After a 10 hour drive through the Andes Mountains, I had finally reached the heart of the coffee producing region in Northern Peru, among the towns of San
Ignacio and Jaen. It became immediately evident that coffee is king here, as every other store front advertises “we buy coffee” and even the roads are
lined by long tarps where the beans are laid out to dry. My anticipation of that next hot cup of coffee was mounting (quality control is my favorite part
of the job), but I was thrown a curveball when on that first morning they placed a cup of hot water in front of me along with a small shot of “esencia de
café” which I was to mix into my hot water. This is the Peruvian version of “instant coffee,” only it tastes a lot worse. In truth, a lot of people in the
area don’t even drink coffee because they believe it is bad for your health. Still, this has also posed an interesting opportunity we are investigating
regarding raising the profile of coffee for internal consumption in Peru. Needless to say, asking someone out for coffee likely does not have the same
appeal here as it does in the US or Europe!
This has definitely been one of the most meaningful weeks of my time here in Peru, but also one of the most challenging. It can be easy to lose sight of
the people you are trying to help by getting caught up in the numbers, and these field visits were really a great way to put it all into perspective.