Nestled in the heart of South America is the Junín region of Peru, a hidden gem for specialty coffee enthusiasts. Pronounced "hoo-neen," this region is located in the central highlands of the country, with its coffee farms situated at altitudes ranging from 1,200 to 2,200 meters above sea level. Junín's unique combination of rich volcanic soil, high altitude, and favorable climate contribute to the production of some of the finest, most complex, and distinctive coffees in the world.
Coffee cultivation in the Junín region dates back to the late 19th century, when German immigrants brought the first coffee plants to the region. Over the years, coffee production has become an essential part of the local economy and culture, with thousands of smallholder farmers relying on coffee as their primary source of income. The region has also played a significant role in the development of Peruvian coffee, as it was here that the first cooperative of coffee producers was established in the 1960s, paving the way for other cooperatives and associations to form throughout the country.
In the Junín region, coffee farming is predominantly carried out by smallholder farmers who grow their crops on plots of land ranging from one to three hectares in size. The majority of these farms are family-run operations, with coffee cultivation practices passed down through generations. Most of the coffee in the region is shade-grown, with farmers cultivating their coffee plants under the canopy of native trees. This method not only promotes biodiversity but also helps to protect the coffee plants from direct sunlight, which can cause the cherries to ripen too quickly and affect the quality of the beans.
While specific processing methods may vary among individual farmers and cooperatives, the most common method of processing coffee in Peru, and likely in the Junín region, is the washed process. In this method, the coffee cherries are first depulped to remove the outer skin and pulp, then fermented in water for a period of time to break down the remaining mucilage. After fermentation, the beans are thoroughly washed and spread out to dry, either on raised beds or patios, until they reach the desired moisture content.
Coffees from the Junín region are renowned for their bright acidity, medium body, and complex flavor profiles. Typical tasting notes include red fruit, floral, citrus, and chocolate, with hints of nuts and caramel. The high altitude and unique terroir of the region lend themselves to the development of these complex flavors, which are further enhanced by the meticulous processing methods employed by the local farmers.
One notable farm in the Junín region is Tasta Coffee, a family-run operation that has been producing exceptional specialty coffees for over 20 years. The farm is dedicated to sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices, with a focus on preserving the natural habitat and promoting biodiversity. Tasta Coffee has gained recognition on the international stage, with their coffees consistently receiving high scores in cupping competitions and being sought after by specialty coffee roasters around the world.
In the world of specialty coffee, the Junín region of Peru is a prime example of the extraordinary potential that can be found in lesser-known coffee-growing regions. With a rich history, dedicated farmers, and unique terroir, Junín continues to produce exceptional coffees that are sure to delight and surprise even the most discerning coffee connoisseurs.