Peru lies along the western coastline of South America. The country is south of Ecuador and Colombia, west of Brazil, and northwest of Bolivia and Chile. Peru’s climate is hugely diverse, with a tropical area in the eastern lowland jungle, a dry desert area in the west along the coast, and a temperate to cold climate up high in the Andes Mountains.
Coffee growing areas
In Peru, coffee grows on the eastern slopes of the Andes mountain range. On these eastern slopes, coffee production takes place in three principal growing areas. Production has gradually moved from the central highlands of the Chanchamayo area (28% of total production) to the northern highlands in the Amazonas and San Martin regions (49% of total production). The southern highlands account for 23% of coffee production.
Peru grows almost exclusively Arabica coffee. Typica accounts for 70% and Caturra about 20%, while 10% of Peru’s coffee plants are other varieties. The harvesting season begins in April and reaches its peak in June-September.
The large majority of Peruvian coffee production takes place in the highlands between 1000 and 1800 meters above sea level. Coffee typically grows under shade with an average plant density of 2000 plants per hectare. Balancing on the steep hills with the picking basket, the pickers handpick the cherries selectively. They bring the cherries down to the processing center for pulping and sun-drying, following traditional methods.
As the world’s leader in organic coffee export, Peru is probably best known for its certified coffee production. Recently, the country is also appearing on the radar of the specialty coffee industry.
Most Peruvian coffee producers are smallholder farmers, who own an average of three hectares. These producers are grouped in associations or cooperatives that allow them to negotiate better prices, improve post-harvest handling of production, and develop marketing strategies. The larger associations have up to 2000 members and own over 7000 hectares. The most sophisticated associations can even have a financial branch that provides loans to producers to purchase inputs, partially pay for the costs of production to increase yields and improve crop quality. Some of these associations also provide technical assistance to farmers. These service cooperatives market their product directly or have a long-term relationship with a coffee trader who does this for them.