During a recent visit to my old stomping grounds of Rogers Park, Chicago, I decided to pop into an old haunt in Edgewater—Ellipsis Coffeehouse. Ellipsis is owned by a good friend of mine, and they serve up the best cups of Counter Culture Coffee in the city (which is saying a lot, because Counter Culture is served all over the city). I didn’t drink today’s coffee while I was in the shop, but when I saw the Peru Incahuasi on the shelf, I decided to bring it home with me; I love a great Peruvian coffee.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re cupping the Peru Incahuasi, from Counter Culture Coffee in Asheville, North Carolina. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Scattered throughout the Incahuasi Valley in Peru’s southern region of Cusco are more than 10 small, coffee-producing communities whose farmers grow mostly Bourbon, Caturra, and Paché varieties. At altitudes ranging from 1,600–2,400 meters above sea level, these communities are thinly connected by limited road access through the harsh Andean landscape. Nevertheless, the communities remain irrevocably linked by their Inca heritage and focus on quality coffee production
Starting in 2018, a majority of the coffee was dried on African-style raised beds. Many individual farms, in addition to the central community processing stations, transitioned their drying from patios or tarps on the ground, to the improved practice of drying on the raised beds. This took a major investment on behalf of the cooperative and individual producers, in materials and labor, but is something that should result in better quality and access to higher prices.
Founded in early 2005, the Incahuasi Valley Cooperative brings together nearly a dozen communities in an effort to promote specialty coffee production. Through heavy investments in centralized wet mills, drying facilities, organized warehousing, farming education, and marketing, the cooperative has made great improvements to the stability of this region. Initial tasting, inspections, and analysis of coffee occurs at a central warehouse and quality control lab in Andahuaylas, some four hours away from the nearest producers. Quality separation and grading begins in this lab regardless of whether the coffee is a small single-farmer lot or a large community lot.
Although there are some farmers who depulp, ferment, wash, and dry coffee on their own land, most of the group’s coffee cherries are centrally collected and processed to form larger community lots. Notably, some of the communities represented include Apaylla, Amaybamba, Pacaybamba, and Pacaypata.*
region: Cusco, Peru
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Incahuasi Valley Cooperative
elevation: 1600 – 2400 meters above sea level
varietal: Bourbon, Paché, Caturra
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The Peru Incahuasi was a really tough nut for me to crack. It took several brews until I had it dialed in just right. The key to this one was a very slow pour and higher extraction; the flow rate was too fat through my V60 and Chemex so I switched over to my officially branded Counter Culture Coffee Bonmac and had much, much better luck. And, to be honest, I probably should have started there to begin with. Alas.
When I finally got the cup right, its aroma was mellow and sweet with scents of dried fruits, nuts, and vanilla. The coffee itself was medium-bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel and rounded ac
golden raisin, vanilla, and almond.
*content courtesy of Counter Culture Coffee
What were your thoughts of this one? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome! Feel free to enter a comment below.