Why go to origin? Because it’s what we stand for: Ethically Sourced, Socially Responsible,
Roasted Coffees. We believe that the entire journey of a coffee bean, from seed to cup, is
important to understand first hand, and working directly with our coffee farmers around the
globe allows us to not only bring the best coffees to our customers back home, but it also
us the chance to do good when the opportunity arises. Two years ago, a visit to one of our
Peruvian farming co-ops presented the opportunity to help aid the community in building a
school - and that’s how The School that Coffee Built began.
The Luna team on this trip included our owners, brothers Doug and Jason Barrow, Manuela, our
marketing and e-commerce director and head of business management (yep, she wears a lot of
hats), Jeff, head of production (to put it simply, he makes sure things run smoothly day to
for all our boutique coffee roasting and fulfillment), and lastly Kaitlyn – brand manager on
Manuela’s marketing team. Doug and Jason commit to visiting origin at least once a year, and
this trip was officially the first trip to origin for the rest of the team!
Our goal for this particular trip was to pay a visit to Agua Azul, a farming cooperative
we direct source our organic Peruvian beans from, and also the community where we have
to build our 2nd school for the children of the farmers. In addition to checking on the
progress of the school, we cupped the 2019 coffee harvest that is now being processed;
and Jason selected the best lots possible for our organic Peruvian coffees (meaning the rest
the team learned a LOT on how this selection process happens at origin).
After a 9 hour flight from Denver to Lima, Peru we successfully made it
South America! Made for a very long day, but thankfully we had no travel
hiccups along the way.
Our exporter partners from Costa Rica, Arnoldo, Fernando, and Teo, met
Lima, and gave us a small tour of Lima. This city is HUGE - over 12
people live in Lima, in comparison to Denver’s 2.9 million people. We
able to visit el Parque del Amor, or Park of Love, walk the streets of
market in downtown Lima, and tour one of the oldest cathedrals in Lima,
St. Francis Monastery and catacombs - built in 1674!
After our little bit of sightseeing, our group met up with our hosts,
Peruvian coffee producers Harry and Javier (and their families) for a
Traveling with locals also means finding the BEST ceviche around; an
absolute must when in Lima. It was good to reunite and share a meal with
Peruvian friends - the coffee business is full of incredibly passionate
people, and these two are no exception.
We spent the day in Lima at the dry mills, which is the beans’ last stop
before export. We technically ventured backwards down the seed to cup
process on this trip:
Coffee Bean Journey while at Origin:
1) Farming & Harvest
2) Wet Milling
3) Dry Milling
4) Export to US for Roasting
The coffee is delivered to the Dry Mill in parchment form (meaning the
beans are no longer in the cherry fruit, and have a thin paper-like
membrane surrounding each bean) from the farm where they were wet milled
about 4-7 days earlier. It’s a 30 hour drive from the farms in the
Amazon down to Lima! Long way to travel, but the higher elevation up in
the Amazon is part of what makes the coffee taste the way that it does.
First, the coffee beans makes their way through several different
and rubbing processes to remove the outer parchment. The beans then drop
into a huge
dryer (similar to your clothes dryer at home, but much larger) that with
and slow rotation, dries the coffee to the desired water weight.
Next, the beans are graded for quality. Both a vibrating table and a
spectrometer are used to separate the good from the bad beans. There’s a
both types, but Luna only buys the highest graded organic beans.
Finally, the beans are bagged, weighed and ready to be exported to
Another really important process that happens at the dry mill is cupping
control. Jeff, Manuela and Kaitlyn got a lesson in “cupping and spitting
while Doug and Jason focused on selecting the BEST lots to buy for Luna
After the dry mill, we jumped on a quick flight to fly north to
we drove 3 more hours to Moyobamba (in the San Martin region) to visit
farms and the school project.
As you could probably imagine, there’s a ton of humidity and
when you’re in the Amazon. Today was a very muddy day. But, kind of
playing in the mud as kids, it was really fun and incredibly
Coffee farming in Peru is really rural; imagine 30-50 families
on some land far out in the Amazon jungle, and calling it home.
their crops and maintaining them organically for decades. The
of the farms throughout the Amazon are very difficult to get to.
it be a 2+ hour walk or a mule ride, or the 90 minute
expedition that required crossing rivers (literally driving through
river!) and pull ropes to get through mud bogs and over hills, the
to Agua Azul was challenging. (Thank goodness the dirt roads were
enough” to drive up the mountain though!)
As we arrived in Agua Azul, we were greeted with a decorated new
building, a small coffee plant for the school, huge applause from
village, and even a few fireworks!
Everyone was so incredibly happy and ready to celebrate the near
completion of the new elementary school that we partnered together
build. The children performed several native dances and sang their
national anthem for us, followed by an astounding feast they had
prepared for our lunch - everything they served from plantains to
to tamales and hearts of palm were grown on their farm.
This school will be the new home for 36 elementary aged children in
village. Before now, there really wasn’t an education option for
younger group of children; now there is and this is going to make a
difference in their early education and lives.
The walls are up, the roof is on, bathrooms and kitchen are almost
finished - next on the list are doors and windows and a few more
What an incredible honor to have been able to visit this community -
immense amount of gratitude that the community expressed was beyond
anything our little team could have expected. So incredibly humbling
fulfilling to know that the work we do each and every day can have
an impact on the very people’s lives that grow the coffee our
company is completely dependent on.
We spent our final day in Peru meeting with one of the farming
in our farming cooperative. Julita Chávez Tuesta and her husband
Luis Ache Jimenez have a 4 acre farm in the St. Martin region that
started over 20 years ago in an effort to be part of the growing
movement in Peru.
They started with 1 hectare (almost 2.5 acres), moved and purchased
hectares, and through agricultural financing have doubled their land
4 hectares. We had the opportunity to sit and chat for an hour about
their way of life and the farm, and Julita took center stage. This
truly a woman-managed farm, and it was impressive to hear their
and passion for high quality coffee. They have 10 children who are
and now coming back to help with the farm. Julita’s top suggestion
what is needed is more education. She firmly believes that the
poverty cycle can be broken by having more education to create
aspirations; she went on to explain that manual labor is only part
running a successful farm and knowing how things like agronomy and
modern farming techniques work are even more critical to understand
success. Their primary goal is to increase the quality of coffee on
their land, and to share their learnings with their neighboring
to increase the quality of the coffee in the region overall.
Well, for this family it’s working. As a result of the farming
intervention programs brought to this area through our partner
the crop yield from Julita’s improved farming techniques is nearly
double what the typical farm produces!
After our visit with Julita and her family, we had one final cupping
prepared for us in Moyobamba to taste four additional coffees that
just harvested from the fields. Not only did we get to cup and
our preferred beans for Luna, we were donned with our very own
embroidered aprons to make our cupping expert status official!
Though our time in Peru was fast and furious, the entire experience
such a vivid look into why we all choose to show up for work every
We produce and sell great coffee, it’s true, but there is so much
behind the mission that Luna Gourmet has placed at the core of our
company - we’ve said it once, and we’ll keep on saying it - the
act of drinking a cup of coffee can truly make a difference in the