Brazil

Brazil - leading the fourth wave?

We have written many blog posts this season about our friends and partners, Carmo Coffees, in Brazil. With each and every post, my desire to visit Carmo de Minas grew. When they announced that the World Brewers Cup would be held in Brazil, my heart leapt. It meant I could also visit Santuario Sul. Cupping the first releases from this farm earlier this year, my reaction was like most others at the table: “hey, are you sure this is Brazil?” I couldn’t wait to see the plants and the process in action.

 

4th coffee wave?

I visited the Santuario Sul farm in early November, a quiet time of the year for this part of Brazil. There was no noise coming from the processing machine, no workers around carrying cherries. Instead the team were preparing land for another season while cupping and reviewing this year’s harvest.

While things might have been chill on the farm, they were very exciting on the table. This year Brazil has surprised us all, importers, roasters and competitors alike. What’s happening in Brazil right now could be called fourth coffee wave. Well-resourced Brazilian producers are harnessing new technology, experimenting with different processing techniques, and planting new varieties. This is to discover new taste profiles, improve the longevity of their coffee, and create replicable systems that ensure quality coffee every harvest.

Carmo Coffees are among those pioneering new fermentation methods and varieties. On their farm, Santuario Sul, they have created a coffee garden with over 25 varieties of coffee. So far, we have tasted Sudan Rume and SL28. We expect to see even more varieties this coming harvest.

 

Brazil on TOP!

Clean, bright with candy-intense fruitiness, the coffees I cupped on my visit possessed none of the notes I have come to expect from Brazilian coffees. On the table were new varieties: Sudan Rume, Geisha, SL28, Yirgacheffe, Laurina, and Tanzania, featuring new fermentation methods. These profiles have caught the attention of competitors, who presented these beans on the world stage during the World Brewers Cup 2018 with great success. The winning brew, presented by Emi Fukahori from Switzerland, was a Brazilian Laurina, a variety famous for its lower caffeine content.

 

Looking for competition coffee?

Are you looking for something unique and astounding to present on stage? Something to spice up your offering? As a fellow competitor I have some advice for you! We will receive the very first harvest of SL28, new variety Yirgacheffe and Sudan Rume processed with anaerobic fermentation. Limited quantities are available, exclusive for coffee lovers willing to experiment along with the producers! Interested? Contact me for details, and order your samples now!

Brazil: competitions & competition coffee

If you are a coffee competitor, or an avid fan of coffee competitions, your eyes will be on Brazil from November 7 to 9. Belo Horizonte will host this year’s International Coffee Week, which will feature not one but four world coffee championships:

  • World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship

  • World Latte Art Championship

  • World Cup Tasters Championship

  • World Brewers Cup

 Veronika wows the (CCS) judges while training for her upcoming World Brewers Cup performance. Before her competition, Veronika will visit Carmo Coffees to cup some of their exciting new experimental lots.

Veronika wows the (CCS) judges while training for her upcoming World Brewers Cup performance. Before her competition, Veronika will visit Carmo Coffees to cup some of their exciting new experimental lots.


Brazil - the new origin for competition coffees

Our own Veronika Galova Vesela will be there, both as a competitor, and to source competition coffees for 2019.   

These events could not come at a better time for Brazil’s specialty coffee producers, like our partners in the region, Carmo Coffees. Carmo have been experimenting for several years with exotic varieties and innovative fermentation techniques, and just launched their own series of unique and surprising coffees, worthy of competition. That’s right, Brazil is producing competition coffee. 

CCS will be cheering for two competitors in the World Brewers Cup this year: Veronika, who will represent her home country Slovakia, brewing Finca Deborah, and Tom Kuyken, the Norwegian champion, who will brew an anaerobic Sudan Rume from Carmo Coffee’s experimental farm, Santuario Sul

The farm, which began almost five years ago, is a collaboration between Luiz Paulo Pereira, producer and exporter with Carmo Coffees, Camilo Merizalde, the pioneering Colombian behind the Santuario project, and fermentation expert, Ivan Solis, from Costa Rica. Santuario Sul currently has 30 hectares of land in coffee production, and they aim to expand to 70 hectares very soon. 


New varieties 

Santuario Sul features 25 different varietals, making it the biggest coffee garden in Brazil. Last year they harvested a their first crop of Sudan Rume. This year saw the first harvest of SL28. 

Innovative Processing

As the new trees began producing fruit, the team began to experiment with processing, including anaerobic fermentation. Rather than import expensive equipment from overseas, they looked in their own backyard. Carmo de Minas is dairy country — Luiz Paulo's grandmother is as famous for her cows as she is for coffee — so they bought a fermentation tank used for cheese making. 

The closed steel tanks are easy to clean and feature double walls and temperature controls, which Ivan Solís adapted to the exact temperature range required for coffee processing. The tank used on Santuario Sul can process 2000 liters of cherries at a time - around ten bags of green coffee.

 Ivan Solis (right), fermentation and processing expert from Costa Rica, and Alessandro "Viola", processing manager at Irmas Pereira with the adapted cheese making fermentation tank used for anaerobic processing on several Carmo Coffees farms.

Ivan Solis (right), fermentation and processing expert from Costa Rica, and Alessandro "Viola", processing manager at Irmas Pereira with the adapted cheese making fermentation tank used for anaerobic processing on several Carmo Coffees farms.


The ANAEROBIC PROCESS at SANTUARIO SUL

The cherries are hand-picked to ensure perfect maturity, then washed to remove any juice excreted during the picking process which can significantly reduce the clarity in the cup. 

The team then measure the Brix levels of the cherries. If they are higher than 23, the cherries are used for anaerobic fermentation. If the Brix levels are lower than 23, they are destined to become naturals.  

The selected cherries are placed in the adapted dairy tank for 60 hours without any movement, then the tank is opened to check the PH level. When the PH of the mucilage inside the fermenting cherries reaches 4.5, it is time to take them out. 

After fermentation the cherries are removed and left to dry with the cascara still intact. Drying takes between 18 to 21 days, depending on the weather. The resulting cup is the perfect combination of washed and natural: clean, bright, full of fruit and sweetness. 

Learn more about the Santuario Sul project. 


Competing with Brazilians

Brazil is better known for espressos and blenders, than head-turning micro-lots, but Tom Kuyken is not the only barista who will present a Brazilian coffee this year. The location of the competitions has inspired many a coffee competitor to take a second look at this origin.

Finding your competition coffee

Are you looking for that stunning coffee to wow the judges in an upcoming competition? Check out our Competition Coffee offering, and get in touch with Veronika to book your lot now. 

Planning for next year? Before her competition Veronika will visit Carmo Coffees, to cup and learn, and discover those gems for shipment in 2019. Plus, we are thrilled to announce we will soon distribute Finca Deborah coffee, and we can expect more delicious surprises from our friends at La Palma y El Tucán, so stay tuned for exciting arrivals in the coming year. 

Is This Really Brazil?

It was a busy time leading up to the World of Coffee in Amsterdam. The team were working long hours, roasting crazy quantities of samples, packing equipment, finalising schedules, checking checklists. Then the Brazilians arrived. 

Boom! 

Everyone dropped what they were doing to meet Luiz Paulo Pereira and Hugo Silva from Carmo Coffees at the cupping table. 

