Exploring A Coffee Farm In The High Jungles Of Peru

By: Tom Malone - Summer 2017

Cusco, Peru - On the third day of our trek along Peru’s Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu, we stopped for lunch in the town of Playa Sahuayacco, named for the leftover, sandy destruction that occurred after record-setting rains flooded the town.

The town is located at 6,771 feet above sea level on the eastern side of the South American Continental Divide, which provides a consistently saturated, highly vegetated jungle.

Naturally, the plant life that thrives in this type of atmosphere leans toward the tropical side. We passed wild avocado, banana, passion fruit, and coffee plants. The people who live in this isolated region of the Andes have capitalized on the ripe environment (pun intended) for growing coffee.

Our lunch break brought us into a small hacienda in which the owners grew and harvested Arabica coffee beans. They treated us to a tour of their homestead’s operation.

We picked our own coffee beans, which begin as a small red seed on a wiry bush.

Then, we peeled the red shell form the beans and dropped them into a massive hand-cranked coffee bean peeling press in order to remove the next layer of skin.

Once our beans were peeled, we dropped them into an iron pot and roasted them over an open flame. This produced a more familiar version of whole-bean coffee: the brown bean that the First World craves.

When the coffee beans were properly roasted, we ground them in an iron hand-cranked coffee grinder. From that, we produced some dense espresso.

In all, the experience of farm-to-table coffee creation in the jungles of the Andes Mountains provided us with an opportunity to see where some of our consumables come from and, more importantly, it brought us together with the people who produce it from its origin.