This is our second year working with our importing partners, Red Fox Coffee Merchants, to highlight the work of individual women who bring their coffees to cooperatives in Peru. Last year’s offering came from three women in the north, near Cajamarca, producing a bright, tropically fruited offering characteristic of the region. Cusco is much farther south, and the quintessential flavor profile is milder, softer, and “sweeter” in the traditional sense of the word.
Asociación Agraria Valle Del Inca (“Valle Inca” for short) is a producers’ association led by Prudencio Vargas Saenz, the group’s founder and chief operator. Prudencio supervises the purchasing of parchment from farmers, and handles the responsible reinvestment of premiums into community infrastructure projects that aim to sustain and improve quality over time. Prudencio brought an exceptional amount of agricultural and financial experience with him when he founded Valle Inca, and he has rapidly gained the trust and respect of farmers throughout the area. Currently representing over one hundred producers and self-exporting certified organic lots, Valle Inca is a powerful example of a well-run producers’ association.
While organizations like this often facilitate a mixture of large community-lots and single-farm micro-lots, offerings like this one are rare. Without an explicitly defined pre-harvest goal and strong trust among our supply chain partners, coffees like Reyna’s and Justina’s would most likely wind up in larger lots. While certainly the quality is strong, it is not quite the caliber that would warrant lot separation without a pre-committed buyer. Blending the two together boosts the final coffee’s overall quality and complexity, and also allows for a heftier (and thus more efficient) exportable volume, yielding something greater than the sum of its parts.
For us, flavor profile is secondary to these supply chain considerations, but we do regard quality as a prerequisite for viability on our menu. With this one, we gravitated toward its softness, creaminess, mild fruits, and chocolatey foundation. This is a lovely coffee that we know most people will enjoy, but that will especially reward those who spend a little more time with it, exploring different ways to highlight its nuances and subtleties across a variety of brewing methods and styles. In the cup, we taste almond milk, chamomile, and cocoa.