Comité El Laurel
El Laurel is a temperate small town with gorgeous scenery. The region’s reputation as a paradise for dairy farmers has brought economic stability, and coffee is poised to be the area's next economic success story.
The leader of Comité El Laurel, Alcibiades Malqui Garcia, is young, ambitious, and part of a large coffee-growing family. Another farmer here, Mavila Perez, runs a farm with her mother, Irene, providing a model for future farmers who want to balance the needs of a family with the promises of a growing profession.
In addition to outfitting the harvesters with proper fermentation tanks and drying surfaces that will help the comité achieve best practices, Origin Coffee Lab is working to modernize the plant mix. The freshly planted seeds promise to achieve higher cup scores, highlighting the pleasant sweetness of both the coffee and its area of origin.
Origin Coffee Lab
During a chance encounter in 2016, third-generation Peruvian coffee producer José Rivera (a.k.a Pepe) - whose father was also a coffee exporter - was introduced to the founder of Metric Coffee in Chicago, IL. This led to an extended stay in the city, where José assisted over the next several months with roasting, public cuppings, account management - really anything he could - in order to be fully immersed in the consumer side of the industry.
With this experience at the forefront, José and his wife Mariagracia returned to Peru to launch Origin Coffee Lab alongside coffee industry veteran, Alex Julca, as the Director of Quality. The founders' deep roots in Peruvian coffee inform Origin Coffee Lab's ethos: to showcase the standalone quality of Northern Peru's finest coffees.
Origin's owned facilities include two warehouses, one cupping lab, and one dry mill - all in Jaén. The dry mill is new for the 2021 season, and includes a vacuum packing line for mirco- and nano-lots. They also manage two remote labs for cherry collection - one in Colasay and one in La Palma-Chirinos.
OCL and Comités
The standard cooperative model in Peru has typically rewarded harvest quantity over quality, leaving little room for producers to improve cup quality and sustainability while also maintaining a living. Origin Coffee Lab approaches their work with local producer organizations, comités, by cupping and assessing individual producer lots rather than blended cooperative lots, and by paying premiums to each producer based on quality. OCL also provides education in agronomy and finance as well as technical assistance through their Solidario program.
Lime, Orange, Almond
Notes of lime and orange are often prominent in Jaén coffees, making citrus a sort of calling card for this region.
El Laurel includes producers who process their coffee by two different methods. One method employs a flotation process to remove debris and floaters from the coffee before passing the fruit through mechanical depulpers. The other method brings the coffee straight from harvest to the mechanical depulpers. The seeds are driven to tanks or bags, where they remain for 16-26 hours, this last step is either wet or dry in process. Farmers here dry their coffee in polypropylene tents, which they place on the ground under a shade and cover at night. Only one local producer dries on elevated beds.
Jaén, Cajamarca, Peru
Jaén is one of thirteen provinces in the northern department of Cajamarca, Peru. It is characterized by mountainous terrain, high temperatures, and a heavy rainfall season from October to March.
This is the region where Origin Coffee Lab has its main office. Most of the farms around Jaén are 2-3 hectares. Because of the larger farm sizes, it is significantly easier to bulk their coffee into lots. In addition, these farms’ proximity to OCL's office makes for less costly logistics and a much quicker feedback loop for product quality.
Photos & Content Courtesy of Origin Coffee Lab