What we tasted was like nothing we have come to expect from Brazil. Alongside the great washed and natural coffees we know and love from Carmo Coffees were these SL28 and Rume Sudan anaerobic newcomers: clean, bright with candy-intense fruitiness.

Exotic varieties? New processing methods? Is this really Brazil?
 

The Carmo Coffees approach

This is exactly the response Luiz Paulo Pereira was hoping for. This has been his mission since he started Carmo Coffees with his cousin Jacques Caneiro in 2007.

 Luiz Paulo Pereira, co-founder of Carmo Coffees

Luiz Paulo Pereira, co-founder of Carmo Coffees

The beginnings were not glamorous. The cousins, from a family of coffee producers, opened an export office in the small town of Carmo de Minas. It was important to look professional, so they hired Rose to work as a secretary and put a big white box of a computer on her desk. The machine didn’t work, but it showed they were a serious business; they had a secretary and a computer. 

They exported their first coffees in 2007, the same time CCS founder, Robert Thoresen, was in Brazil, sourcing for our sister roasting company, Kaffa Oslo. The three discovered a shared mission to showcase Brazil’s potential for specialty coffee, and began one of CCS’ longest running relationships. 

Twelve years later, Rose works in the QC department, Carmo Coffees employs 62 people, and all of their computers work. 
 

Carmo Coffees and Specialty

Carmo Coffees work differently to other coffee companies in Brazil. Firstly, they believe good coffee is born of relationships. 

“We have producers who come to us and ask, ‘I want to sell my coffee to you. What is the price?’” Luiz Paulo explained. “We want to know what is your plan? What future is there for both of us?”

Their sales force are called “Coffee Chefs.” Like a fine dining chef who sources the best ingredients and transforms them with passion and creativity into a delicious dish, the sales team must follow the coffee from the day it is planted until it is harvested, processed and delivered.

“Ninety nine percent of coffee traders in Brazil look for papers, the price, shipping times, negotiation possibilities. They sit at a computer all day,” Luiz Paulo said. “Our team are part of the coffee process from the beginning. They visit the producers, know their land, the costs, the challenges, the ambitions. This is all before the coffees arrive in our warehouse.”

 Luiz Paulo beside an African drying bed used for micro-lot washed coffees. 

Luiz Paulo beside an African drying bed used for micro-lot washed coffees. 


Santuario Sul

While Carmo Coffees have impressed us year after year for their consistent clean and fruity profiles, it was the coffees from Luiz Paulo’s new project, Santuario Sul, that had us all mesmerized in June. 

The project, which began almost five years ago, is a collaboration with Camilo Merizalde, the pioneering Colombian behind the Santuario project, plus the Santuario fermentation expert, Ivan Solis, from Costa Rica. The farm currently has 30 hectares of land in coffee production, and they aim to expand to 70 hectares very soon. 

We want this farm to be different,“ Luiz Paolo said. “If we do the usual things, it’s just another farm in Brazil. We are bringing together Brazilian terroir with Central and South American styles.”   

They began by planting different varietals, 25 in total, making it the biggest coffee garden in Brazil. Last year they harvested a their first crop of Sudan Rume. This year saw the first harvest of SL28. 

The next step was to experiment with processing, specifically anaerobic fermentation. Rather than import expensive equipment from overseas, the team looked in their own backyard. Carmo de Minas is dairy country — Luiz Paulo's grandmother is as famous for her cows as she is for coffee — so they bought a fermentation tank used for cheese making. 

The closed steel tanks are easy to clean and feature double walls and temperature controls, which Ivan Solís adapted to the exact temperature range required for coffee processing. The tank used on Santuario Sul can process 2000 liters of cherries - around ten bags of green coffee.
 

Anaerobic processing on Santuario Sul

The cherries are hand-picked to ensure perfect maturity, then washed to remove any juice excreted during the picking process which can significantly reduce the clarity in the cup. 

The team then measure the Brix levels of the cherries. If they are higher than 23, the cherries are used for anaerobic fermentation. If the Brix levels are lower than 23, they are destined to become naturals.  

The selected cherries are placed in the adapted dairy tank for 60 hours without any movement, then the tank is opened to check the PH level. When the PH of the mucilage inside the fermenting cherries reaches 4.5, it is time to take them out. 

“We experimented with a PH of 5,” Luiz Paulo explained, “but the flavor was too funky.” 

After fermentation the cherries are removed and left to dry with the cascara still intact. Drying takes between 18 to 21 days, depending on the weather.  

The resulting cup is the perfect combination of washed and natural: clean, bright, full of fruit and sweetness. 

 Ivan Solis, fermentation and processing expert from Costa Rica, and Alessandro "Viola", processing manager at Irmas Pereira with the  adapted cheese making fermentation tank used for anaerobic processing on several Carmo Coffees farms. 

Ivan Solis, fermentation and processing expert from Costa Rica, and Alessandro "Viola", processing manager at Irmas Pereira with the  adapted cheese making fermentation tank used for anaerobic processing on several Carmo Coffees farms. 

While Luiz Paulo notes that they are still learning, the initial experiments were so successful that they have installed tanks of three other sites: Fazenda Irmas Pereira (2000 liters), Alta Vista (2000 liters) and Pedralva (5000 liters). This is part of the Carmo Coffees approach. They are not interested in trends, or glamour, instead they aim to produce unique and delicious coffees year after year, which means everything must be repeatable.   


Natural Processing

The natural processing on Santuario Sul differs from other naturals from Brazil primarily in the picking, which is done manually. Maturing is a particularly long process in this part of Brazil, and trees frequently have both flowers and ripe cherries at the same time, making hand-picking only mature cherries essential. After picking, the cherries are laid to dry on average for 23 days. 

In both styles of processing the cherries are hand sorted as they dry on the beds. Carmo Coffees recently ran a competition, men vs women, to see who could select the largest number of imperfect cherries in the shortest amount of time. The women won by a large margin.
 

 On the left, natural coffees on the drying bed. On the right, anaerobic. Look at the difference in color! 

On the left, natural coffees on the drying bed. On the right, anaerobic. Look at the difference in color! 

Washed process

The cherries are hand-picked for perfect ripeness. They are de-pulped with some mucilage left intact. The coffee is left to ferment for an average of 24 hours, or until the PH level reaches 4.5. It is washed to remove any remaining mucilage and dried. Micro-lots are dried on African beds. The initial layer of coffee on the beds is very thin and as the coffee dries, they increase height of the layers. 
 

Want to get your hands on some samples? 

Carmo Coffees will be special guests in Oslo at our Summer’s End Celebration in September, presenting more of these stereotype-busting coffees. Email bjornar@collaborativecoffeesource.com if you would like to join us. 

If you can’t make it to Oslo, add your details to the form below and we will contact you as soon as pre-shipment samples arrive.  

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Brazilian quality Innovations

Given that Brazil has one of the most developed economies and coffee sectors throughout all of the coffee producing origins, its coffee producers and exporters are relatively "wealthy" in terms of resources and knowledge, placing them ahead of the curve when it comes to having the capacity to innovate in coffee production. About 80% of Brazilian coffee is natural processed. This is due to a few different factors, not least because labour is relatively expensive in Brazil. In general, labour costs combined with the fact that many farms have good infrastructure, coffee production in Brazil is more mechanized than it is in other producing origins. One potential paradox to this, when it comes to specialty coffee, is the value that is often placed on specialty coffee being handcrafted or otherwise produced in a special way.

