Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peruvian Coffee

The main cash crops of Peru are:
1. Coca--the leaves from which cocaine is manufactured.
2. Coffee--more than 350 million dollars worth, per year.
3. Asparagus
4. Paprika

The surprising item listed here is Coffee. People don't usually think of Peru as a great coffee producer, since the bulk of advertising regards Costa Rican and Colombian coffees. Nonetheless, Peru also produces great coffee. The irony has been that, even though the country produced great coffee, it was nearly impossible to get any of it in Peru. In the past, they exported all of the good stuff to the states. As such, in the past, our missionary friends in Peru would have friends bring coffee with them when they visited from the states. Or, in a truly ironic situation, you would have to buy Peruvian coffee at Starbucks--coffee which had been grown and roasted in Peru, shipped to the states for packaging, then shipped back to Peru for sale. As you can imagine, it's expensive. Now there is a move among coffee producers in Peru to hold back some of their produce for Peruvian consumption. That's really good news for me, since I love good coffee and my time in Costa Rica has only served to refine my tastes. I believe that God has some wonderful blessings for us in Peru and I'm believing that a good cup of coffee is one of them. (For more on Peruvian coffee, please visit:

A couple thoughts about the cash crops listed above:

1. Coca--though cocaine is produced from these leaves, they are also used for other productive purposes. In the culture of the people, they use them to make tea which is very effective for altitude sickness. Many of the tourists who visit Cuzco and Machu Pichu treat their altitude sickness with a traditional cup of coca tea.

2. Coffee--it's not really a bean. It's a fruit. On the trees, the fruit looks like cherries and produces a sweet juice. Inside the Cherri is the seed. That's the part we roast, grind and brew to make coffee. Who figured that out?

3. Asparagus--this is the first vegetable that I realized I really liked. It was a great eye opening experience which is still impacting my life today. My second favorite vegetable is broccoli.

4. Paprika--(the ground chilies at left) I know nothing about paprika, other than that it is used in baking. As such, I find it hard to think of paprika as a cash crop. When someone asks, "What do you do for a living?" Does anyone say, "Why, little darlin', I'm a Paprika farmer!" This is amazing to me.

1 comment:

Deb said...

I always like a good coffee story! I'm partial to African coffee myself. I wonder if they shade grow in Peru?