Nestled high in the Andes Mountains lies the Cajamarca region, home to one of Peru's most exquisite specialty coffees. Pronounced "ka-ha-marka," this coffee-growing region is located in the northern part of Peru, near the border with Ecuador. The region boasts a diverse landscape with altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters above sea level, providing ideal conditions for coffee cultivation. An interesting fact about Cajamarca is that it is renowned for its ancient archaeological sites, including the pre-Incan ruins of Kuelap and the Ventanillas de Otuzco.
Coffee cultivation in Cajamarca dates back to the late 19th century when European settlers introduced the crop to the region. Since then, coffee has become an essential part of the local economy and culture. Over the years, the region has faced various challenges, such as the coffee leaf rust disease that swept through South America in the early 20th century. However, the resilience and determination of the local farmers helped them overcome these obstacles and continue to produce high-quality coffee.
In Cajamarca, coffee is typically grown by smallholder farmers who own plots of land ranging from one to ten hectares. These farmers cultivate their coffee crops using traditional and sustainable farming methods, often intercropping with other plants such as bananas, avocados, and corn. This practice helps maintain soil fertility and contributes to the unique flavor profile of the coffee beans.
The processing methods employed in the Cajamarca region can vary from farm to farm. The majority of the coffee is processed using the washed method, which involves removing the fruit's pulp, fermenting the beans in water, and then thoroughly washing them before drying. This method results in a clean and bright cup with well-defined flavors.
However, there are also farmers who experiment with other processing methods, such as honey and natural processing, to create distinctive and complex flavor profiles.
Peru Cajamarca coffee is known for its exceptional cup quality and distinctive flavor profile. The beans from this region typically exhibit bright acidity, medium to full body, and a range of fruit and floral notes. Common tasting notes include red apple, stone fruit, and citrus, accompanied by hints of florals like jasmine and rose. The finish is often characterized by a pleasant caramel or chocolate sweetness.
Some of the well-known farms in the Cajamarca region include Tabaconas Namballe, La Palma, and El Diamante. These farms are renowned for their commitment to sustainable practices and the production of high-quality, unique coffees. The farmers in this region are increasingly participating in international competitions, such as the Cup of Excellence, showcasing the exceptional quality of their beans and placing Cajamarca on the specialty coffee map.
Overall, the Cajamarca region offers coffee lovers a unique and delightful experience. The combination of high altitudes, diverse landscapes, and traditional farming methods contribute to the distinct flavor characteristics of Peru Cajamarca coffee. As the specialty coffee industry continues to grow, it's exciting to see regions like Cajamarca gaining recognition and appreciation for their exceptional beans and dedication to quality and sustainability.