Cusco joins the Foundational Menu

By Evan Howe

Dec 28, 2021

Spanning more than 11,000 square miles, La Convención is the largest of 13 provinces that subdivide the Cusco region in the southern highlands of Peru. The vast majority of coffee producers in this mountainous region are “smallholder” farmers in the truest sense, with an average farm size of 2 hectares (a little less than 5 acres). Thanks to local governmental support that facilitated access to fertilizers, tools, and improved wet mill infrastructure, many farmers in the region were able to improve their production yields and overall quality in recent years. However, for a significant percentage of this community, the challenge of gaining access to specialty buyers willing to pay higher prices for their coffee on a consistent basis has prevented many from securing a stable and meaningfully improved income.

While coffees from Cusco have been a fixture of Passenger’s menu for a number of years, this 2021 harvest ushers in a brand new chapter of our association with this producing region. At the time of writing, we are proud to share that Cusco is the newest addition to a small group of sourcing relationships that we refer to collectively as the Foundational Partnerships. By choosing to add Cusco to Passenger’s current roster of Foundational Partnerships (along with Agaro, Daterra, Divino Niño, Heza, and Montecarlos), our team:

  • Signals an intention to devote a more significant percentage of our buying to coffees produced by this community.
  • Shares a desire to be an engaged buyer of these coffees on an annual and ongoing basis.
  • Commits to the target of broadening investment in this partnership over time, by finding homes on our menus for a more comprehensive representation of the different coffees produced on these farms, across all available quality grades.
  • Underlines the value that we see in these coffees and the potential that we see in this producing region - not only as the latest addition to the Foundational menu, but also as the source of unique Reserve and Education Lots down the road.

This particular community blend from the 2021 harvest in La Convención is composed of 75 tiny lots purchased from 36 farmers who live in multiple sub-districts of the province including: Echarate, Quelloúno, Santa Teresa, and Machu Picchu. For the past two years, Passenger’s primary sourcing partner in Peru has been Caravela Coffee. Caravela is a privately-run specialty export company, and fellow Bcorp, with twenty years of experience building highly transparent, quality-focused supply chains in Latin America. In 2018, Caravela began holding farmer education workshops in the town of Quillabamba, the capital of La Convención province, as a part of its ongoing PECA program. “PECA” stands for “Grower Education Program” in Spanish, and Caravela’s stated mission for the PECA program is “to engage the next generation of coffee farmers in an analytical and science-based approach to maintaining profitable farm operations, with a focus on quality and sustainability".