It’s interesting how we, as seemingly infallible humans, judge, form opinions and then solidify them as truth as if this is what we were meant to do. It Kind of […]

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It’s interesting how we, as seemingly infallible humans, judge, form opinions and then solidify them as truth as if this is what we were meant to do. It Kind of makes you wonder how much free will we really have.
What I’m trying to say is…
Brazil was close to the bottom of my list for coffee producing countries. But not anymore.
It’s difficult to fully understand something unless you’ve physically experienced it. Mercanta– our green coffee suppliers organized an enlightening journey for some of there global clients, where I got the opportunity to meet producers we’ve been buying from for many years as well as some new producers.
This is a brief account of my exploration of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s largest coffee producing State.

Fazenda Inglatera

Fazenda Inglatera

Fazenda Inglatera

Varietal: Bourbon, Canario and Others.
Processing: Natural and Pulped Natural.
Altitude: 950- 1,300 masl.
Owner: Stephen L Hurst.
Town: Pocos De Caldas.
Region: Sul De Minas.
Size of Farm: 65 hectares.
Area under coffee: 8 hectares.

Fazenda Inglaterra( translates to England) is owned by Stephen Hurst- the founder of Mercanta. The farm had been abandoned by the previous owners and Stephen had to replant from scratch There is a forest area close to his main lot which he plans to experiment in by planting new varieties. A diverse ecology and ample shade cover should add another dimension to this already interesting coffee, which we hope to buy next year, so stay tuned for that.

Fazenda Cachoeira Da Grama

Fazenda Cachoeira Da Grama

Fazenda Cachoeira Da Grama

Varietal: Canario & Bourbon.
Processing: Natural & Pulped Natural.
Altitude: 1100- 1500 masl.
Owner: Carvalho Family.
Town: Sao Sebastiao da Grama( Sao Paolo)
Region: Alta Mogiana.
Size of Farm: 417 hectares.
Area under coffee: 165 hectare.

This is one of the pioneering farms in Brazil, particularly with regards to experimentation with various yeast strains in processing. They are currently experimenting with around 30 different yeast strains and its effects in processing on different varieties. I’m really keen to get hold of these experiments. Never fear folks. We buy from Fazenda Cachoeira Da Grama often.

Fazenda Piedade - Brazil

Fazenda Piedade

Fazenda Piedade

Varietal: Mundo Novo, Acaia, Catucai, Acaua Novo & Arara.
Processing: Pulped Natural.
Altitude: 900- 1200 masl.
Owner: Olga Maria Ferreira Tavares and Family.
Town. Campestre.
Region. Sul De Minas.
Size of Farm. 634 hectares.
Area under coffee. 272 Hectares.

Helio Godoy Tavares, a civil engineer had his path change from a busy city life to more of a pastoral existence when he inherited his grandfathers farm. He fell in love with the green hills of Sul de Minas and decided then to leave behind his old life and dedicate himself completely to coffee production. Inspired by their fathers passion, all three of Helio’s children.( one son and two daughters) decided to study agronomy. Helio sadly passed in 1999 and ownership of the farm went to his widow. Olga’s kids devotedly help her with the management in honour of their father.

Fazenda Passeio - Brazil

Fazenda Passeio

Fazenda Passeio

Varietal: Topazio, Bourbon, Rubi, Icatu, Catuai & others.
Processing. Pulped Natural and Natural.
Altitude. 1100- 1200 masl.
Owner. Adolfo Henrique Viera Ferreira.
Town. Alfenas.
Region. Sul de Minas.
Size of Farm. 130 hectares.
Area under coffee. 130 hectares.

Adolfo has been president of the BSCA( Brazil Specialty Coffee Association) for a number of years now- who are mainly involved in the promotion of Brazilian specialty coffee. He is currently running trials on an experimental lot with 40 new varieties, some of which I managed to taste while there- He also has an experimental lot where he’s introduced a particular strain of mycorhizzal fungi into the soil. Mycorhizzal fungi are known to have a symbiotic relationship with plants by optimizing nutrient uptake. This is the first farm I’ve heard of who is experimenting with this. Very exciting indeed!

