Peru San Martin, pronounced as "sahn mar-TEEN," is a coffee growing region nestled in the northeastern part of Peru, South America. The region sits at an altitude of roughly 1,000 to 1,800 meters above sea level, making it an ideal environment for growing specialty coffee. An interesting fact about this region is that it is part of the larger Peruvian Amazon, which is home to a rich biodiversity, thus contributing to the unique characteristics of the coffee grown here.
Coffee has been cultivated in the San Martin region since the early 20th century. The region's coffee production started to boom in the 1950s when the Peruvian government encouraged migration from the Andean highlands to the Amazon lowlands, including San Martin, to boost the economy and promote coffee cultivation. Over the years, the region has faced various challenges, including the presence of drug trafficking and illegal crops. However, the region has since transformed, with coffee growers focusing on sustainable and high-quality coffee production to compete in the international specialty coffee market.
In San Martin, smallholder farmers primarily grow coffee on family-owned farms. These farms typically cultivate Arabica coffee varieties, such as Typica, Caturra, Bourbon, and Catimor, which are known for their high-quality beans. The coffee plants are often grown under the shade of native trees, which promotes biodiversity and helps to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
The majority of coffee in San Martin is processed using the washed method, which is common throughout Peru. In this method, the coffee cherries are depulped to remove the outer skin and some of the fruit, leaving the beans covered in a sticky layer called mucilage. The beans are then fermented in water for a specific period to break down the mucilage, which is essential for developing the coffee's unique flavors. After fermentation, the beans are washed and then sun-dried on patios or raised drying beds, allowing them to reach the desired moisture content before being sorted and bagged for export.
Peru San Martin coffee is known for its bright acidity, medium body, and complex flavor profile. The coffees from this region often exhibit notes of red fruit, like cherry and raspberry, as well as citrus, floral, and chocolate undertones. The unique combination of altitude, climate, and fertile soils in San Martin contribute to the distinct flavors found in the coffee, making it a sought-after origin for specialty coffee enthusiasts.
The San Martin region's commitment to producing high-quality, sustainable coffee has undoubtedly put it on the map as a noteworthy coffee origin. As the region continues to focus on improving its farming and processing practices, it is expected that the reputation and demand for Peru San Martin coffee will only grow in the global specialty coffee market.