One thing my readers have come to know about me over the past few years is that I am a champion of regions that don’t receive much press or mainstream attention; the underdogs of coffee producing regions. Countries like Tanzania, Sulawesi, Bolivia, and, certainly, Peru. While regions like Kenya, Ethiopia, Colombia, or Guatemala are fairly ubiquitous presences in any given roaster’s product lineup, a country like Peru usually isn’t as readily available. So when I learned that Ruby Coffee Roasters—one of the best roasters in the country—would be carrying their very first offering Peru—an offering that is exclusive to Ruby, no less!—I immediately jumped on their website and ordered it.
The Peru Idelberto represents the entirety of a small microlot grown by Idelberto Apaza Villasante. Located in Puno, Peru at an elevation of 1800 meters above sea level, Villasante grows Caturra, Typica, and Bourbon varieties and processes them in a unique way. According to the roaster, the coffee is technically washed and dried on a patio, but there is a little bit of mucilage left over. This actually isn’t much unlike a processing method practiced in Brazil known as miel (or “pulp natural”). Miel involves the removal of the skin from the coffee (like the first step of the wet process), but instead of fermenting and removing the fruity mucilage, the coffee is dried with the fruit clinging to the parchment layer.
It’s a real shame that coffees like Idelberto’s don’t have more of a presence in today’s specialty market, because Peru (and Puno, in particular) possesses one of the world’s most ideal terroirs. Coffee grows at great altitude in Puno with a lot of the terrain sitting perched over 2,000 meters above sea level and Puno coffee farmers, and Peru in general, utilize great natural shading. Most farmers here process their own fruit manually on hand crank depulping machines, ferment in small tanks, wash in the same tanks, and then take their parchment down the mountain to community drying patios which are owned by the local cooperative.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Peru Idelberto, from Ruby Coffee Roasters in Nelsonville, Wisconsin. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Puno, Peru
farm: Peru Idelberto
producer: Idelberto Apaza Villasante
elevation: 1800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Typica, Bourbon
process: semi-washed, patio dried
The aroma of the Peru Idelberto is subtle, but presents a melange of scents that are fragrant, fruity, and sweet. Nuances of dark chocolate, brown sugar, dark berries, and red grape juice.
As I take my first few sips from the cup, immediately post-brew, I can’t say I’m surprised that the coffee’s not making a huge impression on my taste taste buds. It’s a pretty full-bodied coffee, but like its aroma suggested, it’s also a mellow, subtle coffee; one that’s not blowing my taste buds away with bright, bombastic flavors. The more it cools, though, the coffee just starts oozing with flavor; and it continues to expose layer upon layer as the cup progresses, each sip revealing another nuance or two. It’s as if I’ve cracked through the coffee’s crust, and a river of juicy fruits has begun to seep through.
There is a base flavor of dark chocolate and salted caramel, and a slow, lazy river of fig, raisin, black currant, dates, plum, Gala apple, and red grape unfurls over the top. Additional flavor complexities include nuances of cinnamon and pecan. This is a wonderfully dense, buoyant, and rounded coffee and it features a supple mouthfeel. Additionally, the cup is deep and long; the longer I sit with it, the more it reveals.
Full body; supple mouthfeel; tartaric acidity; clean finish.
As I mentioned in my preamble, I am a champion of Peruvian coffees and Ruby’s Peru Idelberto is evidential of my enthusiasm for the region. Coffees like this one deserve to be recognized and celebrated.
The Peru Idelberto, Ruby Coffee Roasters’s first Peruvian offering, is a coffee that is densely packed with flavor, impeccably balanced, and possesses a supple, buoyant mouthfeel. But what really set this coffee apart from others, for me, was its depth; even as the cup cooled, the coffee just kept going and going, each sip revealing layer upon layer of flavor.
Again, this isn’t a coffee that was bright or bombastic; it’s not one that will blow you away, or dazzle you with effervescence. No, this is a subtle coffee that
requires invites its consumer to spend time with it; it’s a coffee that tells a story from first sip to last drop. And if you cup this one with thoughtful consideration, I can guarantee you that you will be an attentive audience.