After taking a tour of their production facility, property, and snapping a few pictures, I sat down with Jim sipping a mug of coffee and conversation. Jim Bowers, a U.S. Navy Veteran hailing from Albuquerque New Mexico and married to Gloria Rubeo, has lived in Peru for over ten years.
PA: What led you into the coffee business?
Jim: “Six and a half years ago, the school district wanted a way to earn cash and formed the ACDH – Association of Coffee of the District of Huancabamba, but later pulled out of the deal retrieving all the equipment.” Jim and Gloria continued on by purchasing their own roasters, grinders and peeler. Now local coffee growers bring coffee to Jim to process.
PA: How did you come up with the name Don Gringo? Jim replied that all his neighbors affectionately call him Don Gringo.
Coffee cherries on the plant. They have a sweet taste, and of course the seeds or pits are the coffee beans.
About the Product:
100% Organically Sourced Arabica Specialty Coffee, grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or GMO’s
Delicious Single Origin blends of Bourbon, Catuai, Caturra and Typica Arabica Coffee Beans. You will sense sweet notes of honey, floral, dried fruits with a chocolate aftertaste.
Don Gringo’s Coffee Beans are a French Dark Roast Peruvian Andes’ Gourmet Arabica Selection. Single Origin Blend, and organically sourced.
This French (Dark) Roast Coffee is Strictly Hard Bean (SHB), High Altitude and Shade Grown on property that offers pure water streams and a friendly environment for birds, bees and wildlife in general.
This specialty coffee comes from the Huancabamba Valley located in the Eastern Peruvian Andes (Alta Selva) meaning High Jungle.
The coffee is grown under shade trees with an ideal amount of sunlight passing through, at an altitude of 5,500 – 6,000 ft. and irrigated by crystal clear rain showers.
The USDA Defines “Organic” as (Grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation.) “Don Gringo’s meets these requirements”, Jim says, ‘but our coffee plants and those from our neighbors are not USDA certified, at least not yet.’ Furthermore, respecting the USDA’s labeling standards for organic products, “we cannot label or advertise our coffee as Organic.”
“We are working to become USDA Certified Organic, saving enough funds to pay for the certification is challenging, the cost of that process is still very high for us, and it takes three years to become certified.” This is a small Mom and Pop operation.
Specialty Coffee Association of America SCAA.ORG Total Score Quality Classification (Cupping Test) 85 – 89.9 Excellent. Don Gringo’s Coffee has a rating of 86% on cupping tests.
Coffee production building.
Peeler. There are four layers of the coffee bean that is removed, note the pile of husks in the background above.
The above picture represents roasting time; for each minute in the roaster, the coffee beans become a shade darker.
Peru was one of the top 20 coffee producers as of 2014 and according to the USDA Gain Reports, its Foreign Agriculture Service reports 4.5 million bags at 60-Kilograms per bag for marketing year 2017/2018, an increase of 7% over prior year.
For years Peru has struggled with coffee leaf rust outbreaks, and now exports are forecast to continue increasing as coffee leaf rust outbreaks abate and planted area expands as a result of the government’s program to renew 80,000 hectares of coffee land.
Coffee rust arrived from Central America, and entered Peru through the northern border, spreading quickly to the south. The Huancabamba – Pasco region was largely unaffected however.
Domestic consumption in 2017/2018 is estimated at 180,000 bags, increasing 10k bags compared to 2016/17. While overall coffee consumption in Peru remains low, it has doubled in the past five years. Peru’s population of 30M has an annual per capita consumption of 650 grams.
Production occurs throughout the eastern slope of the Andes, production concentrated in three main growing areas; Chanchamayo 16%, Amazonas and San Martin combined 47% of national production.
Peru produces almost exclusively Arabica Coffee, 70% Typica variety followed by Caturra at 20%, and others 10%
75% of Peru’s coffee cultivation occurs between 1,000 – 1,800 meters above sea level. Most coffee is shade grown and plant density on farms averages 2,000 plants per hectare (1.49 acres) Coffee in Peru remains largely handpicked and sun dried, and from small producers.
Jim said, “Acidic soil makes the land fertile. Coffee needs rain and a dry season till the end of September. Coffee flowers only last a day or two and if it rains during that time, it can knock the flowers off the plant, thus producing less coffee.”
The coffee comes in the plain blue foil-lined bags, or the brown foil-lined bag inside the Andean cloth reusable gift bag. Both equipped with a one way off-gassing valve, and in whole bean or ground.
Other plants on the property are the pineapple below…
…And the Peruvian Poinsettia.
Not all coffee cherries are red, as shown below.
Don Gringo’s Coffee is sold in a major supermarket chain here in Peru, which is where I first learned of it. It is FDA approved for importation into the United States, and I’m proud to be able to export it from Peru, to your favorite coffee mug.