What we've found, over the years, is that it is not always the case that labour or time intensiveness equals coffee quality. Especially in Brazil, where we are continually impressed by the strides its specialty coffee community is making by using its relative wealth and resources to produce ever more interesting and more tasty coffees.

Over the past few years in particular, we've noticed innovations in three areas: picking, processing and fermentation.

pinheirinho-farm.jpg

Picking 

In Brazil, coffee tends to be planted at "lower" elevations in comparison to other origins. This, in combination with the lack of manual labour, means that mechanical pickers are very commonly used to strip coffee cherries off of the trees. If undertaken only once in a season, farmers are left with a vast number of over- and under-ripe cherries, so in order to optimize the picking of ripe cherries, producers have come up with three levels of stripping: first from the top, then the middle, and finally the bottom of the tree. These pickings are further sorted into micro-lot and commodity grades.

Interesting to note is that the middle of the tree tends to produce the best quality since it has the most balanced sun-exposure and the leaves protect the cherries from the elements (e.g. wind and frost). As well, while handpicking isn’t common, higher altitude farms or farms within mountainous areas require handpicking since machines aren't able to operate at these angles.
 

Processing

Since Brazil is best known and equipped for producing naturals and pulped naturals, these processes are naturally the first to undergo experimentation and development.

At higher elevation/small production farms, farmers are innovating the way they dry coffee since there is not a lot of room for drying beds or patios. Small huts with fermentation tank-like tanks with mesh floors are being built and solar panels are installed, which powers a turbine that creates warm or cold airflow based on drying needs. The drying method within these huts consists of first filling up the tank with five tons of cherries and then injecting a controlled amount of air flow upward through the mesh and on to the cherries. This whole process takes about 30 days to complete. According to Alex, who last travelled to Brazil for our August 2017 buying trip, while this process is slower than others, it provides a stable drying environment and temperatures. In terms of cup quality, he experienced that the coffee is quite fresh and fruit-forward.

Carmo Coffees is both our longest-standing and most trusted partner in Brazil. They're also conducting some of the most forward-looking experiments in Brazilian specialty coffee. Within the area of processing, they are one of the few producers doing washed processing and for the first time, we are offering a washed Brazilian coffee that has been produced by them. We chose this lot not because it is a washed coffee, necessarily, but because it is really, really good.

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Fermentation

Carmo is also experimenting with yeast fermentation. Brazilian coffee producers in general haven’t had the energy or desire to ferment the coffee due to it being time and resource intensive. Brazil's coffee producing tradition has been focused on volume and uniformity. The times are changing and Carmo is at the forefront.

While the Carmo team is choosing to be proprietary about the protocol of their fermentation experiments, the fact that they’re starting to experiment is itself significant. And already proving to be rewarding: one of the experimental lots last year was scored 93-points by no less than Kentaro Maruyama.

What they were willing to share is that at one of the experimental farms, they had employed a yeast expert from France that had been traveling all over the world to teach producers how to use yeast in coffee fermentation. The basic concept is to utilize a single yeast bacterial culture within a stable tank/environment. This bacterial culture then lives in the tank and impacts the cherries in a way that is replicable year after year (since it's a single culture). The biggest upside is having replicable profiles year after year. Some  downsides are that it pollutes water and is time consuming.

Brazil is unique as a coffee origin because it has the land, infrastructure and capital to be freer in focusing on innovating, while most other origins are working just to make coffee a sustainable enterprise. In other words, Brazilian producers have the resources to carry out experiments and not just invest in disease prevention and other practical investments. Hopefully over time, as coffee markets and consumers become more educated about the costs involved in producing coffee and prices subsequently rise to meet these realities, the Brazilian approach to coffee innovation will become a model for other coffee origins to follow.

-Melanie

***

Get in touch with Nico for samples if you are located in Europe & Asia and Sal if you are located in the US and Canada.

Origin Report: Brazil 2016

Back in 2012, Robert wrote about how the changing Brazilian economy was impacting the business of making specialty coffee from labour availability and minimum wage, to pondering the impacts of strip picking vs. hand picking, to differences in topographic and climatic conditions between microregions and how they potentially affect cup quality. This past August during our regular post-harvest visit, David and I were met with a Carmo de Minas that had been dealing with La Niña early on in this year’s main harvest season. This weather event brought extremely heavy rain, which led to a lot of challenges, including surprises at the cupping table. For the first time, we were faced with defects, which we never would have imagined experiencing at these particular cupping tables. This base assumption alone, of expecting not to come across a single defect in the hundreds of cups that were presented to us, speaks to the incredible reputation that Carmo Coffees has built over the years. And why we continue to work proudly alongside this team.

 Carmo Coffee's brand new cupping lab

Carmo Coffee's brand new cupping lab

La Niña and the 2016 Harvest

There’s no getting around the fact that in comparison to previous years, finding this year’s offerings proved to be an unexpected challenge. Great coffees were there for the taking but we’re used to dealing with the luxury problem of getting to pick and choose amongst dozens of great lots. This year, there were quite a few phenolic defects to contend with, which Luiz Paulo (co-founder of Carmo Coffees, coffee farmer and researcher) hypothesized had developed as a result of the severely increased volume of rain, which leads to an environment ripe for bacteria growth. In Brazil, coffee cherries dry on the trees (due to the common practice of strip picking), so when the rains come, the cherry skin stretches and tears a bit allowing some outside water in as the fruit swells. As the cherry shrinks back down and the skin of the fruit heals over, there is a higher chance of phenol forming inside the coffee.

One of the many frustrating things about the phenol defect is that it is not something one can physically see on the surface of the bean. It is a cup character flaw that makes a coffee taste medicinal, metallic and astringent.

To be clear, the Carmo team does an outstanding job cupping, sorting and milling every single lot they work with. But this year the team was faced with the battling: 1. Cupping through and finding the best lots possible amongst an overall disappointing harvest and 2. Dealing with an elusive defect, since phenol is not something that can visually be detected.

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Curiosity as an Indicator of a Quality Mindset

There are many reasons we have confidently worked with the Carmo team over the years, above and beyond the awards and accolades their coffees and partners’ coffees have received throughout various cupping competitions year after year. Despite the fact that their reach (with the number of famer partners they work with) and the volume they export has grown exponentially, the team remains resolutely committed to being amongst the most innovative coffee exporters in the world. One example is their continued collaboration with Dr. Flávio Borém of Lavras University, a coffee scientist who studies everything from how microclimates impact cup quality to how different types of packaging (e.g. vacuum vs. grain pro) best contribute (or not) to a green coffee’s shelf life. He even recently published a very well-received book about the research he’s done on packaging, along with other findings on how post-harvest activities contribute to green coffee quality.

Actively engaging with, along with supporting, this kind of research is a marker of at least a savvy specialty coffee exporter. But actually contributing to specialty coffee development is a different category altogether and is an even bigger draw for us.
 

Luiz Paulo: Coffee Exporter, Experimenter, Maverick

One thing is supporting research efforts and using evidence-based knowledge in forming best coffee farming, milling and export practices. If an exporter were to stop here, it’d be safe to say that you’re working with a reliable and trustworthy partner. When that partner goes further and has ambitions to disruptand challenge basic assumptions about what a coffee sector can do, well, now we’re getting into straight-up maverick territory.

