Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

Peru Travels 2006

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This is a famous 12 sided stone, which has a special significance that was accurately recorded in my notebook, which I am sure is in the seatback pocket of an AA 757 jet (well, I am sure it is in the trash by now at SFO or elsewhere)
That night we flew to Tarapoto, to perform the core mission of the trip, judge at the Competencia y Concurso de Huallaga - basically a regional coffee competition for a large region called San Martin and Huallaga Valley. I was head judge for this event. We stayed at a nice resort sorta place called Rio Shilcayo. Apparently they had a marching band a while back.
Our special guest at dinner that night.
Thankfully Elias pulled the Praying Mantis off the table and let him go ... or rather made him go.
Okay that night we did our calibration cupping and next day we went to work. Here is Mr Hisashi Yamamoto from Kyoto -Osaka Area. He has a roasting business and cafe called Unir, Spanish for unite.
Mario Parra is both a coffee farmer and a Peruano cupper in the San Martin area. He works at a coop, where (apparently) he is a volunteer even though he puts in long hours.
K.C. O'Keefe (ICS Peru) and Michael Phinney (Full City Coffee in Eugene Oregon) score a flight of coffee in the third round.
Hiroshi Irano from Tower Coffee in Japan. Like the others he is part of the cooperative of small coffee roasters who buy lots together, organized by Times Club.
Ms Yuko Yamada Itoi from Kyoto Japan, Times Club coffee. She was one of the most experience persons on the jury.
Madelane, a Peruana cupper who works with ICS Peru.
The sample roaster was this custom made Peruano machine and the roaster Zulay, did a nice job.
Elias Coronel is president of ICS Peru. He grew up in the Moyabama area, his father basically settled a small part of the Amazon which was a 2 hour boat ride into the jungle from there. He is a trained food scientist
Mr. Akiyo Itoi, husband of Yuko working from the floor. Hey, it is hard to hold a pencil, a cupping spoon, a spit cup AND a clip board!
Elias thinks
Akiyo does the numbers
Pouring the water. We used fairly small 150 ml bowls and 8.25 grams of ground coffee
The crew waits ...
Entering in the data from the cupping forms. There is always an independent auditor that handles this.
Alex, a cupper with a cooperative here, was also on the jury. Here he is giving an interview to the local press ... one of the main points of cupping events: promote cup quality, cupping, and good farming/coffee processing practices
That night, Yuko, KC and I were supposed to do an interview for TV. I didn't know we had to leave the hotel. The driver, from the US AID funded Chemonix group, didn't seem to know where the station was. Finally he told us to get out on this street (was it some sort of set up?)
But in fact THIS was the TV studio, and in fact they are a local affiliate of a national broadcast and often get run all through Peru
Amazing because it is the most guerilla TV -like setup I have ever seen, which actually really impressed me. It's amazing how people can strip a process to the bare bones and reinvent it. Anyway, there was some big accidents in the area that day so our time was cut in half - but it aired and the turnout at the finals the next day was sizeable.
Next morning, before the final cupping, hanging out at the parrot cages.
They are beautiful, well cared for ...
but they also like to eat camera lenses...
I don't know my parrots well, but this was a big fella
Incredible feathers ...
And also an eater-of-camera-lenses.
Oh yeah, there were peacocks roaming around the grounds too, not bad lookers themselves.
I gave a presentation for one half hour in Spanish that afternoon on Home Roasting and Green Coffee Quality ... thought my head judge responsibilities were over, but then I found I had to accept the envelope, announce the winners, and shake hands. Welcome to the big time Thompson Owen!
I did my best. Tried to be dramatic. Hopefully I didn't mess up any names. KC in the background...
Do I look dazed or what. This is the 4th place winner, Fermin Clemente Rufino
This is the closest I'll ever get to winning. The winning farm was from the Lamas region, Andres Soberon Gonzales. In general, the coffees were not as dazzling as Cusco and Puno region coffees, but they were sweet, and balanced. Andres' coffee was a clearcut winner, with 10 of 11 judges ranking it in the top categories, and certainly Specialty Coffee.
Andres gave a really nice speech and I admit being near a tear - it really was a great honor for him, plus the grand prize includes a brand new pulper for his mill, not bad!
Famous for now, and if Andres can produce this quality again next year, he will be famous again. That's one benefit of competitions: raise the farmer out of anonymity and honor their good work, if for 15 minutes on Peru National TV.
Los Cinco Ganadores for the Concurso Regional de Cafe de Calidad. Well, there's just a trace of a smile there somewhere. Really I know these guys were, as we say in Cali, "stoked". From Left: 5th -Ramiro Barrantes Davila from Lamas, 4th -Fermin Clemente Ruffino from Tingo Maria, 1st -Andres Soberon Gnzales from Lamas, 2nd - Eugenio Anselmo Pacheco from Tingo Maria 3rd - Evaristo Vargas Cruz from Tingo Maria
The winners, again, with the Japanese judges, and me, "Jefe de Jueces"
My favorite picture of them, as they posed for the newspaper photograher.
The results they handed me...
"You did a great job" "Thanks, you did a great job too" "You know this worked out great" "Yes, thanks to your great work" Etc etc etc.
That night, dinner in the wild crazy happening town of Tarapoto. This is the major form of transport, the motocar, and there are thousands of them. You feel like a bee in a swarm. This car has KC and Hiroshi in it.
Crazy little dog outside the restaurant that looks a bit like my favorite garbage-digging mutt, Francy. This fella's name was Rocky, the woman who ran the Huana cart told me.
Inside the restaurant, some compelling artwork. I guess this is really what the local Quechua/Amazonia people look like. Egad!
Next day we headed out to the town of Lamas, where, it appears from the monument in the town square, Spaniards and native tribes shook hands and decided "let's just get along".
Forgetting revisionist history the kids just wonder the water is?
Commemorating the use of a Pilon ... well they are handy, an oversized mortar and pestle, and used among other things to grind coffee.
A better look at the amputee they call the Motocar. All are 125 cc or less, so with 3 fat gringos plus the operator, they have a hard time on hills. Skygo?
I was excited to hit the marketplace (it was a Sunday) but we were way too late getting there. It starts at 4 am. By 11 am this is all that is left.
Salted fishes of many types. No, no Piranha.
Amazon fishes
More photogenic fishes
And more
Amazing black corn, just barely dried. The selection of fresh fruit and vegetables is amazing. Lamas is considered a gateway to the Amazon. Nobody will ever starve here.
All kinds of chili peppers. In the bag was a dried fruit that tasted like a nut - very nice.
Beautiful chilis
In the local museum, the other side of the pastoral picture. It wouldn't be Eden without a snake - this one, the Naca-Naca, kills you within 10 minutes.
Local architecture at Lamas, a mix of tile and metal roofs
Evidence is everywhere for the earthquake that struck last year, and everyone will tell you about the damage from the "terramoto". But in fact only 1 person died in Lamas.
Some houses have not been rebuilt. This is not adobe but rather a mud packed into a form, like concrete. The terramoto didn't level buildings as much as it damaged them irrepairably.
A good indication of the damage here... once again, it probably didn't fall in the quake but was taken down after due to cracks. 1500 houses were destroyed in Lamas town alone.

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