- 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.
Richard Chuarata’s farm is located in the rural Yanatile district of Calca province, in the Cusco region of southern Peru. Growing up with coffee producing parents, Richard credits most of what he knows to his early introduction to the trade. Today his coffee farm is truly a family affair. With his son assisting with tree care, coffee fermentation, and processing, and his wife, Guillermina, largely in charge of selling the coffee and feeding the workers, Richard is keen to point out the important role each member of his family plays in the overall function of the farm. After a number of years slowly investing in improvements, particularly when it comes to drying infrastructure, Richard and his family have seen quality improve on their farm, and hope to continue that trend while also increasing volumes in the years ahead.
This coffee from Richard’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 the Cusco region. While our team has bought and presented coffees from Cusco 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 Richard. This is the same purchasing model that informs the development of all of Passenger’s Foundational Partnerships (learn more about our sourcing philosophy here (https://www.passengercoffee.com/blogs/news/introducing-the-passenger-coffee-transparency-report)), and, given the nascent stage of these relationships in Cusco, we are especially excited to see these single producer lots added to the menu.
Of the 9 hectares that make up Richard Chuarata’s farm, about a third of it is currently dedicated to coffee production, generally of bourbon and typica varieties. At around 1700 masl, Richard’s farm is slightly lower in elevation than some of the other producers we’ve recently featured from this region, but his coffee is no less delicious: a truly crowd pleasing cup, we find plenty of rich milk chocolate and nut brittle sweetness throughout, complemented by pleasant notes of cherry and stone fruit.