In a cute little old town and chill weather at Ollantaytambo, a village in the sacred valley of south Peru, we found a hidden gem called Café Mayu. It is located inside El-Albergue hotel nearby the train station of Peru Rail that will bring people to Machu Piccu. Fiorella, my Peruvian friend who brings me to Peru found this place for me since she knows how nerdy I am when it comes to coffee.
Café Mayu, a micro coffee roaster runs by a master roaster, Frank. Frank greets us in front of the hotel lobby and guides us inside the hotel and surprise! It was a huge farm behind this hotel with a scenic view of the mountain nearby. I will never thought this small hotel and coffee shop has a huge farm inside.
Frank runs this organic farm for almost 7 years now and it consist of local vegetables (brussel sprouts, beans, arugula, lettuces, chili, basil, and other), fruits, animals (pigs, cows), but no coffee. This farm was too high to grow coffee, he tried to grow coffee plant in a corner of his place but nothing comes up from that small tree, he decided to put it in a pot and just display it in the corner of his office.
This place also creates nature or Eco School for primary or elementary school students and is open for everyone in the village. The school located in the middle of the farm and the kids will learn about organic farming, growing animals, how to practice an environmentally friendly lifestyle in their daily life, and also learning about the regular knowledge like a formal school such as English & Quechua language. They currently have 25 students in the school.
Frank walks us to his office, which is a two-stairs wooden building that he uses to save green beans. He mentions that currently he has 1,200 kg beans upstairs. He use the downstairs to process the coffee from hand-picked the green bean, roast the coffee with his customize roasting machine, package the roasted beans, and sell it to the market. He has one staff that handpicked the green bean when we were there. Interestingly, he also has a microbrewery factory nearby the coffee roaster and is able to brew beers. So yes, he drink both beer and coffee.
The farmers harvest the coffee together so they do not process it through single farming but they are working together on the one farm. The coffee in Peru grows in a very high altitude and can reach more than 2,000 above sea level. The types of the coffee bean are mostly Caturra, Typica & Bourbon. The harvest season for coffee farm in Peru is from May – July. Frank mention that he always has a good relationship with the farmers and Café Mayu only buy premium and fair-trade Cusco coffee, purchased directly through the farmers.
Frank customizes the coffee roaster machine from a German friend who starts roasting coffee in Peru. The machine connected directly with the software so he can control the same standard quality of roasting. He roast the coffee almost everyday and process it directly at this place, sell it through Café Mayu coffee shop and distribute the beans around Ollantaytambo and Cusco.
“Do you have time to taste our coffee before your train to Machu Picchu?” Ask Frank, and of course we say yes. He then prepares the Santa Maria coffee for us with Syphon method. My friend quite impresses with how he makes the coffee and there are 5 of us in his lab at that morning so he prepares 5 cups for us. “If you like this one, I can bag the beans for you.” Said Frank in the end.
We sip the coffee carefully and Frank asks how does it taste? We try to feel it and tell Frank how is it. We feel the nutty, caramel, molasses, and sweet. Even Frank feels the chicken soup taste after seconds you put it in your mouth. Everyone thinks he definitely make a joke about that.
If you are interested to visit Frank coffee roaster and the organic farm, you can visit him at Café Mayu Ollantaytambo before or after your train trip to Machu Picchu. The address is at Estación de Tren s/n, Av Ferrocarril, Ollantaytambo, Peru. You can also check their website at http://www.elalbergue.com/restaurant/cafe.html