For this week’s blog, we’re going to be stepping back into our explorations of coffee producing countries. We’re kicking off the South American portion of our journey with the magical mountainous country of Peru!
Coffee was first introduced in Peru in the mid 1700s but was fully consumed domestically until 1887 when the first exports left the country bound for England and Germany. Since then, Peru’s coffee industry has been severely stunted by political and economic instability over the years. At one point, five million acres of land where lost to the British when Peru defaulted on a loan. In the 1970s, Juan Valesco’s government regulations disincentivized the creation of proper infrastructure with guaranteed sales and prices. As a result, the Peruvian coffee industry began to deteriorate once government support was withdrawn. This was followed by Guerilla warfare employed by a socialist party known as The Shining Path which resulted in the destruction of land and farmers being driven away. In the absence of government involvement, however, other organizations have stepped in and aided in the growth of coffee in Peru. Thanks in part to their efforts, the amount of land devoted to coffee has increased by more than 50% since 1980.
Even modern cultivation of the proverbial bean has its challenges. The continued lack of infrastructure makes it difficult to get the crop to coffee mills in a timely manner, often resulting in a subpar product. The varieties grown in Peru are also known to be especially susceptible to coffee leaf rust, a ruthless fungus that destroys coffee trees and has now been spread to every coffee producing country.
Peruvian coffees typically have a clean and sometimes sweet flavor with a heavy mouth feel. Although often not very complex in terms of flavor, more variety continues to emerge as Peru perseveres through the challenges facing its coffee producers.