Brazil is known for being an efficient coffee producing country, but it’s no secret that it’s also perceived as being a bit of a boring origin with good but uninteresting coffees. Its well-developed infrastructure, professionally managed farms and high yielding trees are a double-edged sword within the specialty coffee community, which favours the most innovative, boutique and most unique. Perhaps there’s a way to achieve both?

Without giving too much away, since things are very much in the development stage, Luiz Paulo introduced us to some very promising and exciting experiments he’s conducting at his mother’s farm. He labels this series of projects “New Flavors” and it encompasses the latest innovations in processing and varieties. We’ve already selected and offered (based on blind cupping) two lots based on green/unripe coffee cherries that underwent special fermentation techniques to draw out more sugar content. These coffees cupped as well as many other pulped natural we’ve chosen and the fact that this technique can potentially add value to coffee that is normally discarded is an enticing prospect. Especially when the industry is faced with declining worldwide Arabica production due to the ever increasing consequences of climate change.

In two years, Luiz Paulo will be harvesting the first of the new varieties he’s been cultivating under New Flavors. Very much looking forward to cupping and sharing those with you in the near future!

Melanie

 Luiz Paulo with yellow bourbon 42, the very first strain of yellow bourbon produced in Brazil

Luiz Paulo with yellow bourbon 42, the very first strain of yellow bourbon produced in Brazil

2016 El Niño/La Niña & Effects

 Eight months of dry heat has left plants struggling to produce fruit. The farmer pictured above simply had no coffee production as of May, during the usual peak of harvest. Zero.

Eight months of dry heat has left plants struggling to produce fruit. The farmer pictured above simply had no coffee production as of May, during the usual peak of harvest. Zero.

Climate Change & Its Impacts on Coffee Production

Most of us are well aware that coffee is highly susceptible to climate change. During visits to pretty well all coffee producing countries, the evidence - signs and stories - are there for all of us to see and hear.During our recent travels to both Colombia and Brazil, the impacts of climate change were all around us. From Colombian producer stories of little to no (yes, zero) production during peak harvest, to decreased sugar content in cherries due to plants being impacted by severe rains in Brazil, it becomes increasingly obvious that in addition to having strong agronomic practices and great cup profiles, being a great coffee producer now also means being adaptable to climate change.
 

El Niño vs. La Niña

First a brief background to the two weather phenomena we observed the effects of during our recent trip.

Whereas El Niño is referring to the warming of tropical Pacific surface waters from near the International Date Line to the west coast of South America from November to March once every 3 to 7 years, La Niña is the cooling of sea surface temperatures and takes place roughly half as often as El Niño.

(For an in-depth intro to the connections between climate change and these two weather phenomena, please see the links (below) under "Further Reading".)
 

El Niño & Colombia's Coffee Harvest

While travelling throughout the countryside in Huila, Colombia our team learned that while there was a net increase in coffee production between July 2015 to July 2016, this figure says nothing of the devastation El Niño wreaked earlier this year. Many of the country's departments, in particular Huila, experienced both the worst drought conditions and some of the highest recorded temperatures in over 130 years.

As described earlier, many farmers suffered through zero production moving into the peak of harvest. The lack of a harvest was caused by cherries not producing seeds due to the lack of rain and lead to a further serious consequence that many cherry picking labourers, who are paid by weight, simply refused to pick whatever was produced on the trees. For affected coffee farmers, the lack of picking causes even more future harm because the trees are then not prepared for the next harvest cycle.
 

La Niña & Brazil

While El Niño causes dry and even drought like conditions, like the ones our Colombian partners faced, La Niña produces the opposite: excessively rainy/wet conditions. In the case of our partners in the Carmo de Minas region of Brazil, La Niña brought three times the amount of rain at the beginning of the season than normal and this caused not only damage to many of the cherries, but also a disproportionate number of defects due to the increased opportunities for bacteria to infect drying cherries on the branches of coffee trees. In Brazil, the heat is often so intense during the dry season, when coffee is harvested, that fruit begins to parch while its still on the branches.

The results of all of this is evident in the cup, as many of the coffees we tasted had less sweetness and complexity than in previous years. The good news is that we were able to find and pick out the best of what was on offer. It just took more concentration during our screening and more samples to find these gems. From a farm perspective, our partners are fortunately well organized and have great practices and infrastructure in place. They can rely on some of their other farm activities to make up for coffee deficits from this harvest and are able to plan, adapt to and mitigate possible long-term effects from the weather conditions this year.


It wasn't all bad news during the course of this trip. We are delighted to report that in Colombia, production has picked up due to increased and steady rain over the past couple of months. We have begun working with a new partner in the Acevedo, Huila region in Colombia that we will elaborate further on in the near future.

In Brazil, our partners at Carmo Coffees are working on some incredibly interesting and potentially ground-breaking work on varieties and processing. We hope to offer some early showcases from this work in the coming arrivals and will keep you posted on how the coffees cup when we receive samples.

 

Further Reading

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1306-x

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/march-2016-el-ni%C3%B1o-update-spring-forward

http://reliefweb.int/report/world/la-ni-early-warning-early-action-analysis-potential-la-ni-2016-2017-revised-edition

http://www.cafedecolombia.com/bb-fnc-en/index.php/comments/how_el_nino_la_nina_affect_production_of_cafe_de_colombia/

Farm Profile: Sao Benedito

benedito4
benedito4

Name: Fazenda São Benedito
Region: South of Minas
District: Minas Gerais
Location: Carmo de Minas
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1410mm
Altitude (masl): 1150m
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Main Harvest Season: July-September
Varieties: Yellow Bourbon, Catuai, Catucai


About

The São Benedito estate is owned by the Sertão Group, a family firm with more than 100 years history in the production and commercialization of high-quality coffee. The region is well known for its mineral water springs, perfect combination of latitude and altitude, mountainous terrain, well defined seasons and fertile soil.

Favourable climatic and growing conditions found in South Minas have resulted in an expansion of the firm’s coffee program. The Sertão Group now possess large areas planted with coffee and are constantly developing infrastructure capable of producing a wide variety of high quality arabica coffee to both domestic and international markets.

In addition to coffee production the Sertão Group, in recent years, has successfully begun breeding and selling Girolando cattle, as well as cultivating and selling corn and soybeans. The firm employs highly qualified technical assistance in each of its areas of activity, in order to ensure the quality of the products.

The Sertão Group employs approximately 135 families that reside on-site throughout the year. These families make up the core of Sertão’s permanent team and are provided with free housing of good quality, running water, electricity, milk, coffee and fruit. In addition, on-site schools with fully qualified teachers for primary and secondary education, on-site medical and dental care, soccer fields and fishing ponds for leisure time, are provided. In an effort to ensure and promote environmentally sustainable practice, programs have been implemented to preserve springs and water sources, wildlife, forests and other vegetation, and soil. All the water used in the washing tanks and pulpers is recycled, with residues transferred to settling ponds in order to avoid excessive use of water and contamination of the surrounding environment. The husks of pulped coffee, which are rich in nutrients, are used as fertilizer and organic matter in the coffee fields.

During the 2005 Cup of Excellence competition, São Benedito won second place with a score of 92.65 points.


