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Selling Peru's coffee to Peruvians

AAP logoAAP 6/09/2016 By Elise Scott

Harrysson Neira was three years old when he had his first sip of coffee on a farm in northern Peru.

Now 26, he's on a mission to make sure every Peruvian gets to have that experience.

In his quaint but trendy organic coffee shop Curador De Cafe in Lima, Neira is trying to impart his love of Peruvian beans onto locals, expats and tourists.

"Peruvian people drink a lot of coffee, but we drink bad coffee," Neira explains.

"We have really good coffee here, but we don't consume it."

Neira grew up with his grandmother on a coffee farm in northern Peru and remembers her waking up early every morning to bake bread in a clay oven and roast beans over hot coals.

She taught him the entire coffee process, a skill he's adopted to bring his blends to Lima.

"My grandmother started me on coffee, and she made me understand the value."

For that value, he's willing to walk hours through the jungle to find just the right bean.

His Cusco coffee, which he admits he's most proud of, comes from a farm in Vilcabamba, located deep in the jungle and 1650 metres above sea level.

Neira recalls walking one and half hours through tough jungle terrain, after a three-hour car journey, to discover the farm.

"I was very, very excited, but also tired," he says.

"I'm very proud we're still serving this coffee because it was hard work to find it."

The beans boast hints of chocolate and nuts, but it's best asset is its story, which Neira loves sharing with customers.

"I like to connect with a producers and show the finished product here," he says.

"Just like my grandmother did with us."

Peru exports most of its coffee to countries like Australia, the United States and Germany.

But with gastronomy quickly taking hold in Peru, and particularly in Lima, young entrepreneurs like Neira are trying to bring those tastes into cafes and onto restaurant tables.

"Peruvian gastronomy is growing a lot. The food is really, really tasty, we have amazing products, but the coffee is not growing with this speed," he says.

To change that, Neira is working with some of the city's best chefs to create specific blends for their menus.

He's got plans to open two more coffee shops in Lima and dreams of taking his blends to New York.

"We are young, so we have time to do things," he says.

Neira's coffee shop is part of small artisan market-place Perupa'ti , which also houses a bar, sandwich cafe and two restaurants.

It's one of several organic, gourmet hubs popping up around Lima as young entrepreneurs set their sights on quality produce in trendy settings.

Gabriel Briceno, co-owner of nearby bakery el pan de la Chola, says good coffee was hard to find until recently.

El pan de la Chola isn't a specialty coffee cafe, but tries to produce one type of good coffee for its customers to sip on over a pastry or sandwich.

"The number of coffee shops you could find five years or seven years ago was minimal" he says.

"Now there are many new coffee shops coming out, specialty coffee shops."

IF YOU GO

GETTING THERE

Lima is about 19 hours from Sydney with one stop. There is no direct flight to Lima, with visitors required to stop over in Santiago. LATAM Airlines (www.latam.com.au) offers flights with two stops - through Auckland and Santiago - from $A2100.

STAYING THERE

Lima's Miraflores tourist district offers a range of hotels of differing standards. The Marriott, just set back from the waters edge, has luxurious rooms starting from $A427. Visit www.marriott.com.au/JWMarriott

PLAYING THERE

There are plenty of taxis in Lima to get you around the city. If you're worried about organising activities or transport, booking a tour is a simple, stress-free way to take it all in. Condor Travel (www.condortravel.com) offers several tour options - from two days exploring Lima to two weeks venturing into other parts of Peru.

Harrysson Neira's Curador De Cafe is located in market-place Perupa-ti just near Lima's tourist district Miraflores at Armendariz 546, Lima District, Peru.

* The writer travelled as a guest of PromPeru.

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