Coffee in Peru's central jungle was born 137 years ago. A six-hour trip from Lima will take you to the origins of this crop. Travel on the central highway towards the Chanchamayo valley where descendants of Italian settlers arrived more than a century ago. There you will find farms with some of the best coffee beans in the world.
The regional government of Junín has opened a tourist route that showcases the history of coffee in the central jungle. While Satipo and Chanchamayo are the most important places on this trip, Villa Rica and Oxapampa, in Pasco, can also be considered.
The first stop is the Brazil estate, which dates back to the nineteenth century and has buildings that still preserve the construction design that the Italian Giuseppe Signori gave them in 1877. This tradition in architecture is also reflected in the way of growing coffee, gently and without chemical products: the bases of organic coffee.
Continuing the route, you will find the Monterrico estate, built in 1875 by the Tremolada family. Here you can see the red bourbon, blue and round coffee varieties. However, tradition does not have to stay away from technology. The Chanchamayo Highland Coffee processing plant, a company that collects, processes and exports selected coffee is a proof of this. Sales go to Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark and Italy.
According to the National Coffee Board, Peru is the largest exporter of organic coffee in the world. Peru's main customers are Germany, with 41%, Belgium, 17% and the Netherlands, with 7%. While this growth is in the international arena, the Junin region has also increased its production by 27% and is in first place in the country.
Just like Chanchamayo, the Satipo province is considered one of the best for growing coffee. With ecological fields located between 1,300 and 1,900 meters above sea level, the taste of these beans is unbeatable.
The regional government of Junín has been pursuing the implementation of a program for organic production of coffee in this area. The aim is to make the district of San Martin de Pangoa the first organic coffee producer in the country. To achieve this, a collection center in the town of Santa Rosa in Alto Kiatari has been installed.
The growth of organic farming continues to increase since 2007, when sales reached US $91.83 million. However, the lack of technical training of most farmers has not let it generate what it should.
Given this, the National Coffee Board plans to certify 50% of the Junín area's coffee as “special coffee” and encourage farmers to use improved technologies. If you wish to do the coffee trail, tour operators in Junín charge S/.500. The Regional Directorate of Tourism of Junín can also guide you to undertake the trail on your own.
Photos: TR, Flickr
By Raul Mayo Filio (El Comercio, adapted from Spanish by Diana Schwalb)