Peru is not just the home of the famed Machu Picchu and its long-standing culture.
It is also home to some of the best specialty coffee beans in the world. While Peruvian coffee might not be as well-known compared to other countries in Central or South America, it’s one of the largest global producers of Arabica.
Below we take a look at our favorite Peruvian coffee brands, but if you’re in a rush, here’s our top pick:
Peruvian Coffee History
Compared to other Central and South American countries, Peru was one of the first countries to begin coffee cultivation. Where the first Peruvian coffee plants originated from Ecuador during the early 1700s.
At the time, most coffees sipped in Europe and the United States were made with beans exported from Southeast Asia. But, during the late 1800s, crop disease (coffee rust) decimated production, but demand was only increasing.
Consequently, supply from the Latin Americas, including Peru skyrocketed.
Government and foreign investments helped the country and its coffee industry scale up exports by the following century. By 2018, Peru became the 11th largest coffee producer and is 5th in overall Arabica production across the world.
Today, the best Peruvian coffees are grown in small farms and mostly without artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Due to the support from development groups and cooperatives, most farmers grow organic coffee and are well compensated through fair-trade practices.
The 5 Best Peruvian Coffee Beans 2021
This Peruvian coffee is roasted by one of our favorite coffee brands, Volcanica, and sourced from the Chanchamayo region, where the beans are grown at 900 meters above sea level. It’s certified organic without any use of chemicals, and as it’s fair-trade and ensures that the farmers get their fair share from the profits.
You can expect to smell and taste floral and tart notes reminiscent of lemongrass and plum with a nougat-like sweetness. Along with the mellow flavors, you’ll enjoy a full-bodied coffee with smoky overtones and a clean finish.
This one’s best enjoyed black and brewed manually to savor the complex floral notes. Now, if you don’t have access to a grinder, these beans are available in a variety (grind) sizes of pre-ground coffee along with regular fresh whole bean coffee.
Overall, its complex flavor, sweetness, and body gives it the edge over our other picks. As a result, this single-origin is our top pick when it comes to the best Peruvian coffee.
Peruvian coffee is known for its light flavor, but if you’re looking for a bolder cup of joe, this pick by Fresh Roasted is likely up your street.
These beans are organic fair trade certified. Sourced from the Cajamarca region under a local cooperative dedicated to long-term eco-friendly sustainability and yielding the best quality out of each coffee bean.
Balanced notes of cinnamon, caramel, oranges, and even nutmeg complement its bold and creamy body.
Overall, If you prefer a heavier body, you’ll likely enjoy Peruvian beans from Fresh Roasted Coffee.
Prefer a shot of espresso with familiar flavors throughout your day? Mount Comfort Coffee’s medium roast Peruvian coffee hits the bill!
Grown along the Chanchamayo and Chontali region of Peru’s highlands, these beans are cultivated in nutrient-rich soil, giving them a unique flavor profile and a well-rounded body. With notes of milk chocolate, citrus, and nuts, these beans are perfect for espresso, lattes, or even a cold brew.
A few things to note if you want to purchase this one, it is only available as whole bean in 2.5lb bags, making it a great pick if you prefer drinking this Peruvian roast via a variety of different brewing methods.
Overall, I consider Mount Comfort’s Peruvian coffee to be the perfect pick if you’re after a coffee that’s easy and comfortable (pun intended) to dial-in its flavors in everyday workflow.
Related read: espresso coffees
Java Planet is a family-run roaster that specializes in organic, fair-trade, and bird-friendly coffee.
These coffee beans are a medium-dark roast, with a hint of smokiness and a bolder body to balance the flavor. Perfectly paired with foamed milk for a tasty latte!
When it comes down to brewing, you can have the best beans from around the world, but if they aren’t freshly roasted, they won’t hit the mark. Thankfully, Java Planet roasts this organic coffee in small batches for optimum brewing at home.
Available as pre ground coffee or whole bean, take your pick and experiment like the mad scientist you are!
Overall, this pick is a good choice for those of you looking to buy Peruvian coffee on Amazon.
5. Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Organic SWP Decaf Peruvian Coffee
Loved the idea of Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Peruvian coffee we listed above but prefer something without the caffeine boost?