Background to Carmo de Minas

Over the past decade, Brazil as a nation has experienced fantastic economic growth in every field, with higher purchasing power and an ever-increasing standard of living. At least 20 million people have risen above the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in a relatively few number of years. The value of labor has also increased: Brazil now has full employment and rising wages. All of this naturally affects the cost of coffee production in general, but it especially affects labor-intensive coffee (read: new processing methods with even higher costs). In some cases it is difficult to find labor at all, especially for farm work. Incentives must be strengthened in order to keep people at work within coffee. And as the world’s largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component of blends all over the world. Thus, the price paid for Brazilian coffee is a reflection of the fact that coffee from here is considered a base product. In parallel with fluctuations in world markets and in the pricing of coffee in general, the specialty coffee segment has established its own price dynamics.

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

 

Farm Profile: Irmas Pereira

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Name: Fazenda Irmas Pereira
Region: Southeastern Brazil
District: Carmo de Minas
Location: Minas Gerais
Nearest Town/Centre: Carmo de Minas
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1700mm
Altitude (masl): 1075-1229
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Main Harvest Season: July-September
Varieties: Yellow Icatu, Yellow Catuai, Yellow Catucai, and Yellow Bourbon


About

In 1971, Antonio Andrade Pereira Filho and Maria da Conceição Costa Pereira decided to invest in a farm of 90 acres in the city of Carmo de Minas, Minas Gerais. Antonio planted the first coffee seedlings and the couple started a family, raising two daughters: Maria and Maria Rogéria. Eventually the two women took over the running of the farm, along with their husbands, ushering in a new generation of coffee producers. With the eventual passing of Antonio, Maria and Maria Rogéria decided to continue running the farm together. Thus they changed the name of the farm from Serrado to Irmãs (Sisters) Pereira, ushering in a new spirit to their coffee production.

Irmas Pereira is perched in the high mountains of the South Minas Water Spa Circuit, near the towns of Lambari, Carmo de Minas and São Lourenço. The estate boasts great altitude, climate and dedicated management and workers. The coffee bushes grow in fertile mountain soil at altitudes ranging between 3,500 and 4,000 feet. These high altitudes favor slow ripening of cherries and permits selective picking; both decisive factors in producing exceptional coffees.

The estate utilizes top quality processing equipment: a state-of-the-art wet mill that recycles and reuses waste water, paved drying patios, mechanical driers and wooden silos for coffee to rest. However, the combination of these tools, combined with the exceptional climate and advanced agronomic techniques, would be wasted without the personal dedication of the estate’s owners and commitment the well-qualified team of approximately 35 employees.


Special Preparation: Sweet Shower

Sweet Shower is one of the methods of Irmas Pereira's exclusive program called New Flavors®. It consists in a controlled fermentation of shelled coffees. It’s almost like a twist in the typically Brazilian Natural method in which the cherries are left overnight into a tank filled with very cold water for for about 15 hours.

This is what allows a controlled and soft kind of fermentation to happen. The cold water avoids the full and unwanted fermentation of the coffee beans. After this period of being submerged in cold water, in the morning, the coffee is put on an African bed and stays there for 14 days or until it reaches the desired humidity level. The coffee is kept in their dry shells until 16 days before it’s prepared for trading or for a competition like the CoE Brazil - Naturals, in which we achieved the 2nd place with a sample from Fazenda Irmãs Pereira processed in this method. 

Sweet Shower results in a very sweet coffee with fruity notes, caramel sweetness, pleasant citric acidity, soft velvety body and a smooth aftertaste.  You can find this special preparation coffee on CCS' current offering list. 


Background to Carmo de Minas

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to

Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

 

Farm Profile: Sitio Fernandes

 Fernandes Family

Fernandes Family

Name: Sitio Fernandes
City: Pedralva
Total estate area (acre): 67
Altitude (masl): 1160-1330
Varietals: Bourbon, Mundo Novo, Acaia


About

The estate first belonged to Mr. Mario Fernandes who in 1974 was raising cattle and producing sugar cane. During this time coffee prices were experiencing rapid growth and the family decided to plant their first crop of coffee, which unfortunately coincided with the “Great Frost of 1975” and another big frost problem two years after.

The eldest son of family, Mr. Marcelo Fernandes, had planned to move to São José dos Campos to study but with consecutive frosts and subsequent difficulties with the farm he decided to stay and work with his father in the coffee plantations. For over 20 years, the family had no machines for coffee processing and the marketing of their coffee was done through brokers who bought coffee without any knowledge about the quality, thereby offering low prices in relation to the costs coffee production required.

Marcelo and his siblings Paul, Sebastian, Vanderley and Carmen have therefore struggled over the years and felt they had little prospect for growth and profitability with the farm. The situation was exacerbated when the patriarch, Mario, died in 2009. After his passing, the situation on the farm became critical and the family had to make tough decisions, as the farm was already split into small plots amongst the brothers, making each endeavor even less profitable. Usually in Brazil, the consequence of these kinds of realities is that the farm is sold with the former owners moving into the cities.

Instead, the brothers invested in infrastructure and mechanization to improve productivity and overall quality of the coffees. They built a single processing center for all the individual plots, which has a simple dryer and a small milling machine. The brothers were thus able to increase the productivity of each plot began seeing the benefits of correctly dried coffees. Improvements to processing led to a discovery of the huge potential of producing specialty coffees with unique characteristics of the micro region. An added result is that the family is able to inspire future generations to learn and continue with the coffee business.

One of the “next generation” is Marcela who is working in the quality department of CarmoCoffees, roasting and cupping coffees, which will undoubtedly contribute to her family’s business.


Background to Carmo de Minas

Over the past decade, Brazil as a nation has experienced fantastic economic growth in every field, with higher purchasing power and an ever-increasing standard of living. At least 20 million people have risen above the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in a relatively few number of years. The value of labor has also increased: Brazil now has full employment and rising wages. All of this naturally affects the cost of coffee production in general, but it especially affects labor-intensive coffee (read: new processing methods with even higher costs). In some cases it is difficult to find labor at all, especially for farm work. Incentives must be strengthened in order to keep people at work within coffee. And as the world’s largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component of blends all over the world. Thus, the price paid for Brazilian coffee is a reflection of the fact that coffee from here is considered a base product. In parallel with fluctuations in world markets and in the pricing of coffee in general, the specialty coffee segment has established its own price dynamics.

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

 

Farm Profile: Pinheirinho

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Farm: Pinheirinho Area (ha): 25 City: Carmo de Minas Region: Carmo de Minas Altitude (masl): 1056-1140 Varieties: Yellow Icatu ,Yellow Catuai, Yellow Catucai, Acaia Processes: Naturals

About

Lilica is the third generation to manage the Pinheirinho farm, which was inherited from his father. When his father was still alive he oversaw the management of Pinheirinho and Lilica was not involved with the farm’s activities. Lilica has gone through much adversity in his personal life, struggling with alcohol abuse, amongst other things, which heavily contributed to Lilica being absent from the family business of managing Pinheirinho.

Twenty years ago Lilica’s father passed away and at this point Lilica had no experience with farming and continued struggling personally. During this difficult time Lilica sought the support of his family in order to overcome his alcohol addiction and to become focused on learning the activities of managing the farm he had inherited.

Over time Lilica began to better understand the process of coffee production but had little knowledge of coffee cup quality and therefore did not know the real value or potential value of his product. Five years ago, Lilica began working with Carmo Coffees and started to learn about the cup quality of his coffees and is now able to determine its flavours and attributes. In his words, "I discovered that my coffees on average reach 85 points and tastes like plum." When asked about future challenges to improve the quality of his coffee, Lilica responded, “[I] wish [in] the future to get a certificate of sustainability to the farm and a stable production of specialty coffees.”

