They say third time is a charm. This, our third collaboration with Empire Coffee Roasters was certainly a bit special for us.
A few months back we started discussing another collaboration and talking about offerings from Empire's current line up. Soon followed the discussion from Empire Coffee Roasters about their plans to add another origin to their range. Never before have we been involved in a coffee as much as this one. We were fortunate enough to be taken through the process from beginning to end and involved at every step along the way. From sampling and selecting origins to taste testing roast profiles and creating our own recommended filter recipe for the talk cards of this coffee, a recipe we have featured below. A humbling experience and an indication of just how far our relationships have come over the years.
We are proud to call Empire Coffee Roasters friends, as we are to introduce this coffee today.
TYPICA (A journey to Peru)
The variant of the Typica group found in Peru started its journey as a singular plant taken from Java to the botanical gardens in Amsterdam in 1706. Colonialism saw Typica being introduced along trade routes, with its path taking it on a 40 plus year journey through Brazil, beginning in the north in 1722 before slowly making its way south and onto Peru some years later.
Considered one of Peru’s heirloom varieties, more than two centuries after its introduction, Typica accounts for more than half of the coffee exported by the South American nation who’s annual coffee harvest accounts for 2 percent of global production.
But the relevance of Typica spans beyond South America, with it remaining one of the most genetically significant varieties of the C. Arabica species to this day. Research indicates its point of origin to lay in the forests in south western Ethiopia. The movement of Typica Bourbon (think Adam and Eve) seeds as its lineage is commonly referred today, was to be the first step in the journey of coffee. Research suggests Typica was isolated as a variety (or group of varieties) its own right as a result of seeds taken to Indonesia that made their way to India and into the wider world, not directly from Yemen as once believed.
Founded in 1977 with a mere 50 members from the region of Satipo, comes Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa (CAC Pangoa). East of the Andes mountain range in the central Amazon region lays their headquarters. Faithfully serving members 45 years on, it gives an indication of the long history and foundation of the cooperative. It began with an agreement that 3 percent of ever sale would be set aside for internal investment, this lead to the construction of infrastructure that would benefit the cooperative members, much of which is still utilised by almost 700 members today.
Todays membership numbers are overshadowed by their peak in the 1980’s, but it is the dark cloud of history that casts the biggest shadow over the cooperatives’ low numbers, with many members fleeing for their lives to the cities from their once peaceful lands to escape what is now referred to as El Periodo del Terrorismo. Fast forward to their achievement of organic certification in 2001, Pangoa took two further steps to ensuring a better future for their members. The first, an education fund, allowing loans of up to $2000 for university fees and a medical care fund for accessing interest free loans of up to $600(usd) to pay for medical treatment. This commitment has in later years lead to funds to assist with planting shade trees, improving living standards and funeral costs to name a few.
El Periodo del Terrorismo:
A dark period in the recent history of Peru and a low low in the history of CAC Pangoa is El Periodo del Terrorismo. Described by officials as an internal war or a fight against terrorism, is an internal armed conflict that spanned two decades from 1980 – 2000. Beginning with the formation of terrorist organisation Shining path in 1978, founded by a former philosophy professor who’s ideals were inspired by a visit to communist china in 1965. The group, with what can be described as communist ideals sought to deconstruct the democratic society and replace it with what can be best described as a self sufficient hermit nation.
The offensive tactic was to gain power of poor communities, both rural and urban, starting in the remote areas of the Andes with a campaign of fear and violence. An objective achieved having spent the previous decade recruiting and training soldiers from rural indigenous groups and impoverish urban locations. When violence broke out in May 1980, it didn’t take the 10,000 strong (at its peak) group long to escalate into various terrorist activities including assignations and bombings of urban areas that cumulated in a reign of terror responsible for the death or disappearance of an estimated 70,000 people. While the 1992 arrest and life imprisonment of their leader following the conviction on terrorism and treason charges hit the group hard, at the time of his death in 2021 (age 86) it still has a few active members in the coca producing areas outside of Ayacucho, a town in the Andes.
Photo credit: John Burton Limited