Throughout 2022, Catalyst Trade’s Sourcing and QC teams have been back and forth between Portland and Jaen; sneaky little hints were dropped along the way. And in November we made one of our biggest announcements of the year: we are expanding into Peru!
I’m excited to share with you the WHY behind this, our second expansion (and the last for a while!). If you want to read more about the whys and wherefores of our Kenyan expansion announced earlier in 2022, check out Sourcing Coffee in Kenya: Catalyst’s 3-Stage Origin Model and What’s Wrong with the Kenyan Coffee System?. Peruse the Kenyan coffees we have available at our Current Offerings page.
Since 2016, we’ve focused 100% on building a business model in Ethiopian specialty coffee that WORKS. Catalyst Trade was born between my partner Michael and I and Zelalem Girma Bayou, each bringing different aspects to the table. Most of you know us as entirely obsessed with and specialized in Ethiopian coffee—and we are going deeper now in Ethiopian coffee than we ever have. (Another announcement coming up soon!)
But Peru. Why Peru?
There is immense potential in Peruvian specialty coffee.
Michael and I used to work with a variety of single-origin specialty importers and the producers they supported. This led us to roasting GFA-winning Kenyas, helping get a remarkable Cameroonian project off the ground, to meeting our brother and collaborator Zele, and to supporting a variety of producers in Peru.
We always knew we would return to Peru. Timing was the only question. It was important to us to build a business that could genuinely add value to both roasters and producers before we spread our focus too wide.
For the 2022 harvest, many circumstances came together and we knew it was time to do this. Behind the scenes, Michael and I along with our team have been digging back in, revisiting past partnerships and forging new ones, and happily spending lots of meaningful time in Peru.
It’s one of my favorite places in the entire world. And one of my favorite coffee origins. I know I’m not the only one.
OUR FIRST PERUVIAN COFFEES LANDED IN LATE NOVEMBER 2022! WANT TO LEARN MORE? CONTACT US.
What this means for you
We love Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee, and we know you do, too. We also know that you have a dynamic lineup to source and you are balancing numerous variables including price, profile, arrival times, and more. When we made the choice to bring Peru coffees to you, we hoped to offer a whole laundry list of benefits to our customers.
Peru is a complementary origin to Ethiopia and Kenya in a number of ways. Flavor profile-wise, the sweet chocolate, rich stone fruit, and buttery body of Peru blend beautifully with more acidic coffees including East Africans. Single origins from Peru display a remarkable range which most of us have yet to really grasp on the cupping table, but always a drinkability and balance that stands out.
Another way Peru coffees complement East Africans is in their delivery times. As we know the arrival cycle of Ethiopias and Kenyas begins around April/May and extends through November, with the bulk landing in the June/July/August window. In contrast, Perus begin to land in November and continue through February/March. Obviously this gives the potential to cycle through SOs from these two geographic locations while having plenty of crossover for blending.
What does this mean for us (Catalyst)?
At a fundamental level, with the expansion into Peru, we now have more coffees overall, more spot offerings, and more certified offerings. We are bringing in beautiful coffees which have both classic and unique profiles, and our ambition is to offer our customers entirely new profiles they hadn’t expected from Peru just as we’re doing in Kenya and have been doing in Ethiopia for years now.
New Customer Financing Access & Custom Sourcing Peruvian Blenders
Beyond this, I’m excited about our expansion into Peru because we are now able to custom-source large lots of blender coffees for our customers! Catalyst has always focused on traceability and quality, and our first true blender offering will maintain those elements.
Importantly, the addition of these new coffees brings new financing options which make it possible for roasters to buy full containers from us even if they don’t have experience with FOB, or if their cash flow doesn’t support it at the moment. The turnarounds are quicker, and the increased volumes make coffee a more viable business for our producer partners.
Stay tuned for more information on this groundbreaking development which launches at the beginning of 2023.
What are the Challenges here?
Like their Ethiopian counterparts, Peruvian smallholder producers continue to face challenges with mostly organic farming practices when it comes to yields, plant disease and more. Barriers to accessing cash outside of relationships with huge players cause small farmers the world over long-term financial distress.
As razor-thin margins on the supply side grow even tighter, a sourcing strategy that cherry picks only the top lots of Peru does little for the country’s long term success as a quality coffee origin. If we want to see Peru gain the potential we know it’s capable of on a large scale, we as an industry need to better support quality-focused producers by buying more of their coffee and not just excellent lots of the rarified strata. This continues to be our modus operandi, and we are proud to carry it forth in a new origin, with your support!
— Emily McIntyre, CEO