In 2017, Elmer Guevara, a 4th generation coffee farmer, heard about a new coffee exporter that was trying to change the system for Peruvian coffee and do things differently for quality. Skeptical, Elmer went to Jaen to check out this new exporter, named Origin Coffee Lab. Based on his initial visit and talking to the owners, Elmer and his wife Lelya decided to turn in a just a few bags of their coffee in late 2017 and were paid better based on the quality than they had in previous years.
In 2018, Elmer and Lelya turned in more coffee to Origin Coffee Lab and even helped others in his community to turn in coffee and start working with Origin Coffee Lab. Through separating varieties, and focusing on cherry selection and processing, Elmer and Leyla have been among the best producers of coffees that Origin Coffee Lab exports. They have also become a key link to other growers in the communities of Bomboka and Viste Alegre where their farms are located.
Elmer Guevara and Leyla Mondragon own a few small farms in the communities of Viste Alegre and Bomboca.
One of their farms which they have owned since 2006 is named El Goyo, which is 2 hectares and located just outside the town of Viste Alegre. Their other farm is named Bolsal which they have had since 2012. Bolsasl is 1 hectare and in the community of Bomboca.
While Elmer is often the person associated with farms and the quality of the coffee, the farms are a family operation and Leyla is just as dedicated to the farm and quality as Elmer is. Often during harvest Leyla is awake by 3:30am preparing the day for harvest, and often times picking coffee herself while overseeing the operations.
In addition to coffee, Elmer and Leyla grow other crops like: yuca, plantain, guaba, and lemon on their farms, and even own a grocery store in the town of Viste Alegre. The entrepreneur spirit they share is certainly what has made their coffee successful, and they both continue to strive to create the best cup possible.
History of Origin Coffee Lab
Origin Coffee Lab was established in 2017 by Alex Julca, and José Rivera (aka Pepe). Alex is the son of coffee farmers and an experienced cupper, who worked for many years as a taster for one of the largest quality cooperatives in Peru. Pepe's family has been involved in the coffee business for decades, and he grew up surrounded by the coffee industry.
When Pepe, was in his mid 20's he moved to the US with his partner Mariagracia and ended up working in Chicago for a coffee roaster. While he worked at the roaster, Pepe was exposed to some of the best coffees in the world and wondered why Peru was often not represented. To Pepe, his home country of Peru seemed to have all the criteria to create amazing coffee so its under-representation nagged at him constantly. The idea of distinguishing coffees from Peru soon became his obsession. Jose and Mariagracia together made the decision to move back to Peru to join with Alex to create Origin Coffee Lab. With Alex and Pepe working together, and Mariagracia heading much of their social and sustainability efforts at the company, they set up a lab and office in the heart of the city of Jaen. Altogether they based the business on building unique systems for transparency and quality, that in a few short years has been able to create better markets for hundreds of coffee producer around the region.
Dark Fruit (Berry), Bright, Chocolate
If you are looking for a fruit forward, but still ultra clean coffee from northern Peru, there are not that many coffees that balance this as this as well as this lot from El Goyo. Light berry tones meld into a rounded but bright malic acidity - and are backed up with a milk chocolate and caramel-like sweetness.
After picking and sorting cherries for ripeness, the coffee is pulped into a small tank for fermentation. Fermentation is done dry, meaning it is fermented without being submerged in water. Fermentation time averages around 22 hours, depending on weather.
Colasay - Jaen, Peru
Colasay (pronounced cola- sī *rhymes with high) is one of the 12 district of the Region of Jaen, and is southwest of the actual town Jaen. The area is rugged and mountainous, with steep peaks and valleys. In general the area has a slightly drier climate than many of the more famous coffee production districts of Jaen. Before coffee was a popular crop in Colasay, it was a region of vast sugar cane plantains. Today, much of the sugar cane is gone and the land is widely open, scattered with a few family plots of coffee and other crops.
New in 2019
For the 2019 harvest, we bought more lots and selections from Elmer and Leyla than we did in 2018, and this represents the second year in a row that Atlantic Specialty has bought their coffee. We were also fortunate enough to meet and spend time with Elmer in Viste Alegre, and also met him in Jaen.