Processing Exploration in Peru

Can innovative processing truly increase the quality of the final cup?

Zest continued our Peruvian projects this year, working with Faical coffee and third generation farmers Lisandro & Gladis Jiminez and their son Fernando to dive into this question.

This trip took our own Darren Stinson and Manny Abela onto the Jiminez’s farm located in San Ignacio, Cajamrca, Peru. Here, the team experimented with different post-harvest processing methods with red & yellow Caturra to demonstrate and showcase the impact of processing on the final cup.




This origin trip continues Zest rich origin partner program. After successful past projects in Peru with Bosque Verdes, and other projects in Papa New Guinea and Sumatra, Zest has a hunger to help farmers produce better quality coffee. We do this by focusing on alternative ways of processing to significantly increase the value of small-holder crops.

In the last Peru trip, the team experimented with low oxygen fermentation on washed, honey and natural processed coffees. Results then moved coffees scoring low 80’s to high 80’s on the SCAA scoring system.




The fire was lit to explore more processes to further improve the coffee of small-holder farmers in Peru. Teaming up with Co-operative Facial coffee, who believe just as strongly in supporting coffeekind, the boys got their hands dirty at Finca Jiminez.

Same farm. Same Varietal. All picked within a 48-hour period. The difference? Purely the post-harvesting techniques used, to highlight and improve the characteristics in the cup.

This year, we experimented with a commercial saccharomyces yeast from Lal Cafe in a bid to accentuate and uplift the underlying fruit and florals within the caturra varietal grown on this farm. Also, we experimented with lactic double fermentation, anaerobic natural and fruit maceration.

And to highlight the difference, Zest secured a lot which utilized the traditional process that the Jiminez’s use on their farm. This washed coffee is the control lot which we can gauge the project’s success.




Faical Coffee is a 100% Peruvian company which focuses exclusively on having strategic relationships with producers and sourcing specialty coffee.

Faical Coffee is run by brothers Richard & Lenin Jaramillo who are dedicated to the cultivation and marketing of specialty coffees. Their purpose is to help Peruvian farmers to have a better lifestyle and contribute to improving livelihoods.

Faical Coffee works with 400+ producers of specialty coffee throughout the Cajamarca region, accompanying producers through the entire production process. From soil testing, planting, plant health and agronomy all the way to post harvest processing and fermentation. Faical offers technical advice and training on all issues farmers face in order to improve the quality of their final cup. Thus, Faical helps producers receive a fair and equitable price for their coffee, improving the quality of life of each producing family.

Futher, Faical Coffee is invested in environmental responsibility. In their work with coffee farming families, Faical ensures good agricultural practices to conserve the flora and fauna on each producing farm.

One such producing family Faical supports is the Jiminez’s. In fact, the Jiminez family has a tight connection to Faical coffee as their son, Fernando, works for Faical.

Faicals ethos suited Zest’s values of supporting coffeekind, making for a wonderful collaboration. So, through working with Faical coffee, we were able to conduct our experiments on the wonderful Finca Jiminez Farm.

As Faical says:


Without Faical, we could not build on our understanding of how innovative processing can improve coffee.




Gladis and Lissandro are third generation coffee farmers who have owned this beautiful sprawling estate for the last forty-two years.

Their farm is located 1800 meters above sea level in the Cajamarca region of Peru. Here, at the top of Peru, the Ande’s begin their pass-through Peru, creating ideal coffee growing conditions.

The Jiminez’s farm is 3 hectares, situated outside the rural town of Ihuamaca. This small town has a population of just 500 people.




All of the coffees in this Peru release are red and yellow caturra.

Caturra is a natural mutation of the Bourbon variety, and was first discovered in Brazil in the early 1900’s. This varietal is a compact plant with a good yielding potential and good quality. However, this varietal has a very high susceptibility to coffee leaf rust.

This varietal is generally recognised to be crisp, complex, sweet and has a bright acidity. The characteristics of this coffee are similar to the Bourbon plant.

Caturra is one of the most popular varietals for consumers, roasters and farmers alike. Its compact plant makes it ideal for farmers like the Jiminez’s as they are able to fit a greater number of plants into each square meter of land. This also makes it easier for producers to hand pick ripe cherries.




