From Beans to Delicious…Coffee and Cacao in Peru

From Beans to Delicious…Coffee and Cacao in Peru

Cathy Fulton

If you would like to take part in an off-the-beaten path cultural tour consider visiting some organic coffee and cacao farms.

From bean to brew'¦on a coffee farm tour, you get to experience it all.

On one such tour, you spend the night at an organic coffee farm and enjoy the
hospitality and local meals prepared from fresh ingredients by the farmer and served by the family. The farmer will take you a tour explaining all the fruits that grow there and how this shade-grown coffee is taken care of.

coffeefarmer
The pride these growers take in their organic techniques is apparent from the moment they welcome you to their farm.(Photo: Cathy Fulton)

Everything is interplanted here. You don't just see rows of coffee or cacao plants. It is a food forest where bananas, passion fruit, mandarins, achiote, limes, avocados and more, grow alongside the coffee plants. It is challenging to be an organic coffee or cacao farmer in Peru. Two to three times a year, the farm is inspected to be sure it is following all organic standards. If they fail the program, they are removed from it for 10 years. 40% of Peru's organic coffee goes to the US and most of the rest is exported to Europe.

You will have the opportunity to harvest some coffee and assist in its step-by- step preparation. When it is time for an afternoon break, it is certainly a treat to be served the coffee you helped to prepare.

freshcoffee
You can't get coffee fresher than this!(Photo: Cathy Fulton)

The next day, after a breakfast accompanying more of that yummy coffee, a short walk takes you to a neighboring cacao farm. Again, your host and guide will demonstrate the fascinating, but difficult, methods for growing organic cacao. Peru grows less than 2% of the cacao in the world but is second in the production of organic cacao. 

cacao pods
Interestingly, Cacao pods grow on the trunks of the trees.(Photo: Cathy Fulton)

Then, enjoy the aroma as you roast and grind cacao beans and make your own hot
chocolate and 100% cacao paste.

roasting
Cacao beans roasting over an open fire.(Photo: Cathy Fulton)

When I visited, we were provided with bananas, bread, and avocados to spread the rich paste on. Surprisingly, my favorite accompaniment turned out to be avocado! It was an exploration of flavors'”like a good wine!

cacao snack
The hot chocolate is prepared in the traditional way with water, not milk(Photo: Cathy Fulton)

Before you leave the farms, be sure to purchase some coffee and cacao bars to take home as a reminder of how special this visit was.

TIPS:

Various tours to cacao and coffee farms can be found by doing an internet search, or check with a local tour agency. The Forestero Tour that the author went on is arranged by the ChocoMuseo, which does not make money from the tours They have created the tour mainly to benefit the farmers and to educate the public about these fascinating crops. More information on that tour here farm-tour/.

-When you sign up for the tour, if you need interpretation, be sure to let the agency know.

-You will be in a jungle'”be sure to take mosquito repellent!

Cathy Fulton is a somewhat nomadic US citizen who has spent two (southern-hemisphere) summers in Peru. She enjoys staying in one place for one to two months savoring the local way of life, getting to know locals, hiking, and exploring the food and fiber. You can read more about her Peruvian slow travel experiences here on her website.

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