Finca Churupampa was the declared destination when I boarded the plane in Frankfurt in September. Because here, in Chirinos, in the north of Peru, lives the Toccto family. They have been growing organic and FairTrade certified specialty coffee in a cooperative since 2011. It took me a good 20 hours to get there: I took the plane to Frankfurt, Bogotà, Lima and Jaén. In Jaén, Lenin Toccto, Eduardo and Sandra picked me up. Together we drove for about two hours until we finally arrived at the farm.
Jaén has only one and (it seemed to me) extremely short landingstrip, but that wasn't the only tremor. The Tocctos' farm is located in mountains whose dirt access road runs right along steep slopes and turns into a mud slide when it rains. But Eduardo happily assured me that the rollover bar of the jeep has never had to go into action so far, while we were sliding and spinning our way through the mud.
The free cow bulls, sometimes gripped by an inexplicable aversion to the jeep, also presented a challenge for us from time to time.
Most important topic: organic farming
The plantations of Finca Churupampa are mostly planted with Catimor, Bourbon, Typica, Caturra and Pache coffee. Bourbon, Typica Caturra and Pache belong to the "variedades antiguas" in Peru, i.e., the original varieties. The plants are replanted piece by piece because they are perfectly adapting the conditions of the region and produce exceptionally aromatic coffee beans. In order to avoid a one-sided strain, different plants and trees are cultivated on most of the farm lots.
This means more manual labor, but conserves the soil. Fertilizer is also produced locally. For this purpose, mainly green cuttings and the husks of the coffee fruits (= cascara) are composted and used in the plantation. Through this well thought-out & sustainable system, the farm of the Toccto family has been FairTrade and organic certified for years. They are constantly actively passing this knowledge on to the farmers in the area.
Professional cuppings of each batch
In Chirinos, the office bulding has a special room where Arabica coffees from coffee farmers of the collectives are tasted (cupped) all day long. Several of the finca's employees are trained as SCA-certified tasters, and from time to time they are joined by the so-called Q-graders, independent professional tasters who determine the SCA rating for the various coffee beans. Samples from all over the region are tasted. I was impressed by the incredibly complex profile and strong character of their local specialty coffee. Chocolaty with citrus influences, hints of sweet orange, and a incredible diversity ... by the end of the day, Lenin almost had to drag me out of the Cupping Room ... because who would leave this paradise?
Guinea pig for breakfast
Other countries, other customs. I had to swallow a little bit when I was served guinea pig (already for breakfast!). But there were also other things: Especially the farm of Don Levi Silva and his daughter Leidy, which covers more than 10 hectares, impressed me: Besides the self-bred guinea pigs (Cuys), there was a pond with their own fish (Telapias), and the fruits (e.g. pineapples) came from the agroforestry part on the coffee plantations. An impressive self-sufficiency!
In the evening the whole family meets for dinner and finishes the day together. Another thing is (almost) never missing: Cañazo, the sugar cane liquor. On the finca of the Silva family, which belongs to the Churupampa farming community of the Tocctos, it was served in bull horns. I almost felt like a Viking. A Viking in Peru.
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