Three of our experimental lots used commercial yeast in their fermentation. The yeast used was developed by Lallemand.

Lallemand are a global leader in the production of bacteria and yeast for many industries. We chose the Intenso yeast from their range due to it having the most desirable flavour profile from previous harvests.

This yeast’s scientific name is Saccharomyces Cerevisiae.

Yeast is used in coffee fermentation to enhance the mouthfeel, floral aromas, and tropical fruit notes. Ultimately, yeast improves the overall complexity of the cup, enabling higher SCAA scores, and thus the ultimate price that farmers can reach for their coffees.

Intenso yeast’s specific metabolism facilitates rapid demucilagination (destruction of the mucilage contained in the beans) and the release of varietal specific aromatic compounds. As a result, this yeast helps bring out the fruity and floral notes of the Caturra beans, creating a higher quality sensory experience.





Intenso Yeast + 44 Hour Dry Fermentation. Washed Process.

This lot was floated, pulped and then placed in grainpro bags. From there, Intenso yeast was added (1g p/kg) and the coffee was left to ferment for 44 hours until the PH reached 3.7. The beans where then washed and dried in solar tents for 12 days until the coffee reached 11% moisture.



Intenso Yeast + 44 Hour Wet Fermentatin. Washed Process.

This coffee was again floated and pulped but was placed into tanks where the wet parchment was submerged in water. The same proportion of yeast was added (1g p/kg) and left to ferment for 44 hours until the PH reached 3.76. Like lot 1, the coffee was then washed and dried in solar tents for 12 days until 11% moisture content.



90 Hours Lactic Double Fermentation. Washed Process.

To begin, this lot underwent a dry fermentation for 48 hours in sealed tanks. After this, 2% of the total weight was added as salt before the parchment was submerged in water for a 42 hour wet fermentation until the PH reached (??). From there, the beans were washed and dried for 12 days in solar tents until 11% moisture content was reached.



144 Hours Anaerobic. Natural Process.

In this lot, whole cherries where washed and floated before being sealed in tanks for 144 hours. The coffee cherries were then dried in solar tents for 28 days and kept in grainpro for another 30 days before pulping.



Papaya Fermented + Yeast Inoculated. Washed Process.

The coffee was floated, pulped and placed in grainpro. 10% of the total wet parchments weight was added as blended papaya while Intenso yeast was also added (1g p/kg). The coffee was then left for 44 hours of fermentation until the PH reached (??) before being washed and dried in solar tents for 12 days.



36 Hours Wet Fermentation. Washed Process.

This is the Jiminez’s traditional processing technique. The coffee is floated and pulped and then placed in open fermentation tanks for 36 hours. Like the other lots, the coffee is then washed and dried in solar tents for 12 days.





Lot 1 Yeast Inoculated Dry Fermentation. 84.5

Lot 2 Yeast Inoculated Wet Fermentation. 85.5

Lot 3 Lactic Double Fermentation 85.5

Lot 4 Natural Anaerobic 87.5

Lot 5 Papaya Fermented 83

Control Lot 82

Like every time the Zest team cups the results of one of their projects to get SCAA scores, there is a buzz of excitement. Has it paid off? Have we enabled farmers to improve the quality of their coffees? Can their coffee fetch a higher price in the market so they can continue doing what they love?

This year we are proud to say that all our experiments have resulted in an increased cupping score when compared to the control lot. However, it is fair to say that some experiments worked better than others. Most noticeably, Lot 4 Natural Anaerobic receives a great 87.5 and is the standout coffee from this origin trip.

But just as important as the improved flavour we get to experience is the impact on the Jiminez family. Gladis & Lisindro, and their son Fernando, are now able to sell these lots up to 250% more than the base price that their control sells for. Now that is a win for coffeekind that gives the team at Zest motivation to continue improving lives of smallholder farmers.

To help the Jiminez family continue to innovate, Zest has donated the family several processing tools to allow them to carry out the process at a larger scale. These gifts include fermentation tanks, Ph meters and bluetooth temperature readers.

So the answer is yes. Innovative processing truly can increase the quality of the final cup.