These beans are decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process. Removing up to 99.9% of the caffeine from the whole bean while retaining the coffee’s original flavors. Its medium roast profile gives it a full body with a smooth mouthfeel while preserving a pleasant hint of acidity.
Sourced from select farms in the Cajamarca region where the coffee trees are grown at high altitudes ranging from 900 up to 2,000 meters above sea level for optimal flavor.
With notes of almond and chocolate and a hint of sweet cream to finish, I find these beans best brewed using drip or espresso.
Overall, Fresh Roasted Coffee’s SWP Decaf Peruvian Coffee is a great pick if you’re cutting down your caffeine intake. It’s also organically grown and fair-trade, so it’s eco-friendly too!
The Peruvian Coffee Buyer’s Guide
Why is coffee from Peru popular?
As with most coffee-growing regions in Central and South America, Peru sits on the coffee belt, making it perfectly suited to cultivate premium Arabica coffee beans. The combination of high elevation, cool climate, and frequent rainfall are essential factors in coffee production, and Peru has all of these in spades.
What sets the country’s coffee industry, apart from other coffee-producing countries in the world is its emphasis on quality.
Most Peruvian coffees are grown in small micro-lots where people handpick and hand-process each coffee bean. The coffee farmers also have little to no access to chemical pesticides and fertilizers, meaning the majority of Peruvian beans are organically grown.
Farming standards are governed by local cooperatives, focusing on sustainable farming practices and the welfare of the farmers.
As such, most Peruvian coffee beans are direct-trade or fair-trade certified. These factors tend to elevate Peruvian beans towards specialty coffee grade status, given the premium quality of the coffee cherries used at harvest. And of course, coffee Peru is popular due to its pleasant taste and body.
Typical Peruvian Coffee Tasting Notes
Arabica is the main production and export in Peru, and it is known for its superior flavor and quality compared to other coffee species.
Typically, Peruvian coffee is often nutty with mild acidity and a light to medium body. It is also known for its sweetness since the beans are cultivated at higher elevations, allowing the cherry’s sugars to ferment slowly.
With that said, it’s always a good thing to remember that the flavors of the coffee can depend on its roast profile, varietal, and growing conditions no matter what country it comes from.
Coffee growing region each produce contrasting flavors within the same country often because of localized microclimates that occur at higher altitudes.
For example, coffee from the Andes mountain range is associated with notes of milk chocolate, caramel, and nuts. Whereas other Peruvian coffees are usually lighter, accompanied by a mellow acidity.
Coffee beans from the Chanchamayo Valley are light-to-medium bodied with a complex flavor of citrus and chocolate.
The best Peruvian coffee beans from the Amazonas and San Martin often have a bold and creamy body. Accompanied with citrus and berry notes with a hint of chocolate in its finish.
The flavors from the Southern Highlands contrasts with a lighter brew. High-quality Peru coffee from Cuzco often has complex flavor profiles that include raisins, plums, and even wine due to its fertile rich soil, extreme altitude, and cool weather.
Ayacucho coffee is good for espressos thanks to dominant notes of chocolate and nuts all in a medium body, while beans from Puno are more suited for pour-overs due to its fruity flavor and lighter mouthfeel. Of course, the roast also factors into the end flavor, with darker roasted coffees taking on a smoky character.
Coffee Growing Regions in Peru
Peru’s economy is mainly driven by agriculture, where whole regions are exclusively dedicated to farmlands and crop production.
Peruvian farmers typically take advantage of the geography and grow coffee at high altitudes that average around 1550 meters above sea level.
Coffee is one of the primary exports in Peru, and several regions have optimum growing conditions for high-quality Arabica beans. These include the farmlands located alongside the Andes mountains in eastern and central Peru.
Nonetheless, farmers in the southern highlands also cultivate coffee but to a much lesser extent than in the growing regions surrounding the Andes.
Andes Mountain Range
The Andes is renowned for the largest continental mountain range in the world. It’s here where the climate and elevation are perfect for cultivating coffee trees. Most are grown at high altitudes around 980 – 1850 meters above sea level.
The majority of the beans harvested in the area are produced by farmers who own small lots, ranging from one to three hectares each. This allows for better quality control in cultivation and is why coffee from the Andes mountains is prized for its complexity.
