ICON 31 – Black Honey Gesha
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Peru has some ideal conditions for quality coffee; high elevations, excellent varieties, and widespread use of organic agricultural practices. This tiny micro-lot lot from Felix and his family is indicative of what can be achieved here. The honey process has developed a really sweet cup in which we taste peach, citrus and milk chocolate with delicate floral aromas like rose and honeysuckle.
PRODUCER: Felix Marín
PREPARATION Black Honey
LOCATION: Alto Yurinaqui, Perene, Chanchamayo, Peru
ALTITUDE: 1,800 masl
BAG SIZE: 150g
Felix Marín’s family has been in the coffee business since the 1960s. The family migrated from the Andean region of Cajamarca to the high jungle of Santa Herminia Palomar, a story similar to many others who migrated to the jungle to cultivate coffee.
They are the founders of Coopchebi, an agricultural cooperative located in the Inka forests (Chanchamayo) and Felix became the first exporter of organic and fair-trade coffee in Peru after managing to change the law for deliberate export.
Along with his wife, two daughters and a son, they grow only Gesha across 11 hectares in Alto Yurinaqui, Perene, Chanchamayo, on the “Gesha Mountain”. The family selects only dwarf varieties tolerant to leaf rust from the 12 different genotypes they have on the farm, but are currently investigating new varieties, including Decafe Geisha that is tolerant to La Roya (leaf rust). The farm has an average productivity of 552 kilos per hectare, which is low but results in high-quality coffee. This averages around 88 exportable 69kg bags per year. The coffee is grown using only island guano (bird poo), dolomites and decomposed coffee pulp as fertilisers. Felix is an agronomist and has worked on improving productive technologies and coffee processes.
The coffee is harvested only when the cherry is mature and then pulped before being fermented for three days in a temperature-controlled metal tank. It is then subjected to a second fermentation on beds, covered with a dark mesh sheet for three days in a dark room. The drying begins on raised beds for 15 days in a dark atmosphere, and then under a solar roof for another 10 days until it reaches its target moisture content. This whole process can take up to 40 days, depending on the climate. Afterwards, it is stored in GrainPro bags until ready to be milled and shipped.
The family only delivers this coffee to Coopchebi where the Black Honey process is carried out. Coopchebi currently has 149 members who meet by delegates twice a year, and the cooperative has principles of conserving forests and the environment. As president of the National CAFE platform, Felix Marín has helped coffee growers and partners to access credit at an annual rate of 3.5%, as opposed to the 40% rate given by private banking.
The cooperative also provides support for the development of communities in health, education, and emergency support. Coopchebi is a cooperative that helps farmers improve their quality by touring the process chain that each type of coffee receives. Their principles of solidarity, support, and cooperative conservation of forests and the environment have had a great impact nationally, with other cooperatives copying their system.