Efrain Carhuallocllo (kar-hwa-YOK-yo) is a Peruvian producer we have been sourcing from for two years now. He is an associate of the CENFROCAFE cooperative, which is the group that produces our Apu del Norte. The cooperative is based in two northern Peruvian cities: Jaén and San Ignacio. These cities are both located in the Cajamarca department in the eastern foothills of the Andes. Jaén is the southern of the two, a gateway town to the northern highlands that separate Ecuador from Peru. San Ignacio is located much further north, quite close to the Ecuadorian border. Between these two cities is a long and wide valley, approximately 100 km in length, where rice is the main agricultural product. In the mountains to the west of this valley are located many small villages of coffee producers, many of them members of CENFROCAFE.
One of the most famous municipalities in the mountains to the west of the Jaén-San Ignacio valley is called Chirinos. It is quite distant from Jaén, where we typically travel in late summer to source our higher quality Peruvian coffees for the year. The drive to Chirinos is approximately 4 hours, partly along a highway that runs the length of the rice-producing valley, but mostly along winding dirt roads that access the inner communities of the mountains.
Efrain’s farm is in Chirinos, specifically in a village called El Corazon. He grows caturra (a variety of arabica) on a small parcel of steep land and processes the coffee himself on the farm each year, typically beginning in July and finishing in September. The coffee producers along this stretch of Peru’s northern highlands face year-round rain which greatly complicates the drying process, essential to the prevention of mold and preservation of quality. Quite often producers will build second stories to their wood framed houses and use the upper level for drying coffee (and laundry). The upper levels are built to encourage airflow through the space, lending to slow, even drying and adequate protection from moisture. Once dried, Efrain delivers the coffee to CENFROCAFE in Jaén for final processing and export.
We’re very excited about Efrain’s coffee because it is the best Peruvian Fairtrade/Organic coffee we have encountered and has now held that title for two seasons in a row. We’re always on the lookout for producers who can consistently produce excellent coffee year after year, such that we can grow with them and support them as beacons of economic opportunity for their communities. Efrain’s coffee is exemplary of the region, with complex floral, sugar, toffee and orange flavours and a vibrant, juicy acidity. We first discovered it when we visited CENFROCAFE in Jaén in August 2014, and we were delighted to find it tasting just as good when we returned in September 2015 visit.
Unfortunately Efrain’s coffee is of extremely limited availability – we were only able to get two 69kg bags of his coffee this year! To make the most of it, we’re roasting it once per week on Wednesdays for 5 weeks in a row and are sending it out to most of our coffeehouses on Friday mornings. There will only be 68 bags per available per week. This is undoubtedly one of our best coffees of the year and certainly the most rare!