- Brown Sugar
- 1600-2000 masl
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.
With his history in coffee production dating back to 1973, Mesias Ibarra’s story is somewhat in contrast to the younger, early generation farmers we’ve recently had the opportunity to feature from Cusco in Peru. His ten acre farm, El Triunfo, sits at an impressive 2,110 masl in the district of Santa Teresa, within the province of La Convención in Peru’s broader Cusco region. Throughout the year, Mesias relies on friends and close family to help him maintain and develop best practices and infrastructure on his farm, about half of which is currently dedicated to coffee production. Despite Mesias’ long history producing coffee, it wasn’t until 2018 that he began to work more specifically towards production of higher quality, specialty grade coffee with the aim of fetching higher prices on the market. As a result, his focus has been on more organized farm management, careful cherry selection, better control of fermentation processes, and even submission of his coffees to Cup of Excellence competitions.
This coffee from Mesias’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.
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 Mesias. 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.
A blend of Bourbon, Caturra, and Typica varieties, Mesias’ coffees undergo a ‘limited-oxygen’ fermentation process, where pulped cherries are sealed in barrels for 36 hrs before being washed and dried for milling. In the cup, Mesias’ coffee is impeccably balanced with soft fruit notes of pear, toasted almond, and an inviting brown sugar sweetness throughout.