Friday in Peru

Friday was the first full day of let’s talk coffee 2010 here in tarapoto. There were trainings, cupping, demos, lectures, and one-on-one meetings between producers and their buyers.

I spent most of my time with the pool of international and Peruvian baristas, as they led numerous demonstrations of various methods of coffee preparation. There are about 300 people here, and many of them are coffee growers, and as is always the case, many of those growers have never seen an espresso machine or tasted expertly crafted coffee. It’s a very cool experience to see them trying these coffees for the first time.

But the farmers aren’t the only ones learning new things here. As is also often the case with coffee, there’s always more to learn. For me the latest example of that was a cupping of Peruvian coffees. Specifically, is was the realization that many of the descriptors we use to describe the taste notes in the coffee don’t mean much to the farmers. Why? Because they’ve never tasted a blueberry. I was gobsmacked. It’s pretty obvious I suppose, in retrospect, but I hadn’t really considered it. Many of the fruits that we use to describe coffee flavors are unknown at origin. So here they tried something to help build a new vocabulary. We went into the cupping room and on the table were some 20 odd fruits (and they were very odd to me). They all grow locally and have a wide variety of flavors and tastes ranging from a slightly different than normal mango to a fruit that tastes like a donut or one that reeks of blue cheese. These were fruits, however, that the farmers would be more familiar with than a raspberry or something else that I might consider quite common, and if palates can be expanded like this, it can provide a better dialog between producers and consumers. Very cool.

Last night too was an annual tradition at ltc, sevan’s grill. Um… Wow what a night! I’m not sure when I’ll post pictures, as soon as I can figure out appropriate bribes (for posting and/or withholding) I guess.

There are other non-incriminating photos up at our flickr site though that you can see right now: www.flickr.com/photos/baristamagazine

About the Author

Ken

Kenneth R. Olson is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Huskies. Go Blazers! Go Dawgs!