2014 marks the first year that CCS is working with Lilica and one of the two lots purchased from Lilica was produced from a selective picking project wherein the tradition of mechanically stripping coffee cherries off the branches of the trees were dismissed in favour of hand-picking selectively mature, fully ripened cherries. We are excited about the long-term possibilities in working with Lilica.

Background to Carmo de Minas

Over the past decade, Brazil as a nation has experienced fantastic economic growth in every field, with higher purchasing power and an ever-increasing standard of living. At least 20 million people have risen above the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in a relatively few number of years. The value of labor has also increased: Brazil now has full employment and rising wages. All of this naturally affects the cost of coffee production in general, but it especially affects labor-intensive coffee (read: new processing methods with even higher costs). In some cases it is difficult to find labor at all, especially for farm work. Incentives must be strengthened in order to keep people at work within coffee. And as the world’s largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component of blends all over the world. Thus, the price paid for Brazilian coffee is a reflection of the fact that coffee from here is considered a base product. In parallel with fluctuations in world markets and in the pricing of coffee in general, the specialty coffee segment has established its own price dynamics.

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

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Farm Profile: Sao Joaquim

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Farm: São Joaquim Area (ha): 42 City: Conceição das pedras Region: Conceição das pedrasAltitude (masl): 1200-1450Varieties: Yellow Catuai,Red Catuai, Mundo Novo Process: Natural

About

The Sao Joaquim property is heritage of Jesimar grandfather, Mr. Vicente Garcia de Oliveira. In 1953, Mr. Garcia de Oliveira planted the first coffee tree on the property and over the years, the property has passed from grandfather to father to son and now Jesimar holds the family tradition in being a third generation coffee farmer. Jesimar’s father always maintained that his father was able to raise himself and his siblings from the income coffee generated; this has continued to the current generation and Jesimar is also able to raise his children with the income obtained from coffee. In Jesimar’s time, farm production has diversified from coffee production only to an expansion into banana and livestock production as well as coffee.

In 2009, Jesimar sadly lost his son in a truck accident and found some solace within his work on the farm. The farm and its cultivation of coffee became a type of therapy for Jesimar during this period of mourning and reflection.

In 2012 one of Jesimar sent a sample to the “Late Harvest” Cup of Excellence competition where it surprisingly won with a score of 92.13. São Joaquim became an instantly recognized farm in Brazil and the world.

Since 2012, Jesimar changed the way he runs the farm and now dedicates his work and focus on the production of specialty coffees. When asked about future challenges in improving quality, Jesimar says:

“My plan is to make a more selective harvesting of coffee [cherries] but this can only be done through long-term partnerships."

Background to Carmo de Minas

Over the past decade, Brazil as a nation has experienced fantastic economic growth in every field, with higher purchasing power and an ever-increasing standard of living. At least 20 million people have risen above the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in a relatively few number of years. The value of labor has also increased: Brazil now has full employment and rising wages. All of this naturally affects the cost of coffee production in general, but it especially affects labor-intensive coffee (read: new processing methods with even higher costs). In some cases it is difficult to find labor at all, especially for farm work. Incentives must be strengthened in order to keep people at work within coffee. And as the world’s largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component of blends all over the world. Thus, the price paid for Brazilian coffee is a reflection of the fact that coffee from here is considered a base product. In parallel with fluctuations in world markets and in the pricing of coffee in general, the specialty coffee segment has established its own price dynamics.

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

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A Natural(s) Backdrop

Brazil processing 1 In Brazil, historically, processing coffee cherries has been equivalent to just drying them. The coffee cherries are kept intact while drying, neither requiring water nor involving any mechanical procedures. The natural process, then, has been a resource saving method altogether.

Although the natural process is solely a drying process, there are traditional and regional variations as to how the process is done. In one method the cherries are fully matured and fully dried while still hanging on the tree. But more often, cherries will be picked at the ‘average peak’ of maturation, and then dried in the sun or in a mechanical drier. In any case, and at any given time, all the cherries on a tree will be at various levels of maturation, or more or less dried.

Generally, labor cost is becoming an impactful economical factor in many coffee countries, particularly with a rapidly growing economy like Brazil has been experiencing in recent years. The expenses spent on picking the cherries off the coffee trees may represent a high percentage of the total cost of producing the coffee, thus the harvest regime is crucial for sustaining a sound coffee farming business. In Brazil, in most areas (and most commonly), coffee trees are harvested once every harvest with a traditional ‘stripping’ technique that is less labor intensive than selective cherry picking: All the cherries are removed from each branch in one swift maneuver. It has also become common to use mechanical equipment to save on labor involved with the harvest.

Brazil processing 2

Natural processed coffee counts for more than 80% of the total volume produced in Brazil and in some regions it is still the only processing method. Access to water resources has obviously played a role in this, as well as varying degrees of access to the marketplace itself. It wasn’t until the early-1990s, with the introduction of Pinhalense de-pulping machines, which removes the skin and mucilage from the bean before drying, that the pulped natural process became an option. The pulped natural process was initially introduced as way a to add value to Brazilian commodity coffee: to provide it with a cleaner coffee flavor. The market has responded to this by paying a premium for a clearer cup profile.

The machinery used for pulped natural processing is equipped with a feature that pre-screens cherries mechanically before the actual de-pulping process starts.

When ‘stripping’ is the most common picking regime, the mechanical post-picking cherry quality selection is the key factor in achieving a cleaner cup profile. This is what pulped natural processed coffee has been associated with.

With this as a backdrop two intriguing questions arise:

  1. What is the flavor potential of a Brazilian natural processed coffee if the cherries are picked carefully and selectively before drying?
  2. How should cherries be dried anyway? With full sun exposure, or more gently under shade or more controlled environment?

The next posts will explore the themes arising from these questions, so stay tuned!

- Robert

Warm up to LCDC 2.0 at Belleville, November 6, 2014

Bonjour Paris!

Melanie will be in town this Thursday as part of a warm-up to Le Carnaval du Café 2.0, which kicks-off January 25, 2015 at the beautiful La Bellevilloise of Paris.

For those of you who didn't join us during Le Carnaval du Café 2012, one of our esteemed guests was Dr. Flávio Borém, who presented findings from his research on natural processing in Brazil. Flávio is not only the pre-eminent researcher on coffee quality post-harvest (processing, drying, storage); he is also a naturals-processing specialist: from both research and cupping aspects. To give the briefest of backgrounds to this, naturals are vitally important to Brazil's coffee production as it makes up 80-85% of all coffee exported from Brazil. However, Brazilian naturals have been disregarded from a specialty coffee standpoint because much of it is regarded as inferior in quality and taste in comparison to coffee processed through other methods. What we at CCS have found is that there are great naturals to be had - it's a matter of finding the right partners that do naturals right.

During this week's warm-up event, Melanie will present some updates on some of these themes, as well as cup samples from this year's harvest to showcase just how far some Brazilian naturals have come in cup quality.

Welcome!

