Coffee growers in Peru are facing a triple threat.
Coffee prices continue to hover near record lows making it almost impossible to keep their farms, much less continue to produce a crop. It’s only those growers that are able to produce specialty-grade beans — beans grown at high altitudes in far-flung communities, that are harder, denser and more flavorful — that are able to fetch prices above the “C” market price.
These same growers, however, are finding their high-grown beans compromised by intermediary buyers, who blend their product with local, low-grown coffees and sell the blended crop at market prices. “That’s demoralizing,” says grower Friolan Fernandez…
The middlemen are a necessary evil because they come out to remote farms and help us get our beans to market. But they don’t care about quality. That’s demoralizing for those of us who produce good coffee.
And then there’s “La Broca”.
A significant amount of Peruvian coffee is both shade-grown and organic. That’s a boon to the local ecology, and can realize a higher price at market as consumers’ growing demand for such coffees takes hold. Unfortunately, it also makes for conditions that are ideal for the borer beetle – la broca – an invisible army that’s quietly destroying up to a third of Peru’s coffee crop by sapping nutrients from coffee trees, and destroying the coffee beans, themselves.
This isn’t the first appearance of the borer beetle in Peru – it’s been problematic at one time or another in most all Central American coffee growing countries – but the timing couldn’t be worse. Low prices have resulted in fewer people to tend the trees, and as a result, fewer hands to fight the beetle invasion.
What can you do? Try a lovely Peruvian Organic coffee this week… and maybe buy a pound for a friend.