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Marilyn Laucata

with notes of
  • Marzipan
  • Wild Blueberry
  • Honey

Coffees from Peru’s Cusco region have been a fixture of Passenger’s menu for a number of years, but 2021 marked the beginning of Cusco’s tenure on the Foundational menu. 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 government support that facilitated access to fertilizers, tools, and improved wet mill infrastructure, many farmers in Cusco 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.

Passenger’s green buying team continues to work, in collaboration with our sourcing partners at Caravela Coffee, to broaden our annual buying from a small group of producers in the province of La Convención. As these sourcing efforts gain focus over time, we are truly excited for our menus to feature a broader representation of the beautiful coffees of this region.

Marilyn Laucata’s farm is located in La Convención, the largest of thirteen provinces that make up the broader Cusco region, in southern Peru. Her four hectare farm in the district of Santa Ana is named Agua Dulce (or Sweet Water) after the creek that runs through her land. At present, Marilyn has planted bourbon and caturra trees on over 50% of her land, and uses organic methods to cultivate her plants. While she credits her father as the original source of her enthusiasm for coffee production, Marilyn has since taken on the endeavor largely by herself: managing her farm single-handedly for most of the year until the harvest season when her family arrives to assist her. Marilyn’s story is sadly rare in specialty coffee. In addition to being a talented female coffee producer within the often male-focused culture of coffee production, it’s increasingly rare to find younger-generation producers so eager to produce coffee at all, given the difficulty of the work and the risks offered by increasingly volatile global coffee markets. Given all of the above, we are truly inspired by Marilyn’s story, and her beautiful coffee is quite inspiring on the cupping table as well.

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This coffee from Marilyn's 2022 harvest is one of four single producer Reserve Lots that together represent an exciting new chapter in the evolution of Passenger's Foundational sourcing program in La Convención. While our team has bought and presented coffees from the Cusco region for many years, it wasn’t until 2021 that Cusco officially joined the Foundational menu alongside our five other year-round offerings from producers in Ethiopia, El Salvador, Colombia, Burundi, and Brazil. For each of these Foundational Partnerships, the goal is the same: to try to add value for the relevant producers as a reliable, ongoing buyer - intentionally prioritizing the purchase of a broad representation (i.e. not just the 'cream of the crop') of the coffees and quality grades that each partner produces.

Our Approach
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To that end, Passenger’s green buying team is working with our Peru sourcing partners at Caravela Coffee to carefully evaluate each small delivery of coffee that each member of a small group of Cusco farmers produces throughout the harvest. By tasting each lot individually we are able to make collaborative decisions regarding which lots to blend for the Passenger Foundational offering, and which lots to feature as special separations - as we are with the present Reserve Lot from Marilyn. This is the same purchasing model that informs the development of all of Passenger’s Foundational Partnerships, and, given the nascent stage of these relationships in Cusco, we are especially excited to see these single producer lots added to the menu.

As is the case on many small farms in this region, Marilyn’s coffee plants are shaded by the presence of Pacay trees that grow on her farm and are indigenous to the Andean highlands. Post harvest, her coffees are depulped, fermented, and fully washed before being dried on patios to achieve proper moisture content for hulling. The result is a delicately nuanced coffee, with inviting notes of marzipan, fresh wild blueberry in the cup, and a floral, honeyed finish that is as approachable as it is elegant.