Event details

Location: Belleville, 10 rue Pradier

Date/Time: Thursday,  November 6th from 16:00

Farm Profile: Pereira Sisters (formerly 'Fazenda Serrado')

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Name: Pereira Sisters (formerly Fazenda Serrado) Total estate area (acre): 250 Altitude (masl): 1075-1229 Varietals: Bourbon, Acaiá, Mundo Novo, Catuaí and Catuaí

About

In 1971, Antonio Andrade Pereira Filho and Maria da Conceição Costa Pereira decided to invest in a farm of 90 acres in the city of Carmo de Minas, Minas Gerais. Antonio planted the first coffee seedlings and the couple started a family, raising two daughters: Maria and Maria Rogéria. Eventually the two women took over the running of the farm, along with their husbands, ushering in a new generation of coffee producers. With the eventual passing of Antonio, Maria and Maria Rogéria decided to continue running the farm together. Thus they changed the name of the farm from Serrado to Irmãs (Sisters) Pereira, ushering in a new spirit to their coffee production.

Irmas Pereira is perched in the high mountains of the South Minas Water Spa Circuit, near the towns of Lambari, Carmo de Minas and São Lourenço. The estate boasts great altitude, climate and dedicated management and workers. The coffee bushes grow in fertile mountain soil at altitudes ranging between 3,500 and 4,000 feet. These high altitudes favor slow ripening of cherries and permits selective picking; both decisive factors in producing exceptional coffees.

The estate utilizes top quality processing equipment: a state-of-the-art wet mill that recycles and reuses waste water, paved drying patios, mechanical driers and wooden silos for coffee to rest. However, the combination of these tools, combined with the exceptional climate and advanced agronomic techniques, would be wasted without the personal dedication of the estate’s owners and commitment the well-qualified team of approximately 35 employees.

New methods for Specialty coffees

With the new management, the family has invested in the production of specialty coffees and new processing methods.

Black honey parchment: Usually 100% of the mucilage is left, and during drying the cherries take on a distinctively dark color.

Double pass: Green (unripe) cherries are first separated from red and mature cherries in the washer. The mature cherries stay soaking in the tank for 12 hours and are then pulped.

Chuveirinho: After pulping, the coffee remains in a tank with cold water for more than 12 hours overnight and the next day they are sent to the drying area.

Unwashed Naturals: Green/unripe cherries are sorted out with the aid of a machine without any contact with water. Only mature cherries remain and these are then dried.

Honey: Between 50 – 100% of mucilage is left on the parchment. These cherries then become “red” or “black”, depending on the drying conditions.

Background to Carmo de Minas

Over the past decade, Brazil as a nation has experienced fantastic economic growth in every field, with higher purchasing power and an ever-increasing standard of living. At least 20 million people have risen above the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in a relatively few number of years. The value of labor has also increased: Brazil now has full employment and rising wages. All of this naturally affects the cost of coffee production in general, but it especially affects labor-intensive coffee (read: new processing methods with even higher costs). In some cases it is difficult to find labor at all, especially for farm work. Incentives must be strengthened in order to keep people at work within coffee. And as the world’s largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component of blends all over the world. Thus, the price paid for Brazilian coffee is a reflection of the fact that coffee from here is considered a base product. In parallel with fluctuations in world markets and in the pricing of coffee in general, the specialty coffee segment has established its own price dynamics.

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to

Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

 

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Serrado 5 Serrado 4 Serrado 3 Serrado 2 Serrado 7

Farm Profile: Fazenda Santa Inês

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Fazenda Santa Ines (5)

Name: Fazenda Santa Inês
Total estate area (acre): 530
Total area planted with coffee: 259
Varietals: Yellow Bourbon, Red Bourbon, Yellow Catuaí, Acaiá and Mundo Novo
Average Total Production (bags): 3 300
Average Pulped Natural Production: 1 500
Average Natural Production: 1 800

About

The Santa Inês estate is owned by the Sertão Group, a family firm with more than 100 years history in the production and commercialization of high-quality coffee. The Sertão Estate, located in Carmo de Minas, South Minas Gerais, was inherited by José Isidro Pereira and Nazareth Dias Pereira and is now managed by their sons and in-laws. The region is well known for its mineral water springs, perfect combination of latitude and altitude, mountainous terrain, well-defined seasons and fertile soil.

Favourable climatic and growing conditions found in South Minas have resulted in an expansion of the firm’s coffee program. The Sertão Group now possess large areas planted with coffee and are constantly developing infrastructure capable of producing a wide variety of high quality arabica coffee to both domestic and international markets.

In addition to coffee production the Sertão Group, in recent years, has successfully begun breeding and selling Girolando cattle, as well as cultivating and selling corn and soybeans. The firm employs highly qualified technical assistance in each of its areas of activity, in order to ensure the quality of the products.

The Sertão Group employs approximately 135 families that reside on-site throughout the year. These families make up the core of Sertão’s permanent team and are provided with free housing of good quality, running water, electricity, milk, coffee and fruit. In addition, on-site schools with fully qualified teachers for primary and secondary education, on-site medical and dental care, soccer fields and fishing ponds for leisure time, are provided.

In an effort to ensure and promote environmentally sustainable practice, programs have been implemented to preserve springs and water sources, wildlife, forests and other vegetation, and soil. All the water used in the washing tanks and pulpers is recycled, with residues transferred to settling ponds in order to avoid excessive use of water and contamination of the surrounding environment. The husks of pulped coffee, which are rich in nutrients, are used as fertilizer and organic matter in the coffee fields.

Background to Carmo de Minas

Over the past decade, Brazil as a nation has experienced fantastic economic growth in every field, with higher purchasing power and an ever-increasing standard of living. At least 20 million people have risen above the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in a relatively few number of years. The value of labor has also increased: Brazil now has full employment and rising wages. All of this naturally affects the cost of coffee production in general, but it especially affects labor-intensive coffee (read: new processing methods with even higher costs). In some cases it is difficult to find labor at all, especially for farm work. Incentives must be strengthened in order to keep people at work within coffee. And as the world’s largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component of blends all over the world. Thus, the price paid for Brazilian coffee is a reflection of the fact that coffee from here is considered a base product. In parallel with fluctuations in world markets and in the pricing of coffee in general, the specialty coffee segment has established its own price dynamics.

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

pdf version

Fazenda Santa Ines (10)

Farm Profile: Fazenda Santa Lúcia

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Fazenda Santa Lucia 4 Name: Fazenda Santa Lúcia Total estate area (acre): 1 828 Total area planted with coffee: 205 Varietals: Yellow Bourbon, Catuaí, Acaiá and Mundo Novo Average Total Production (bags): 2 800 Average Pulped Natural Production: 1 260 Average Natural Production: 1 540

About The Santa Lucia estate is owned by the Sertão Group, a family firm with more than 100 years history in the production and commercialization of high-quality coffee. The Sertão Estate, located in Carmo de Minas, South Minas Gerais, was inherited by José Isidro Pereira and Nazareth Dias Pereira and is now managed by their sons and in-laws. The region is well known for its mineral water springs, perfect combination of latitude and altitude, mountainous terrain, well-defined seasons and fertile soil.

Favourable climatic and growing conditions found in South Minas have resulted in an expansion of the firm’s coffee program. The Sertão Group now possess large areas planted with coffee and are constantly developing infrastructure capable of producing a wide variety of high quality arabica coffee to both domestic and international markets.

In addition to coffee production the Sertão Group, in recent years, has successfully begun breeding and selling Girolando cattle, as well as cultivating and selling corn and soybeans. The firm employs highly qualified technical assistance in each of its areas of activity, in order to ensure the quality of the products.