Fazenda Mariana

Fazenda Mariana

Fazenda Mariana

Varietal: Catuai, Mundo Novo, Bourbon & Tupi.
Processing: Natural & Pulped Natural.
Altitude: 980 Masl.
Owner: Manoel Barbosa Juqueira.
Town: Pocos de Caldas ( Sao Domingos Mountain)
Region: Sul De Minas.
Size of Farm: 80 Hectares
Area under coffee: 60 Hectares.

Mariana has grown to be one of the most respected farms in the Sul De Minas region. They use only the most modern, ecologically sound and socially correct practices and the utmost special care is taken to ensure harmony between man and nature. The environment is always given precedence, no exceptions.
Manoel and his team are some of the most hospitable and respectful people I’ve met. And that certainly carries through into their farm.

Ecoagricola Serra Do Cabral - Brazil

Ecoagricola Serra Do Cabral

Ecoagricola Serra Do Cabral

Varietal: Red Catuai 144 & Yellow Catucai.
Processing: Pulped Natural and Natural.
Altitude: 1100 masl.
Owner: Marcelo and Roberto Flanzer.
Town: Francisco Dumont, Serra Do Cabral.
Region: Chapada de Minas.
Size of Farm: 1500 hectares.
Area under coffee: 342 hectares.

These brothers are true pioneers. And they also completely changed my perspective on Brazilian Coffee.
The farm has mechanical harvesters in play as well as a sophisticated irrigation system. Aerial views of the farm provide imagery akin to crop circles and Evapotranspiration technology is rife throughout the farm- measuring how much water the plants take up and controls irrigation accordingly. They have also collaborated with a local university for the development of a pheromone extract that acts as an attractant for Coffee Berry Borer( a common pest in the coffee industry). This allows them to use minimal if any chemical applications.These are the healthiest coffee trees I’ve seen in my life, it was truly beautiful to behold. The Serra do Cabral is part of the Cerrado biome, with its own particular characteristics, micro-climate and a unique terroir. They are the only farmers currently producing in this somewhat untouched region. You can expect two lots of coffee available to purchase early next year, one of which received a Cup of Excellence award!

Fazenda Samambaia - Brazil

Samambaia – Henrique showing us the Topazio variety

Fazenda Samambaia

Varietal: Catucai, Mundo Novo, Bourbon, Topazio and others.
Processing: Pulped Natural and Natural.
Altitude: 1200 masl.
Owner: Henrique Dias Cambraia
Town: Santo Antonio do Amparo.
Region: Sul De Minas.
Size of Farm: 1025 hectares.
Area under coffee: 617 hectares.

Henrique Dias Cambraia….what a legend. Samambaia has won many awards for its coffee, including the Cup of Excellence. We spent one whole day with Henrique driving around Samambaia, stopping at particular points so that he could let us get up-close and personal with some of his trees. He explained weaknesses and strengths of all the varieties they grow. A very educational part of the trip, for sure. One of the successes of the farm can be attributed to individualized phytosanitary(measures to protect the plants from pests and diseases) controls of the planting fields.

 

Conlcusion

In the years to come- we can expect sweeter, more aromatic and more complex coffees coming out of Brazil. It’s exciting folks.
And you can bet your beans we’ll be getting in on some of that action!
Until next time.

I’m the Head Roaster at Origin. I joined the company in 2008. My primary focus is on developing roast profiles for the diverse array of great coffees that we purchase throughout the year. I am interested in understanding what makes coffee special, such as processing, varietals and anything else pertaining to geographical distinction.

In my spare time, I focus on something a little different. I am an aspiring mycologist and nutrition enthusiast focusing on gourmet and medicinal mushrooms and the human microbiome. I also dabble in fermentation from time to time.