Here in Brazil, south of the equator, it's winter and raining when it should be dry, not least on the coffee farms which are in the midst of harvesting coffee cherry.
Heavy rains also occurred earlier in the harvest season, a few weeks ago, so now it is estimated that production in all of Brazil will be 10-20% lower than expected. The consequences of rainfall is, firstly, that it is impractical or impossible to pick at all. The trucks do not deliver either people or cherry. In addition, rained on cherry that falls to the ground must be picked up in order not to attract harmful insects (read: Broca). Rain also means that weeds are springing up all around the coffee bushes which takes away nutrients from the soil. Finally, the rain and subsequent moisture lead to poor drying of coffee on the patio after processing.
Fair or not, today is a day of new farm visits and the following days will be used to visit the well-known and beloved - and eventually award-winning - coffee farms around the village of Carmo de Minas. But today we start, well, actually resume, contact with small farms in the neighboring district of Pedralva. There are many farms here with very good conditions for producing coffee of the same quality as in Carmo, but it takes some time to put new systems and new working practices into action.
Producers in Pedralva have watched the success of the farmers in Carmo, through their Cup of Excellence merits, and these successes are rubbing off! We bought a lovely batch of coffee from the Fazenda Furnas farm a few years ago, which was then a farm that had made its mark in the CoE. Furnas is now the centre for processing coffee cherry from several farms in the area and we are looking at the opportunity of working with several of these farms - many of which boast good coffee species and altitude - to provide greater diversity in our offerings and help the development of a new appellation. Classic coffee work.
But first: Tasting of what has been picked so far this season. Early in the season, the coffee tastes very fresh, but can provide a good indication of what we'll have in store ...