Rutas del Inca Cooperative

One of the four FTO certified cooperatives from the Cajamarca department that produced our current selection of microlots. Rutas del Inca is a fairly new cooperative, located deep in the Cajamarca department of northern Peru. Historically, Cajamarca has been an important mining region because of its mineral resources. Only recently the region gained popularity as one of Peru’s high-potential coffee growing regions. The history of the Rutas del Inca cooperative has close ties to this mining history. Many large mining companies try to compensate for past mistakes by supporting the socioeconomic development of local communities. For its high potential in the region, the conversion to coffee cultivation received a lot of support from these companies. With the funding, new cooperatives were created, among which Rutas del Inca, and farmers changed their traditional crops (potatoes, livestock,…) to the cash crop.

Since these new cooperatives received substantial financial resources, they were able to invest in planting high-quality varieties like Caturra, Typica and Pache. To make all that potential real, they also invested in proper infrastructure at each plantation. This allows every single producer to properly process his own coffee cherries. The cooperative provides technical support to its members through quality training and field support from agronomists.

In the selections, we cupped many lots of Rutas del Inca. Time after time, they came out as favorites for their rich and balanced cup profile, with subtle acidity and fruit notes. A really impressive operation from high in the Peruvian Andes. The average growing altitude lies around 2000 meters above sea level!

Processing

Producer members of Rutas del Inca all built their own processing unit on their farm with the support of their cooperative. Each producer has a fermentation tank, washing tank, depulping machine and drying structure. Coffee harvest on the small farms is manual, which allows the pickers to be precise in which cherries they pick. After picking, the coffee passes through the depulping machine to tear off the cherry skin and flesh. The sticky parchment sits in a tank until the mucilage is broken down. After fermentation, the coffee is washed in the small tanks on each producer’s own farm. The parchment dries for 10 to 12 days in full sun until it reaches 12% moisture content. Finally, Rutas del Inca takes further care of processing and selling its members’ coffee.