A Good Cup of Coffee, Iquitos Peru

by Captain Bill

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.

A good cup of coffee, Iquitos PeruThe 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.”

A Good Cup of Coffee, Iquitos Peru

Bill Grimes, Welcome to Iquitos Peru, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Richard June 10, 2007 at 8:03 pm

OK, I’m in Iquitos deeply desiring a good cuppa joe. Can you divulge the address?

2 Bill June 10, 2007 at 9:17 pm

Hi Richard,

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine that runs a restaurant, and I were talking about this coffee. My friend went to the old man, checked the coffee and offered to buy most of what he could roast and grind, to serve at his restaurant. The owner of the restaurant asked the old coffee man not to grind it so fine. The old gentleman grocer told my friend he had been grinding coffee this size for 50 + years, and did not have plans to change this late in life. Fortunately for me and Dawn on the Amazon, he got just mad enough to leave without any coffee.

I can see it would be better not to post the address on the internet, as there is a finite supply, but how about stopping by my office some morning, at #185 Maldonado, on the boulevard, facing the river, right around the corner from the first block of Nauta. We can drink a cup of coffee together, and entertain each other with some stories.

Best,
Bill

3 Larry Everette June 11, 2007 at 3:11 pm

I have a home in Iquitos and do not drink much coffee. However I do entertain friends from time to time, and the love coffee. It would be great if I could give them a really good
cup of coffee in the morning. Thanks for your reply and address and name. I will be in Iquitos in July. Would like to meet and try some of this coffee. Thanks, Larry from America.

4 Bill June 11, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Hi Larry,

Stop by my office when you come back to Iquitos, #185 Maldonado, ask for Bill. I look forward to meeting you in person. You have a very nice home. I was in it several times before you bought it from Harry and Corina. We will share a cup of coffee in July. See you then.

Best,
Bill

5 Dave Bonnett June 14, 2007 at 9:40 pm

I’ll verify that it’s great coffee! When we went to the store we tried to buy roasted beans but could only get unroasted beans or ground coffee. We enjoyed it at home but it was soon gone. The best way to drink it is on the Dawn on the Amazon as Bill always gets up early to put the coffee on.

Dottie

6 Dave Bonnett June 16, 2007 at 9:38 pm

I would add that the best cup of coffee to be found anywhere on the Amazon is on Dawn III just before “dawn” on a remote tributary or oxbow lake. My wife Dottie is a typical Seattle area coffee snob, fresh roasted beans (Starbucks of course), grounded at a preset time every morning and automatically brewed just as she enters the kitchen. I myself don’t like the Starbucks taste, prefering good old US Navy deck plate brew. Somehow the Dawn III offering was relished by both of us, a rare area of agreement.
Dave

7 Dale Baskin June 17, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Bill, next time I am in Iquitos you can be sure I will stop by for a cup of coffee!

8 gaggia May 14, 2008 at 10:29 am

Ohhhh this is the first time i see blog related to Iquitos coffee. I have been many times in Iquitos and coffee is hardly drunk by natural people, i think it is because of hotness.. weather is too hot! so coffee makes you hotter!!

But I am sure Iquitos like Colombia both have very good coffee.

Thanks!

9 free range chicken June 23, 2008 at 12:54 am

Ohh. I find this article very interesting!. My mother was born is Iquitos and as you should guess i know also this beautiful and amazing place.
In fact, you are right when you say that peruvians are not keen on coffee and when it is drunked it is more common instantly coffee. However, peruvian coffee industry is one of the most natural, high quality and good taste in all the world.

It would be a great experience if you drink a cup of coffee in front of Amazon river, i wish i could my dream come true, maybe next travel i do it.

Thanks for comment.

10 Richard June 27, 2008 at 7:24 pm

Well, I finally tracked down and bought a 1/4 kilo of fresh coffee. Yummy! Thank you Bill as I would have never found it, and since I’m in Iquitos for several months this time, good coffee is way appreciated.

11 Bill June 27, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Hi Richard, I am glad you found it and thank you for the comment. You can see we are dealing with quality, not quantity. See you around Iquitos. Enjoy the coffee.

Bill Grimes

12 mike June 28, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Bill,

As you described the coffee, I was wondering if you could elaborate on how much oil is in the coffee. One of the things I like in coffee is one that is silky and has a nice velvety feel. I like that you describe the coffee as strong but not bitter…one of the mass brands that I like is illy. and one of the things I like about it is the strength, but smoothness, and the thick velvety mouth feel. How do you think they comepare?

Mike

13 Kasha November 18, 2008 at 5:30 am

Thank you for this post!

14 Marc Brouwer January 7, 2009 at 10:52 am

Hi Bill,

I’m in Iquitos the 9th of Feb. Can i stop by as well? As a dutchman i have to have at least one good cup!
Love to chat at that time as well, and if you want i’ll bring the beans along!!

Greetings Marc!

15 Bill January 10, 2009 at 6:15 am

Hi Marc, Please stop in when you arrive in Iquitos. I look forward to meeting you in person and visiting over a cup of coffee.

Best, Bill Grimes

16 Marc January 10, 2009 at 10:40 am

Hi Bill,

Will bring the coffee along when i come to Iquito. And mabye, when possible, Dutch cookies!

See ya somewhere arond the 9th of Feb.

Greetings Marc

17 vinnie July 7, 2009 at 1:37 am

Any chinese tea in Iquitos?

18 Captain Bill July 7, 2009 at 5:20 am

Hi Vinnie, Yes we have a strong Chinese community here with a good variety of Chinese food and products including tea.

Bill Grimes

19 andrea October 13, 2010 at 9:58 am

Hi Bill,

This is a great post. I´m a coffee addicted, i love the stuff and am in peru now but it´s hard to find authentic beans anywhere!
i´m heading to iquitos with my mom in a few days and would love to get my hands on some of the wonderful beans people have been raving about. anyway you could help guide me along?
thanks
andrea!

20 Jim Grimes May 20, 2014 at 6:56 am

Where do you get the beans for the espresso machine?

21 Captain Bill May 20, 2014 at 11:07 am

Hi Jim,

Sorry, I can not divulge the exact source of our coffee beans or everyone would buy our supply. All I am at liberty to tell you is, they are shade grown, fair trade, in Peru.

Best regards,
Bill

22 Jim Grimes May 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm

It’s a secret. Coffee rust is devastating the Central American specialty coffee growers.

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