‘Best Coffee in Peru’. This is the sound of Alex Hauman the proud owner of Coffee Tree Cafeteria Ollantaytambo, as he carefully prepares my cappuccino. The views alone from this coffee shop are enough to transport you to a blissful state. As I slowly sip the cappuccino which Alex has especially prepared, I am transported beyond reality. Heaven in a cup! Recently a visiting traveller asked me this question ‘is it really the best coffee in Peru?’ I explain that this is the general consensus of reviews on Trip Advisor and that I am equally impressed. Later my travelling amigo returned to inform me ‘yes it certainly is the best coffee in Peru!’
So I asked my friend Alex to explain to me how one Peruvian can change the coffee tasting experience of an entire nation and its visitors. As Alex tells his story it becomes evident that this is a tale of passion. A qualified chef and bar tender, Alex very quickly extended his skills not only gaining much experience working in various bars and restaurants but by experimenting with different flavours, creating new dishes, sweets and drinks. It was not all plain sailing at first. Alex managed to turn a slight misfortune into a very successful opportunity. He entered a partnership which within a few years led to his ownership of the Coffee Tree.
Music adds to the dynamic atmosphere in the café as Alex greets all his customers as though they are his long lost friends. There is no point in asking a man from Calca why he would choose this town above all others in which to create a business. It’s simple, just look out the window! Inca architecture is evident in every corner of this small town. The Forteleza is akin to the splendour of Machu Picchu. In addition, Ollantay (as the locals call it) is home to descendants of the Incas who continue to live in the old traditions, speaking the Quechua language of their ancestors, dressed in their colourful Andean costumes which they wear with pride.
‘What makes your coffee so special?’ I ask. ‘Firstly,’ Alex explains, ‘I am a professional bar tender with much experience.’ Next he points to his coffee machine. ‘This is the mother of all coffee machines!’ he explains, ‘it’s a collector’s item, there are not many of these around.’ I check the label, it says ‘Gagía’. I witnessed one customer who actually took two steps backwards when he saw this coffee machine behind the bar, followed by an exclamation of delight. ‘The third reason,’ Alex continues, ‘is the brand of coffee.’ He shows me the bag and explains that these coffee beans come from the Jungle of Quillabamba a few hour’s drive from here.
‘So Alex, what is your favourite part of this business of Coffee Tree?’ ‘Eating chocolate brownies con helado!’ Alex replies jokingly. ‘I like using the coffee machine, cooking in the kitchen and meeting new people,’ he replies more seriously. Outside of Coffee Tree, Alex likes to travel but his traveling carries the curiosity of discovering what the coffee is like in other parts. His passion for coffee consumes him.
Alex describes his vision for the future of Coffee Tree. He would like to develop a bar, café and restaurant experience and in addition to provide hostel accommodation. ‘If you lived to be 80 years of age, what would you like to have achieved by then?’ Alex nearly falls of the chair in laughter when I ask this question, a good reason for asking as the element of surprise usually provokes an extra display of character. The young man in his early 2o’s muses and replies, ‘I would like to think that I have lived a happy life and achieved all my goals and to have a good home.’ I can see that he is already carving the path to this end. I finish my coffee and thank my friend for this wonderful exchange of coffee and chat. You may be wondering, what is the name of that brand of coffee that is behind the success of Coffee Tree. I think its best that you pay a visit to The Coffee Tree to find out for yourself and don’t forget to leave a review on Trip Adviser after you go!
The Coffee Tree is located in The Plaza de Armas in Ollantaytambo, known to tourists as a ‘Living Inca Musuem’. It is situated in the heart of the Sacred Valley in the Cuzco region of Peru. For further details check out www.perucoffeetree.com or visit on Facebook Coffee Tree Ollantaytambo.
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