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Rob Butterworth, owner of Butterworth and Son in Bury St Edmunds, introduces a coffee farmer on a mission to improve the lives of her community

Long-term customers of Bury St Edmunds-based Butterworths will be well-informed of the long history we have with Tunki coffee, from the Cecovasa Cooperative in Peru.

The Tunki coffee is named after a bird found in the area this coffee is grown., which is native to the Tambopata Valley.

The name is also of meaning to the indigenous peoples of this area, descendants of the Incas, the Tunkimayu.

Shyntia Veronica Castañeda of Tunkimayu farm
Shyntia Veronica Castañeda of Tunkimayu farm

Our newest coffee is from the Cusco region, once a great city of the Incas and within the same southern areas of Peru as the Tambopata Valley. The farm is called Tunkimayu.

This small family farm produces Bourbon and Typica coffee varieties, as well the much coveted coffee cultivar, Gesha.

Gesha is particularly sought after by discerning coffee drinkers for its unique floral notes and high natural sweetness. This cultivar is hard to grow and highly susceptible to disease. Its crop yield is also lower than other varieties and cultivars.

The Tambopata Valley
The Tambopata Valley

Sourced through my new green coffee company based in Oaxaca, Mexico, to help Butterworths and its customers have access to some of the best coffees in Latin America, Que Onda has brought a selection of Tunkimayu’s best coffees to the UK and Butterworths is offering the prized Gesha coffee.

To tell you more about this special farm, who better than a family farm member.

“My name is Shyntia Veronica Castañeda and at 39 years old, I am leading the production of specialty coffee at Finca Tunkimayu.

Coffee beans growing on the Tunkimayu farm
Coffee beans growing on the Tunkimayu farm

My story dates back to July 2, 1931, the year my grandmother, Elvira Madera Rodriguez, was born in the settlement of Tunkimayu, La Convencion, Cusco-Peru.

She was the daughter of coffee workers on the former Tunkimayu Estate. My grandparents met while working for the estate, they married on September 10, 1964. After marriage they acquired several hectares of land to devote themselves to coffee cultivation. Alejandro Castañeda Madera, my father, was my grandparents’ eldest son.

From a young age he loved the coffee plantations and worked tirelessly. At 60, he decided to train in the production of specialty coffees and in 2017, his dedication and effort were recognised with an award granted by the Municipal Government of Quellouno for the improvement of his specialty coffee production areas.

The Tambopata Valley
The Tambopata Valley

During my childhood and youth my day-to-day was marked by accompanying my parents in the coffee fields.

From the harvest to the complete process of transforming coffee, I was there, learning and contributing at every stage. This bond with the land, animals and plants provided me with a deep connection to nature that still resonates within me.

As an anthropologist, I immersed myself in the study of Amazonian Quechua societies and intercultural education, fascinated by our culture and its deep connection with nature. This specialisation allowed me to understand more deeply how our lives unfold in harmony with nature.

This experience not only enriched my understanding of the world around me but also reaffirmed my commitment to defending the rights of indigenous communities and promoting initiatives that improve their well-being and empowerment.

There came a time in my life when I fully assumed the direction of specialty coffee production at Finca Tunkimayu. With a clear focus on achieving our exports independently, as we previously exported through Agricultural Cooperatives, now, we are proud to be allies of Que Onda.

These partnerships have allowed us not only to expand our reach in the international market but also to raise the profile and reputation of our farm, bringing our unique and quality coffees to the world.

It is an honour and a privilege to have the trust of my grandparents and my parents, as they have entrusted me with the responsibility of leading this family business, a testament to their faith in the crucial role that women play in all aspects of coffee production. From the cultivation and care of the coffee plants to processing and exporting, women play a fundamental role that is often underestimated.

Therefore, it is essential to recognise and value the immense contribution we women make in the coffee industry.

Our goal is to harvest high-quality coffees and also contribute to the strengthening and sustainable development of our coffee community, promoting gender equality and creating opportunities for the empowerment of all women involved in this noble trade.

As a coffee producer, I can attest to the difficult reality faced by many children and young people in rural areas dedicated to coffee production, who do not have access to quality education, especially the situation of women, many of whom become teenage mothers and are forced to abandon their studies, putting their physical and mental health at risk.

Our goal is to create a sustainable initiative that allows the children of our community to access quality education and become positive change agents in their environment, by educating high school students in biodynamic agriculture in the production of specialty coffees and offering comprehensive sexual education workshops for young people.

This is the story of my family and our struggle for a fairer and more equitable future for all the inhabitants of our community.

Urpillay Sonqollay ‘Many thanks from the bottom of my heart’.”

Find this exceptional coffee on the Butterworth and Son’s webshop.

Butterworth and Son coffee roasters and tea smiths are based on Moreton Hall, Bury

Owner Rob Butterworth’s job takes him around the world visiting coffee farmers to source great coffees