Chanchamayo Coffee Peru
Another coffee-growing region in the country is the Chanchamayo valley, situated around the Andes mountain range.
The valley also produces some of the highest-quality Peruvian coffee beans due to the fertile soil and higher than average elevations.
Amazonas Coffee Peru
At the northern tip of the country lies the department of Amazonas where it is rife with rainforests and mountain ranges suitable for growing coffee beans. Around 60% of arable land is dedicated to small coffee farms where the farmers immediately process the beans after harvest.
The Peruvian coffee trees are grown at around 1750 – 2000 meters above sea level, making it a strictly high-grown (SHG) coffee. The fact it’s grown at such a high altitude results in a sweeter cup of coffee because the higher the elevation, the slower the flavor of the coffee bean matures.
San Martin Coffee Peru
The region of San Martin is also located in the northern part of Peru. It features plenty of areas perfectly suited for agriculture due to its proximity to the Huallage River, the Andean Plateau, and the Amazon.
Coffees are grown at lower elevations compared to other regions, typically around 900 – 1,200 meters above sea level, and plenty of San Martin farmers grow organic coffee due to incentives from the local cooperatives.
Another advantage for the region is that more farmland is dedicated towards coffee cultivation in this area, making San Martin the third-largest producing region in Peru’s coffee industry.
Southern Highlands Coffee Peru
The Southern Highlands region accounts for almost a quarter of Peru’s coffee production, including the towns of Cuzco, Ayacucho, and Puno. The arable land near the landmark of Machu Picchu also produces coffee!
Coffee beans grown near the city of Cuzco are raised between 900 – 1,200 meters above sea level. Cuzco’s coffee production is not as dominating as in other regions, but its distinct flavor notes make it a must-try for any Peruvian coffee lover.
Whereas, the city and region of Ayacucho sit at an elevation between 1,600 – 1,900 meters above sea level and are relatively new to growing beans.
Lastly, bordering Bolivia, Puno produces small amounts of coffee compared to the other parts of the country, but its flavor is renowned due to its complexity and balanced acidity.
How to brew coffee from Peru?
Peruvian coffee beans are highly versatile when it comes to different brewing methods.
Depending on the roast, this can range from a mellow-bodied cup of coffee at lighter roast profiles, while a dark roast will lead to a bolder body.
Brewing as pour-over is perfect for Peruvian coffee beans that have floral and fruity notes. This particular brewing method extracts the soluble compounds in your coffee more evenly, leading to complex flavors and making subtle notes pop out in your cup.
Prefer to take your coffee’s body up a notch? Try brewing using a French press. This method immerses your ground coffee, which extracts as much flavor as possible. One thing to always consider is to use the correct coarse grind size. Otherwise, you might end up sipping on the slurry of sediments in the bottom of your cup!
Espresso is always a good choice, with beans roasted at a medium to dark level. It fits perfectly well with a Peruvian brew with strong notes of cacao and nuts, making for a flavorful milky latte or flat while.
You can also try brewing Peruvian coffee traditionally if you want to drink coffee Peruvian how it’s supposed to be.
Peruvians have their own unique take on drip coffee called a Pasado, which requires a dual-chamber brewer with a middle filter. What makes it different is it’s slower extraction time and a tighter ratio of coffee to water, making it a concentrated form of a pour-over.
There is also a cold brew version of the Pasado, which is steeped for 12 hours inside the same vessel.
Take note that the best way to brew your coffee depends on your preference, so feel free to try out your Peruvian coffee with different methods.
Some parts of Peru also produce the infamous Kopi Luwak or “dung coffee”. While It’s said that the beans harvested from the feces of the animal are more full-bodied and flavorful..we disagree!
The Final Verdict
The best Peruvian coffee, in our opinion, is Volcanica Coffee’s Peru Coffee. It’s full-body combined with mellow yet complex flavors makes it a must-try, and it’s certified organic and fair-trade coffee to boot.
Like other coffee beans from the Americas, Peru has a lot to offer in the world of specialty coffee, so keep brewing! Who knows? Peruvian coffees might be your new favorite single-origin.