ProducerUnion Y Fe / Coouanfe
Coop Manager, Lorenzo Cruz
Cup ProfileLime, cashew, sugar cane
PreparationPulped, then overnight 12-18h dry fermented and washed.
Dried on raised beds under parabolic driers
TerroirSan Ignacio region of Cajamarca
GeneticsCaturra, bourbon & limani
When we first cupped this coffee, a lively citrus acidity from the start lead into soft cashew, followed by a lingering molasses sweetness. Great! Since then, after careful test roasting, multiple rounds of tasting and quality control, we have begun to appreciate how versatile this coffee truly is. For maximum balance and sweetness we brew it by hand as pourover, showcasing the most refined version of this coffee. Our most common approach to extracting this coffee as espresso focusses on bringing the acidity to the forefront, and then rewarding you with a rich body and a natural hit of raw cane sugar which lingers long after the final sip. So far so good, but what about all of the lactose-lovers, milk maniacs and latteartists? You’re in luck, because when we served it through milk for the judges to calibrate their scoring at this year’s UKBC Northern Heat, their tasting notes were almost unanimous: Key lime pie!
Our Unión y Fé lot comes to us through Falcon Speciality. It is made up of three coffee varietals, Typica and Bourbon, prized for the high cup quality they are capable of yielding as well as the lesser known Limani (a cross between Timor Hybrid 832 and Villa Sarchi, originally developed in Puerto Rico). The producers of this coffee are COOAUNFE (Unión Y Fé for short), an agricultural cooperative whose farms are located close to San Ignácio in La Coipa, Peru.
This organic cooperative of around 250 members is certified to both US and EU standards and subscribes to the Fairtrade certification model. Based around the tenets of Perseverance and Collaboration indicated in the name, these farmers pursue quality in every aspect of their practices, from varietal selection, to planting, harvesting and processing. They collate information about the provenance and characteristics of every single lot they produce in order get the best results from each farmer’s land. Each member has between 1 and 5 hectares (called cuadras in Peru), often split into small plots separated by areas of protected forest.
Their land stretches across three valleys, each one with its own unique climatic and environmental variations. Mapping the lots that come from each plot allow the coop’s agronomists to determine how to maximise each farmer’s production through an understanding of what varietals will thrive on a given plot, how to tend to the trees using the best organic methods and how to process the resulting cherries for best results. This means that areas facing the threat of roya (the leaf rust that decimated coffee harvest all over Peru in 2013, reducing production on a national level by a quarter) can be planted with resistant hybrid varieties like Limani, Catimor or Castillo and areas that consistently produce high-scoring coffees can be given over to producing lower-yielding and less resilient varieties, traditional varieties like Typica and Bourbon. This painstaking approach to tailoring agricultural and processing practices is rooted in cupping and evaluating every single lot on its own merits and applying the lessons learned and collaborating in constantly striving to improve quality whilst battling the advance of roya.
The harvest from any given plot is handpicked over a period of several weeks and each plot is revisited for picking every few days. This ensures that each cherry is harvested at peak maturity as each fruit ripens. Each day’s harvest is then pulped and dry fermented overnight for 12-18 hours. This dry fermentation in the cooler night air helps to produce a controlled fermentation, without the danger of high temperatures causing fermented off-flavours in the cup. The next morning, the coffee is washed to remove the mucilage and then dried on raised mesh beds under solar driers. Controlling temperatures and airflow around the drying coffee allows farmers to optimise drying the process, reducing risk of mould, avoiding off-flavours and producing a parchment coffee that will maintain its cup quality for the longest time. This takes between ten and fourteen day. Once the coffee is dry, it is delivered to the coop’s San Ignacio mill where the net yield is calculated and the farmer is then paid the coop’s Fairtrade base rate per kilo. Mill manager Lorenzo Cruz and his team then sample roast, cup and fully assess each new lot and categorise each according to quality. Second payments for coffee above the official Fairtrade price are then awarded for lots that exceed the coop’s basic quality requirements. This means that higher scoring speciality lots earn the producer a premium on top of their first payment. It’s a classic case of quality over quantity.