October 2004 - Steve Aronson
Beginning in February, Café Britt will begin roasting coffee and manufacturing chocolate in the South American city of Lima, Peru. We decided on our Peruvian venture when we won the contract to run three gift and coffee shops at the city’s Jorge Chavez International Airport.
This really interesting opportunity will give all lovers of Britt the chance to buy and enjoy some of the coffees hidden away in the high reaches of the Andes, as well as fruits and nuts not produced in tropical Costa Rica.
It will also allow us to export our gourmet brand and marketing model to a country that’s rediscovering itself after bringing the infamous “Shining Path” terrorist organization to justice in 1992.
I spent most of August in Lima and Cuzco ironing out details. Alterra Partners, the firm that manages Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaria International Airport, is also a shareholder of Lima Airport Partners (LAP), the firm that runs the International airport in Lima. Café Britt relationship with Alterra dates to 2001, when we won a bid to operate the Juan Santamaria airport shops.
The rest of the time I spent exploring coffee-buying opportunities in northern Peru and through a farmers’ cooperative near the town of Quillabamba, about a three-hour walk from the ruins of the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. Quillabamba has a special significance – my wife and I spent our honeymoon there in 1973, while I was doing a coffee survey for the Peruvian government.
The Arabica coffee I found in the region of the Valle de la Convencion is pretty remarkable, grown at 1,500 to 2,000 meters. The plants are traditional shade-grown varieties. Farmers’ distance from major commercial centers obliges them to use “best-practice” growing techniques – more natural fertilizers and materials at hand. The region’s harvest season, from June through August, complements Costa Rica’s November through January harvest, allowing us to better use our resources and provide our customers with freshly harvested coffee during more months of the year.
We’re happy. And we think you will be too, buying the coffees and chocolates of Café Britt Peru over our website. This will be one of our interesting new additions for 2005.