Do you like coffee? Do you pay attention to the balance of flavor? Then Cusco has something new for you, the Museo del Cafe or Museum of Coffee on Espaderos Street 136. Even if you do not the new Coffee Museum is for you with its attractive and informative dioramas and its beautiful space.
Although it already receives visitors The museum is scheduled for a formal opening on Monday, August 24th.
Not only is this a museum, it also is dedicated to serving guests coffees that thrill in a comfortable and well-decorated space.
Franz Trelles Polo y la Borda, the owner of the Museum comes from a family with much history in the coffee business in Cusco’s La Convención Province, one of the important coffee regions in Peru.
Trelles, his eyes glowing with a mission. describes the purpose of the museum as showing people the culture and history behind a cup of coffee, whether from a pod or prepared by a master bariista.
But it is more. His eyes clouding, Trelles says you can be in New York or Paris and enjoy some of the world’s best coffee. Yet, less than a penny from what you pay makes its way back to producers; Many of them live in poverty.
Unlike many coffee producing regions, La Convención is a place of small family farms. The farmers labor to obtain a very modest living.
Trelles complains that governments do works, such as bridges or new schools with cement floors, but never notice that the children arrive and leave barefoot, often having had too little to eat. Their family’s economic situation is far more important than a new bridge or school. Changing it enables the kids to pay attention in class and learn.
Trelles’ hand stretches out to draw attention to evocative figures picking coffee, drying it on a back plastic cloth on the ground amidst pacay leaves, or the mestizo middle man on whom the depend in lean times yet who pays reduced prices.
Coffee in La Convención has its own human culture, ways of working the land and caring for the trees, as well as ways in which the coffee moves to market. These are determined by the particular history of the region and by the values and background its people have brought to the task. Their coffee is rich in aroma, flavor, and culture.
That is not all. Trelles’ and his knowledgeable staff of guides point to the many well crafted infograms that carefully narrate the history of coffee and its social importance throughout the world, while locating Peru in that space. Trelles hired professional museologists to craft an appropriate and professional set of displays.
You can see his eyes gleam as he points out the first, hand cranked machine for pulping the beans, a machine for clearing the beans of the membrane covering them, one for sorting them by density, and another by size, all with historical value. They are machines from his family showing their very long history producing coffee in the region.
Trelles wants you to know how important factors such as humidity, density, and size, as well as the roast, are. Coffee is varied and, as a result, so must its roasting vary to produce the best flavor.
Trelles loves a story about Islamic doctors in the ancient world trying all kinds of plants to learn their medicinal value. They tried raw coffee beans and spat them out. Some landed by their fire and blackened while letting lose an incomparable smell. The doctors lifted the now roasted beans and tried them, astounded at their flavor and how they helped them to stay awake.
After passing through the museum on the second floor of a very old colonial mansion in the heart of Cusco on a street that connects its two main Plazas, you end up in a well appointed cafe where baristas offer you a range of coffee drinks and convince you of the quality of fine Cusco coffee.
You are welcome to sit and enjoy, whether on the two small balconies of in one of the very comfortable sofas or chairs, whether you have visited the museum or not. The Coffee Museum offers Wi-Fi for the convenience of its guests.
Trelles is a man whose eyes brim with plans and dreams. He is a man with purpose. He hopes to convince people of the value of quality coffee, of fair trade, and organic coffees from Cusco.
He says that a blind test with skilled judges that pits one of Peru’s or the world’s finest coffees against the finest from a number of small producers in Cusco will show how superior the coffee of Cusco can be.
He hopes to encourage regional, provincial, and district governments to invest in coffee cultivation, marketing and exporting.
The museum will have seminars to train the staff of local hotels and restaurants in coffee and the preparation of coffee beverages as well as seminars on aspects of coffee to which tourists and the general public are also invited.
He and his partners have developed the Museum at a time when more and more people are turning to instant coffee. This is also a time when the quantity of production in La Convencion and Lares is plummeting due to the roya fungus that is destroying the traditional trees. Both of these problems require immediate attention and Trelles is working to solve them
Profits from the Museum will contribute to the economic benefit of the myriad of small farmers in Cusco’s coffee growing regions and will aid in finding the right combination of varieties of coffee trees to both fight roya and produce a flavorful and fine coffee to compete with the world’s best. The Museum and its amazing coffees will convince you of the value and ease of making up a fragrant and flavorful cup of coffee from Cusco’s beans.
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