A Good Cup of Coffee, Iquitos Peru
I am drinking a good cup of coffee, watching the sun rise over my boats anchored 100 yards from my window. Most people think they can’t get a good cup of coffee in Iquitos Peru. Every morning I prove that is not true.
Coffee is not a big part of the culture of Peru. It is more a source of income than a beverage to be enjoyed. We export 95 % of our coffee, including most of the organic, shade grown, high altitude specialty coffees that bring premium prices on the international market.
Most Peruvians do not drink coffee, and when they do it is usually instant. The only coffee culture I am aware of in Iquitos is at wakes before a funeral. Usually corn meal is added to ground coffee. Big pots of this mixture are boiled at 9 p.m., midnight, and another at 3 or 4 in the morning. It is called poor man’s coffee.
I used to bring half a suitcase of French roast and filters when I came to Iquitos. When that ran out I prowled the huge market place to find and sample the small shops selling fresh ground coffee. Some of that coffee was good, but not roasted.
We moved 18 blocks from the main market and tourist center for a year. A couple of blocks from my home was a “grocery store” owned by a couple in their 80’s. You have probably never seen a grocery store with fewer supplies to sell.
I noticed a faded wooden sign I could barely read that must have been 50 years old. It said, Se Vende Café Molido, or Ground Coffee for Sale.
I asked for a quarter kilo. The old man opened a tin box as old as the sign, and a wonderful aroma was released into the room. The coffee was roasted a dark chocolate brown.
Even though it was afternoon and I only drink coffee in the morning, I hurriedly stumbled home with the bag pressed to my nose, brewed a pot of coffee, and have not wished for French Roast since that day.
The old gentleman grocer buys green beans from a special coffee grower in the hills above Tarapoto. He roasts the beans himself in the back yard and grinds a small batch every couple of days.
This is a good cup of coffee, strong but not bitter, full bodied, with a delicate cocoa-laced sweetness. Like finding a diamond in the coal bin, a Peruvian jewel.
Join us on a gourmet Peruvian cuisine cruise through the rainforest. Unless the old grocer couple passes on to coffee heaven, we will drink some of the best coffee in the world, brewed just before sunrise. Don’t forget, we are called Dawn on the Amazon.
I am sure you will agree, “This is a good cup of coffee, from Iquitos Peru.”