Nieves Tantalean

The Tantalean Family

Nestled in the mountain tops of the Barro Negro district of San Ignacio, near the Neiras, la señora Nieves, with her husband Ezequiel and two children work tirelessly to produce some of the best coffee Cajamarca has to offer. Nieves, working with coffee nearly all her life, started as a young girl working alongside her parents building the skills and knowledge that would lead her to owning and operating her own finca.

Nieves has lived through a great deal of change within the coffee industry and embraces the direction it is heading. She feels producers are more united now than they've ever been—associations and cooperatives are more organized and the resources provided to their members result in a more knowledgeable community and higher quality coffee.

She remembers when selective harvesting was unheard of and when fermentation and drying held little importance. On one of our calls, Nieves light-heartily recalled when the family was producing quality coffee and still purchasing instant coffee from the grocery store for personal consumption. Now Nieves and family enjoy their own coffee. They're tasting the fruits of their labor—using it to understand their coffee better and improve year after year.

In Nieves mind, improvement is the only way forward. The Tantalean family continuously work on improving their processes and coffee through projects such as construction and expansion of raised-and-covered coffee drying beds as well as producing unique coffees through controlled fermentation and custom fertilizer blends. Nieves and family have fully embraced the specialty ways and loving the return they are receiving for their efforts and dedication. 

Throughout our conversations with Nieves it is also clear she loves the role women have taken within the industry. In Peru, women are now the majority of coffee producers. They are land owners, they are decision makers, they hold positions of importance within their associations and cooperatives, and they are changing coffee for the better. Nieves feels this empowers women to be greater and do greater and we whole heartily agree.

The Tantaleans are only one farming family we partner with to bring specialty coffee from Peru all the way to coffee lovers all over the US in turn. We've yet to meet Nieves and family in person due to COVID-19, but we eagerly await the day.

30% of the profits made from the Tantalean's coffee goes directly into their pockets and their community.

Shop now to see what the Tantaleans and Peru have to offer.

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The finca

Location

San Ignacio, Cajamarca, Peru

Elevation

5742 - 5906 ft. (1750 - 1800 meters)

Size

3.7 acres (1.5 hectares)

Certifications

Organic, Fairtrade

Varietals

Bourbon, Caturra, Pache, Typica

Processes

Washed

An interview with Nieves

What generation coffee farmer are you?

I am the second generation. My parents started producing coffee and still are producing coffee.

How many years have you been producing coffee?

I've been helping with the production of coffee since I was a little girl. I've been producing coffee on my own since 2008.

What is your favorite part of producing coffee?

I like harvesting. I just take the perfectly ripe cherries, a selective harvest.

What is the hardest part about growing coffee?

Well, every part of the job is tough. From selecting the best cherries to drying. For example, we are very careful to make sure that all the coffee cherries have been removed by the end of the season, even the bad ones, to prevent the coffee borer beetle. We have to deal with rain a lot which effects drying and quality. Drying was hard before, we had to move the coffee more and constantly cover and uncover it. Now we have covered raised beds which helps a lot.

What challenges do you face?

Climate at times, for example right now the coffee is flowering and the plants need rain, but it hasn’t been raining. Or during the harvest it rains and we don’t want it because it makes it much more dangerous.

 

What we're focusing on most right now is figuring out how we can build more drying beds to better manage the drying process and resulting quality of the coffee.

What challenges does your community face?

The roads. We don’t really have maintained roads. Sometimes neighbors work together to help repair or make parts of the road. The roads we do have are dirt and the dust makes us sick. And the schools maybe, but the kids are used to walking long distances to school each day.

How has climate change affected production?

Where we are located, I don’t really notice anything. We had a great year with good sun and rain. Every year it is a little different.

What plans do you have for your farm?

We are planning on building additional covered and raised drying racks. The drying process is very important for the quality of coffee and the raised beds keep the coffee clean.

Do you produce anything else on your farm?

For our own consumption we raise chickens and guinea pigs so we don’t have to purchase meat. We grow tomatoes, green onions, leeks, and guavas.

How has the whole coffee production process changed over the years from harvesting to selling?

We were on our own before, now the associations have agronomists which help us improve quality and help us through any issues. Working together with other producers helps us all feel strong and more united.

What makes you feel the most proud about being a producer of coffee?

That my family and I enjoy our own coffee. For years we produced coffee, but we purchased coffee from the store. When we drink our own coffee we feel proud and makes us want to continue improving.

 

We know when we put in more effort our coffee will come out better and we’ll get paid better. Before we sold our coffee at the local commercial markets, but now we work as specialty producers selling to clients through the association.

What would you like to say to the people drinking your coffee?

I want to tell them to keep consuming our coffee and enjoying the flavors and aromas. I want to say that our coffee is clean and we put a lot of effort into the quality. More women now than ever are producers showing we have more patience in our work, we are strong, and proud. I want to tell them that they can put trust in us to produce a coffee of high quality, organically.

30% of the profits made from the Tantalean's coffee goes directly into their pockets and their community.

Shop the Tantalean's coffee
Read more about our profit sharing program