Peruvian Organic Shade Grown Coffee - A Cultivation Tradition Tracing Back to the Incas

By Timothy S. Collins

For most people, when you think of Peru, the ruins of Machu Picchu come to mind almost immediately. What may not be an automatic thought is the relationship between the organic agricultural practices of the Incas and today's successful Peruvian Organic Shade Grown Coffee plantations. To understand how the two "come together," it is helpful to look at history.

Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, the famous American explorer. Mr. Bingham realized through his observation and explorations of the Inca ruins, how much the Incas understood about agricultural practices. The Incas approached the art of agriculture with a precise and thoughtful methodology that defined exactly how to cultivate the soil, how to drain the lands properly, what methods of irrigation to use for different altitudes and soil elevations, and the conservation requirements to preserve the terraces constructed.

The landscape throughout Peru is terraced. This is not natural but man-made.

  • The Incas put in place artificial terraces everywhere.
  • They did this on Andean slopes at will and they also reclaimed vast amounts of land from valleys.
  • The Incas went to an extreme in rebuilding and changing the geography of Peru.
  • Inch by inch, literally, they terraced huge portions of the Peruvian territory and even changed the course of rivers to meet irrigation needs.
  • As needed, the Incas filled in the land behind strong walls adding layers of fertile soil, two to three feet deep.
  • The Incas benefited from geographical and soil conditions that prevented terrace erosion.
  • This greatly facilitated how they irrigated the terraced lands.
  • For example, they placed large stones with deep grooves lengthwise that essentially channeled water as spouts onto the terrace walls without excessive water splashes that cause erosion.
  • It is a recognized fact by expert botanists that the Incas cultivated more kinds of foods and medicinal plants than any other culture in the world.

The Incas fertilized their lands using organic fertilizers only, primarily "guano" from the bird islands off the coast of Peru.

  • The Incas protected, under the threat of death, the thousands of fish-eating birds inhabiting the islands and did not allow anyone to visit the islands during the breeding season.
  • It is truly a shame that some of these Inca wise practices were abandoned resulting in disruptions in the availability of "guano" from seabirds, seals and bats.
  • At present, the population of "guano" producing wildlife and their habitats are at risk with possible grave implications for agriculture and the environment.

Fortunately, the tradition of organic cultivation is at the heart of Peruvian Organic Shade Grown Coffee today.

  • Peru is the second largest producer of organic coffee in the world.
  • This is a category Peru has earned through very hard work and focus, to a great extent, on organic agricultural practices from their Inca ancestors.
  • Qualifying for Organic Coffee Certification requires a verified sustainable agriculture system that produces coffee in harmony with nature, supports biodiversity and enhances soil health.
  • Peru's organic coffee trade accomplishes these requirements.
  • Organic coffee beans are produced without the use of pesticides or herbicides.
  • This practice is beneficial for producers and consumers alike.
  • Organic coffee production emphasizes recycling and composting.
  • Organic coffee cultivation also turns out to be cost effective and socially responsible. When the supply of "guano" is available, coffee farmers enrich the soil with this rich natural fertilizer.
  • Other organic soil fertilizers used include compost, green manure and other organic amendments. Weeds and pests are controlled through crop rotation.
  • Organic coffee farmers also use natural, non-chemical pesticides and beneficial insects.
  • Organic coffee is shade grown which means less deforestation, a very good thing for people and for wildlife dependent upon this habitat.
  • The yield from organic coffee farms is lower than non-organic coffee but the quality is superior.
  • As a result, coffee farmers get a higher price for their product which ultimately increases their income.

Ready for a cup of Peruvian Shade Grown Organic coffee? Great choice. This coffee has a rich aroma, bright acidity, milder semi-sweet flavor and medium body. Enjoy!

Timothy S. Collins
Article by Timothy S. Collins
Timothy ("Tim") S. Collins, the author, is called by those who know him "The Gourmet Coffee Guy." He is an expert in article writing who has done extensive research online and offline in his area of expertise, coffee marketing, as well as in other areas of personal and professional interest. Come visit the author's website:

© Copyright - Timothy S. Collins. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Consider a Donation

Donation Amount
Payment Method

Social Media

  • Fair Trade Community on Facebook
  • Fair Trade Community on Flickr
  • Fair Trade Community on Twitter
  • Fair Trade Community on YouTube