The Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera José Olaya (José Olaya Rural Coffee Farm Cooperative, or CAFJO) is located in the district of Quelloúno, La Convención, in the south of Peru.
Currently, its members comprise around 271 coffee-growing families that cultivate coffee at altitudes between 800 and 1,200 m.a.s.l. The cooperative produces certified Fair Trade and organic green beans, with some of its coffees scoring up to 83 points.
We’ve worked with this cooperative for a few years now, and are delighted to bring our roaster partners some of their delicious coffees from this amazing region of Peru. Let’s take a look at what makes this coop special, and how our team is working with them to develop the local coffee industry and empower producers.
What is CAFJO?
CAFJO operates an organic certified warehouse, quality control lab, and harvest machinery in Quelloúno. Its qualified personnel oversee the operational and logistical functions of the cooperative, which includes monitoring, maintaining, and improving the quality of coffee production.
The name of the cooperative comes from the eponymous José Olaya, a legendary fisherman who fought for Peru’s independence. According to various accounts from history, Olaya would swim around Lima to the ports in Callao, and transport secret messages in the process.
Since 1966, the José Olaya Cooperative has focused on marketing its coffee as well as improving quality on the production side. Its aim has been to promote Peruvian coffee in the international market, as well as ensuring that farmer members’ crop meets the quality requirements of its customers.
Producing excellent coffees in Peru’s southern highlands
The southern region of Peru has a perfect climate for growing excellent coffee, and is suited to a few specific varieties of coffee plants.
Around 23% of all Peruvian coffee comes from the regions of Puno, Cusco, and Ayacucho in the southern highlands. Coffees from these regions can have cup scores all the way up to the high 80s.
Luke Terrey is a Coffee Sales Liaison here at Condesa. He says that these Peruvian coffees are high-quality and versatile.
“Here, you find producers that benefit from the positive attributes of altitude, plant variety, and community,” he says. “This encourages the production of juicy, delicate coffees that are equally good in a blend or as a standalone single origin.”
In our experience, coffees from the José Olaya Cooperative are consistent, distinctive, and have a clean cup profile. You can generally expect notes of juicy pear, blackcurrant, roasted hazelnut, cocoa, and a citrusy acidity. In recent years, coffees from the coop have been dried on their new raised drying beds, which gives the final cup profile much more clarity.
We’re also delighted to announce that the first shipments of Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera José Olaya coffee will be arriving at our warehouse very soon. We can’t wait for our partners to taste and enjoy it!
Our partnership with the José Olaya Cooperative
Our partnership with the cooperative began when we started looking for an export partner in Peru that could provide excellent coffee and meet organic, Fair Trade, and bird-friendly certification requirements.
As part of our partnership with the coop, we’ve worked with local coffee farmers on a project called “Anyi”. This Quechua word roughly translates as “reciprocity”, a concept that can be traced back to Incan culture.
Today, in the coffee sector, we see this concept reflected as reciprocity with nature. The Incas believed this was a moral duty, since everything is linked to the living world.
Inspired by this recognition of the link between humanity and the natural world, the Anyi project is a collaborative effort to build covered solar drying stations and drying beds for producers in the region.
In 2020, we committed to building seven of these stations for José Olaya Cooperative members and contributed 80% of the cost of construction. There are plans to construct more of these stations in the future, too.
The José Olaya Cooperative has also established a plant nursery as part of this project. So far, more than 53,000 coffee seedlings have been planted, with the end goal of distributing them to farmer members.
Producers can use these seedlings to replace older Catimor plants with Typica, Bourbon, and Geisha trees. Catimor plants were once popular in Peru for their resistance to coffee leaf rust, but their flavour profile has become less desirable in the market over time, and they have a comparatively short lifespan.
In the future, we hope to support the construction of new micro mills for cooperative members through the Anyi project. These would allow each farm to clean, sort, and pulp coffee cherries more quickly after picking, helping them to avoid the risk of their crop spoiling.
We’ve been fortunate enough to work with the José Olaya Cooperative on several initiatives so far. Going forward, we hope this partnership will continue for many years to come, so we can keep bringing our roaster partners these great Peruvian coffees.