This selection from Jhonny Saavedra and his family continues our exploration of Cajamarca and northern Peru. This is a cool blend of two of our favorite varieties grown in Peru, filled with ripe fruit, an excellent sweetness, and a lively but balanced acidity.
Yellow Bourbon & Caturra
San Ignacio, Cajamarca
Hand picked at peak ripeness. Floated to further remove defects. Depulped. Wet fermented for 24 hours. Washed. Dried on parabolic dryers for 20 days.
As this is our first year really starting to explore Peru, we are only beginning to scratch the surface. Most of our work has happened via phone calls with exporters, tasting countless samples, and looking at maps and micro climates. On the cupping tables, Jhonny's coffees have continued to impress. After one such cupping, our exporting partner lovingly told the story of when they met Jhonny when he came to sell them his coffee for the first time. At that meeting, Jhonny’s coffee showed very well, and they wrote him a check on the spot. A few days later he returned and sheepishly asked if they could help him with the check because he didn't know how to read. They helped him cash the check and told him, in no uncertain terms, that if he couldn't read by next year they wouldn't buy his coffee. The following year Jhonny had taught himself to read, and the quality of his coffee had improved as well. From then on, the sky has seemed to be the limit, as his coffees have continued to improve year after year as he pours himself into his farm.
Bourbon is the most famous of the Bourbon-descended varieties. It is a tall variety characterized by relatively low production and excellent cup quality, but is susceptible to all the major coffee plant diseases. In the early 1700’s French missionaries carried Bourbon from Yemen to Bourbon Island (now Réunion), giving it the name it has today. The variety spread to other parts of the world beginning in the mid-1800’s as the missionaries moved to establish footholds in Africa and the Americas. Today, in Latin America, Bourbon has largely been replaced by varieties that descend from it—notably Caturra, Pacas, Catuai, and Mundo Novo—although Bourbon itself it is still cultivated in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru.
Caturra is a natural mutation of the Bourbon variety. It was discovered on a plantation in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil sometime between 1915 and 1918. Today, it is one of the most economically important coffees in Central America, to the extent that it is often used as a benchmark against which new cultivars are tested. In Colombia, Caturra was thought to represent nearly half of the country’s production before a government-sponsored program beginning in 2008 incentivized renovation of over three billion coffee trees with the leaf rust resistant Castillo variety (which has Caturra parentage).
The cost of getting a coffee from cherry to beverage varies enormously depending on its place of origin and the location of its consumption. The inclusion of price transparency is a starting point to inform broader conversation around the true costs of production and the sustainability of specialty coffee as a whole.