February 10, 2015 by beanerbar
Valle del Santuario comes from five small communities that are part of an exclusive Counter Culture project in Northern Peru. Now in our eighth year, these communities have firmly established themselves as one of favorites to work with—making beautiful coffees with balanced notes of chocolate, plum, spice, and vanilla with a smooth, round body.Counter Culture has purchased coffee from the Cajamarca region of northern Peru since 2001, at which time the region had a reputation for producing large volumes of low-quality coffee. In 2006, we tasted coffee from the Cenfrocafe cooperative for the first time and we, along with all of our customers, were immediately hooked by its sweetness, hints of ripe clean fruit, and juicy acidity.
We took a major step with Cenfrocafe in 2007 by focusing our attention on a small network of five communities and tasting coffee from each of the 75 families of these communities individually. In a chaotic meeting of all the members, we voted to name their coffee Valle del Santuario after the national park that abuts these communities’ farms.
This partnership has been our most successful small-scale farmer relationship to date—we’ve sourced incredible, organic coffee directly from small farmers, delivering premiums for quality, and have built rewarding personal relationships at the same time.
Cenfrocafe was founded in 1999 and has grown rapidly ever since, becoming a model for other smaller cooperatives in the surrounding area. Their approximately 2,200 members are part of more than 84 smaller local organizations. In 2007, they became Fair Trade certified, opening themselves up to even wider markets. A unique aspect of Cenfrocafe is their intentional hiring of youth and family members of producers to work within the cooperative.Many of the farms in the mountains of the region have only been settled and planted for a generation, as opposed to the southern regions of Peru where the agricultural history dates back millennia. Cenfrocafe’s members hail from some 30-odd communities around Jaen and smaller towns like San Ignacio, Chirinos, and Tabaconas. In contrast, again, to the southern and central highlands of Peru, most of this region’s people are of mestizo descent and speak Spanish as their first and only language.
San Ignacio, Jaen, Peru
Jaen is a young and fast-growing city that bustles with commercial activity in coffee from the highlands and rice from the lowlands. The five communities that Valle del Santuario comes from include: Alto Ihuamaca, Bajo Ihuamaca, Las Mercedes, Francisco Bolognesi, and Alto Bolognesi.
It is not uncommon for the Coffee Department to use Cenfrocafe as an example of a model relationship and share strategies on how to find partners and create other successes similar to this one. We rely on honest, frequent communication with co-op management like Elmer Peña Silva and Teodomiro Melendres Ojeda, cupping support from Alexander Julca and Rony Perez, as well as on-the-ground support from agronomist Sergio Leodan Fuentes Ramirez. Over the years, we have identified more than 10 producers of exceptional quality coffee that we singled out and sold separately, and we have no doubt that we will continue to find and celebrate coffees from individuals all over the co-op’s territory.In addition to the recognition they have received from us, the co-op has dominated the past few years’ national coffee competitions, placing multiple coffees in the top 10.