May 7, 2015 by beanerbar
This year, torrential rains and poor weather in Bolivia led to slightly later harvests and very low yields. Despite this challenge, we went into Bolivia’s harvest looking to expand our purchasing scope and focus. In particular, we focused on the AIPEAD cooperative in the town of Amor de Dios whose coffee shines, even with this season’s struggles. Notes of green grape, almond, and bittersweet chocolate.
The AIPEAD cooperative is located in town of Amor de Dios in the Yungas jungle in Bolivia—just outside the town of Caranavi. We first took notice of the cooperative last year, when we bought a small amount from an importer and used it in Big Trouble.
We liked the coffee so much that we ended up visiting the cooperative last August. During our visit, we learned that AIPEAD broke off from another cooperative in the town of Amor de Dios a few years ago, and they have been doing great work with their coffee.
While this is just the start of working with AIPEAD—and Bolivia can be a quite challenging place to source coffees—we love the flavor profile of this and look forward to working more with this group in the future.
Bolivia is easily one of the countries in the world with the most potential for very high-quality production in their growth. This is because of the staggering altitude here. Where many coffee producing countries are worried about global warming and their countries future for producing coffee, Bolivia is one of only a few countries that we have to descend from the capital—where we fly into—to get to where coffee can grow. (The capital, La Paz, is the highest-elevation capital in the world at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level.)
With such potential in quality, it is strange that Bolivia isn’t among the top-30 countries for volume of coffee—and many specialty-coffee roasters do not regularly carry coffee from Bolivia. That said, there have certainly been movements in the country to try to take advantage of the geography for growing coffee.
In ’60s and ’70s, land reform was a large part of Bolivia’s national agenda. Agrarian families were given land and encouraged to move back to rural areas to cultivate citrus and coffee. This is how many of the producers we work with initially started growing coffee.
In the last few decades, however, the Bolivian government has leaned away from US interests in drug eradication, and endeavors in agriculture have been much more focused on coca producers. Bolivia, much to the chagrin to the US government, legally produces coca—in a lot of the same areas as coffee production. Along with challenges in infrastructure to export coffee, this creates a very complex situation for sourcing coffee. That said, it is hard to not pay attention to a country with this much potential for producing great coffees in the future.
Each of the 46 growers of the co-op have around one-to-eight hectares of land.