Peru: coffee from the heart of the Inca empire

June 01, 2022

Peru was one of the cradles of civilization. Located in South America, this country is home to many ancient civilizations as far back as 4000 BC. In fact, it is here where the famous Inca empire was born, one of the greatest empires in history. 

This, by the way, is very relevant today. The Inca people were very adept at agriculture with knowledge that developed independently from Europe, and it is said that some of this knowledge is still passed down to the indigenous Peruvian peoples— the Quechua.

The Quechua people make up about a quarter of the country’s population with around five million people. They have their own culture as well as their own language and coexist peacefully with the rest of the country.

The Quechua aren’t the only Incas, but they are the largest remaining ethnic group of the empire. They have long subsisted on agriculture, which is why they are experts at growing all sorts of things. Their basic crops are quinoa —a protein-rich, rice-like grain— and the potato. And boy, do they love potatoes! It is estimated that the Quechua grow up to thousands of different sorts of potatoes, some of which are even used for medicine.

Those two were their main crops — at least until coffee came around.

History of coffee in Peru

Coffee was introduced to Peru by the Spanish, like it happened with the rest of the continent. It was considered a cash crop, and it sold relatively well, so many Quechua farmers had taken up coffee along with their usual crops. Business in the coffee industry was going well up until the 80s, when a political ordeal affected the coffee business. 

It was the 80s and the country’s communist party, The Shining Path, declared open war with the current government. They formed a guerilla-style group and took up to the Andes mountains, which is where many of the Quechua had lived for generations.

These guerilla groups forcefully took these lands in order to establish their own headquarters, which left many Quechua people without a home and without a way to grow food and/or earn money. The coffee industry was almost completely shut down.

This would all end in 1992, when the leader of The Shining Path was captured. This was actually a very bad time for coffee internationally because of a supply/demand disparity that would plummet coffee prices, meaning that it was a very bad time to start growing coffee.

Nevertheless, the Quechua people started growing coffee like they’d been before and in just a few decades, Peru has become one of the best places to get your coffee from.

A lot of Peruvian coffee is FairTrade certified. This is because the organization made Peru a priority becauseof the Quechua people. They were left particularly vulnerable to exploitation and scams because of their disconnect from the rest of the population, seeing how some of them didn’t know Spanish and weren’t sure how much they should be charging in the first place. This resulted in many buyers getting grade-A coffee at ridiculously low prices.

The FairTrade organization stepped in, ensuring a fair pay for the farmer’s coffee. This movement started back in the 80s. Nowadays, most Peruvian coffee is FairTrade certified and a lot of the money goes towards the Quechua community to improve their quality of life.

Peruvian coffee

Most of Peruvian coffee is grown in small, independent farms. Even though most of their coffee is technically organic, the process to get a certification is quite difficult for some of these farmers, which explains why a lot of Peruvian coffee doesn’t have the certification. But rest assured. Chances are it’s organic.

In terms of flavor, Peruvian coffee is quite unique. It is very aromatic, with a very rich dark chocolate aroma that stimulates the nose and gets you going. In terms of flavor, one of the most characteristic things about this coffee is that it has dark fruit tasting notes. This can range from prunes to raisins and even to blueberries.

It is very mild in acidity, has a syrupy body, and never bitter.

Our Peruvian coffee comes from the Piura region, one of the most famous one for their coffee as well as the Amazonas region, which is well known for its rainforests and mountain ranges which are ideal for growing top-notch coffee.

Dung coffee

A Peruvian specialty is dung coffee. You might have heard of Kopi Luwak; an Asian coffee that is made by getting a civet to eat coffee cherries. Then they poop fermented coffee beans, which is then used to make one of the world’s most expensive coffees.

Well, Peru has their own version of this— only that they are helped by the coati, a local animal that resembles the civet. It eats the coffee cherries and out comes dung coffee. This coffee is a delicacy and has a very unique taste.


As you can see, Peruvian coffee is very varied and diverse. Just like Peru itself! A cup of Peruvian coffee, no matter what type —yes, even the Dung coffee!— is grown by some of the most expert hands on the planet.

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