The Day I Spent Making Coffee in Peru

Peru is a land of contrasts, it hosts snow capped mountains and lush valleys, dry desert plains that haven’t seen rain in thousands of years and a beautiful ocean coastline. It is the country where I was born and a country that I left with my family when I was a small boy. The north end of the country is a wild frontier where expansive jungle terrain gives way to vast, mountainous forests. It is an area where cocaine grows wildly and the Peruvian army constantly wages battle against armed drug cartels.

My cousin’s husband is a soldier in the Peruvian army and he was stationed in the north to fight the cartels. In one altercation, the helicopter he was in came under fire when they were about 15 feet off the ground. One soldier was hit in the arm. The sound of bullets piercing the hull added to the sense of urgency. Unable to properly repel from the helicopter, the soldiers jumped, my cousin’s husband managed to roll but broke his shoulder. The drug runners fled into the jungle and that was the end of it.

My cousin’s husband stayed in the northern base camp for a few days before being shipped back to Lima for injury leave. In that time he went around the camp and picked several sacks full of wild coffee beans. He dried them in the sun and brought them back to Lima. When I went down to Peru for work, I had a few days free in Lima. We spent one of those days making coffee. If my mining career doesn’t pan out, I may have an alternative career in the making.

Step 1: Coarse grinding – This was done to remove the husks from the beans and both were collected in a pan (note how it’s daylight when we start the process).

Step 2: Gravity Separation – We dropped everything in front of a fan. The light husks were blown away and the heavier beans fell into the pan. This process was repeated several times to get rid of all the husks.

Step 3: Roasting – we cooked the beans in a big pot. The whole house smelled of coffee.

Step 4: Fine grinding (the sun has gone down) –making the actual coffee grounds.

Step 5: Enjoying a fresh cup of coffee at around 9 pm. No sleep tonight!

I made an awful lot of coffee. If you’re interested in some (it’s a very, very dark roast) and live in the Toronto area (I’m in the west end) feel free to send me a message at davidburga@me.com.

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