Cusco Choice Organic

Living high up in the Andes jungle region at 3,000 – 3,500 feet above sea level, 296 ranchers – 39 of whom are women – grow premium beans for the coffee and cocoa worlds.

Since 1966, the Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera José Olaya, Ltd. has worked to organize and train farmers in organic and sustainable agriculture and to cooperatively process and market their crops.

Among the cooperative’s first goals was a push to educate growers in organic and sustainable practices for growing both coffee and cacao. Predictably, CAC José Olaya beans gained new depth and consistency of flavor and came to the attention of single-source and premium bean hunters.

Raising the bar, then, the cooperative turned its eyes on bean grading. Too many defective beans made their way into sacks. CAC José Olaya wanted the best ratings. This had to improve in order to fetch a high price on the world market, but there simply were no quality control specialists to hire. Thinking creatively, the cooperative found a quality control expert from elsewhere in Peru to train five local youth from coffee-producing families.

These five trainees founded the organization’s quality control team. The young specialists now work not only in the central town, Quillabamba, but also travel throughout the region to teach entire farming families post-harvest processes that yield high quality coffee and cacao beans. This and other far-sighted pushes to develop skill in youths of the region appears to be stemming the rush of young people to city jobs and keeping ranches operating in multi-generational hands.

Today’s cooperative is a strong competitor in the international market for coffee and cacao. The cooperative’s coffee beans are rated Grade 1, Specialty Grade.

What About the Name?

Afro-Peruvian hero José Olaya (b. 1782) fought for Peruvian liberty. The fisherman carried communications between liberty fighters at sea and on the ground, walking and swimming great distances. When he was captured, he swallowed the messages. Though jailed and tortured, he never revealed their content and was executed in Lima on June 29, 1823. His final words were, “If I had a thousand lives, I would give all of them for my nation.”

Cupping and Certification

Farmers use eco-friendly organic practices for raising and processing beans and hold a slew of certifications:

  • USDA organic
  • Japanese Organic Standard (JAS)
  • Rainforest Alliance
  • Fairtrade International
  • Institute for Market Ecology

After all these descriptive words, it boils down to great flavor and aroma. Just give Cusco Choice Organic a try and we’re sure you’ll have found a new favorite.