After our visit to Unambari which Viren wrote about previously, Lloyd, Viren and I, along with our guide Alfredo and driver Elvis, climbed the Andes highway again from Sandia to the Altiplano, an elevation of approximately 12,300 feet, then back down again to Juliaca. The trip took over three hours. This time, travelling in daylight, we could see the fear rather than just feel it. I’m not sure which was worse.
In Juliaca, we headed directly to the processing office of Cecovasa, one of the cooperatives in Peru that Ethical Bean buys green coffee from.
We arrived late into lunchtime, but Cecovasa’s President and General Manager Javier Ronald Cahuapaza Mamani graciously awaited our arrival, led us to the president’s office and commenced a summary of the past and present of Cecovasa.
Cecovasa, the coffee-growing Central Agricultural Cooperative of the Valleys of Sandia, was founded in 1970 by five cooperatives to export directly, obtain better prices, and share costs. It now includes eight cooperatives and 4,581 group cooperative farmers. Cecovasa exports more than 75% of coffee produced in the Inambari Tambopata Valley representing 2% of national total.
After the presentation, we headed to the cupping area for a much awaited taste of Cecovasa coffee, lovingly roasted on-site. They chose their most popular Tunki variety. Grown approximately 5,600 feet above sea level in the Sandia Valley, Tunki is produced without the use of pesticides and chemicals, is certified organic and cultivated following international Fairtrade standards. It has won a host of awards, it’s most prestigious being ‘Best Specialty Coffee in the World’ as selected by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). Tunki beat 139 offerings from 25 countries to claim the title.
If given the chance Aaron DeLazzer, Ethical Bean’s Director of Coffee, might describe Tunki as: “a beautifully balanced Arabica, single origin, premium coffee originating from the Peruvian Andes boasting a high bodied, very full flavored, superb floral aroma with sweet chocolate and treacle notes, enhanced with undertones of citrus and red berries.” Then again, he might not.
After warm goodbyes and mutual thanks, we were on the dry road again back to Juliaca, then onto Puna further south on the shores of Lake Titicaca–where the land is greener, and the guinea pigs are nervous. That’s a whole other story…
For an excellent introduction to Peruvian flute music, for more information about Cecovasa and for many other reasons, please visit their website.