The Sertão Group employs approximately 135 families that reside on-site throughout the year. These families make up the core of Sertão’s permanent team and are provided with free housing of good quality, running water, electricity, milk, coffee and fruit. In addition, on-site schools with fully qualified teachers for primary and secondary education, on-site medical and dental care, soccer fields and fishing ponds for leisure time, are provided.

In an effort to ensure and promote environmentally sustainable practice, programs have been implemented to preserve springs and water sources, wildlife, forests and other vegetation, and soil. All the water used in the washing tanks and pulpers is recycled, with residues transferred to settling ponds in order to avoid excessive use of water and contamination of the surrounding environment. The husks of pulped coffee, which are rich in nutrients, are used as fertilizer and organic matter in the coffee fields.

Background to Carmo de Minas

Over the past decade, Brazil as a nation has experienced fantastic economic growth in every field, with higher purchasing power and an ever-increasing standard of living. At least 20 million people have risen above the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in a relatively few number of years. The value of labor has also increased: Brazil now has full employment and rising wages. All of this naturally affects the cost of coffee production in general, but it especially affects labor-intensive coffee (read: new processing methods with even higher costs). In some cases it is difficult to find labor at all, especially for farm work. Incentives must be strengthened in order to keep people at work within coffee. And as the world’s largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component of blends all over the world. Thus, the price paid for Brazilian coffee is a reflection of the fact that coffee from here is considered a base product. In parallel with fluctuations in world markets and in the pricing of coffee in general, the specialty coffee segment has established its own price dynamics.

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

pdf version

Fazenda Santa Lucia 8Fazenda Santa Lucia 7 Fazenda Santa Lucia 6Fazenda Santa Lucia 5Fazenda Santa Lucia 1

Farm Profile: Fazenda São Benedito

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benedito4 Name: Fazenda São Benedito Producer: Hélcio Jr. Total estate area (acre): 578 Total area planted with coffee: 126 Varietals: Yellow Bourbon, Catuaí, Mundo Novo, with Yellow and Red Bourbon planned for future planting Average Total Production (bags): 1 800 Average Pulped Natural Production: 800 Average Natural Production: 1 000

About

The São Benedito estate is owned by Hélcio Jr. and the Sertão Group, a family firm with more than 100 years history in the production and commercialization of high-quality coffee. The region is well known for its mineral water springs, perfect combination of latitude and altitude, mountainous terrain, well defined seasons and fertile soil.

Favourable climatic and growing conditions found in South Minas have resulted in an expansion of the firm’s coffee program. The Sertão Group now possess large areas planted with coffee and are constantly developing infrastructure capable of producing a wide variety of high quality arabica coffee to both domestic and international markets.

In addition to coffee production the Sertão Group, in recent years, has successfully begun breeding and selling Girolando cattle, as well as cultivating and selling corn and soybeans. The firm employs highly qualified technical assistance in each of its areas of activity, in order to ensure the quality of the products.

The Sertão Group employs approximately 135 families that reside on-site throughout the year. These families make up the core of Sertão’s permanent team and are provided with free housing of good quality, running water, electricity, milk, coffee and fruit. In addition, on-site schools with fully qualified teachers for primary and secondary education, on-site medical and dental care, soccer fields and fishing ponds for leisure time, are provided.

In an effort to ensure and promote environmentally sustainable practice, programs have been implemented to preserve springs and water sources, wildlife, forests and other vegetation, and soil. All the water used in the washing tanks and pulpers is recycled, with residues transferred to settling ponds in order to avoid excessive use of water and contamination of the surrounding environment. The husks of pulped coffee, which are rich in nutrients, are used as fertilizer and organic matter in the coffee fields.

During the 2005 Cup of Excellence competition, São Benedito won second place with a score of 92.65 points.

Background to Carmo de Minas

Over the past decade, Brazil as a nation has experienced fantastic economic growth in every field, with higher purchasing power and an ever-increasing standard of living. At least 20 million people have risen above the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in a relatively few number of years. The value of labor has also increased: Brazil now has full employment and rising wages. All of this naturally affects the cost of coffee production in general, but it especially affects labor-intensive coffee (read: new processing methods with even higher costs). In some cases it is difficult to find labor at all, especially for farm work. Incentives must be strengthened in order to keep people at work within coffee. And as the world’s largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component of blends all over the world. Thus, the price paid for Brazilian coffee is a reflection of the fact that coffee from here is considered a base product. In parallel with fluctuations in world markets and in the pricing of coffee in general, the specialty coffee segment has established its own price dynamics.

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

pdf version

Mr. Hélcio Jr. at CCS HQ

Farm Profile: Fazenda Sertão

sertao3.jpg

sertao3 Name: Fazenda Sertão Total estate area (acre): 1 976 Total area planted with coffee: 519 Varietals: Yellow Bourbon, Red Bourbon, Yellow Catuaí, Acaiá, Mundo Novo, Icatu and Catucaí Average Total Production (bags): 6 200 Average Pulped Natural Production: 2 800 Average Natural Production: 3 400

About

The Sertão estate is owned by the Sertão Group, a family firm with more than 100 years history in the production and commercialization of high-quality coffee. The Sertão Estate, located in Carmo de Minas, South Minas Gerais, was inherited by José Isidro Pereira and Nazareth Dias Pereira and is now managed by their sons and in-laws. The region is well known for its mineral water springs, perfect combination of latitude and altitude, mountainous terrain, well-defined seasons and fertile soil.

Favourable climatic and growing conditions found in South Minas have resulted in an expansion of the firm’s coffee program. The Sertão Group now possess large areas planted with coffee and are constantly developing infrastructure capable of producing a wide variety of high quality arabica coffee to both domestic and international markets.

In addition to coffee production the Sertão Group, in recent years, has successfully begun breeding and selling Girolando cattle, as well as cultivating and selling corn and soybeans. The firm employs highly qualified technical assistance in each of its areas of activity, in order to ensure the quality of the products.

The Sertão Group employs approximately 135 families that reside on-site throughout the year. These families make up the core of Sertão’s permanent team and are provided with free housing of good quality, running water, electricity, milk, coffee and fruit. In addition, on-site schools with fully qualified teachers for primary and secondary education, on-site medical and dental care, soccer fields and fishing ponds for leisure time, are provided.

In an effort to ensure and promote environmentally sustainable practice, programs have been implemented to preserve springs and water sources, wildlife, forests and other vegetation, and soil. All the water used in the washing tanks and pulpers is recycled, with residues transferred to settling ponds in order to avoid excessive use of water and contamination of the surrounding environment. The husks of pulped coffee, which are rich in nutrients, are used as fertilizer and organic matter in the coffee fields.

Background to Carmo de Minas

Over the past decade, Brazil as a nation has experienced fantastic economic growth in every field, with higher purchasing power and an ever-increasing standard of living. At least 20 million people have risen above the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in a relatively few number of years. The value of labor has also increased: Brazil now has full employment and rising wages. All of this naturally affects the cost of coffee production in general, but it especially affects labor-intensive coffee (read: new processing methods with even higher costs). In some cases it is difficult to find labor at all, especially for farm work. Incentives must be strengthened in order to keep people at work within coffee. And as the world’s largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component of blends all over the world. Thus, the price paid for Brazilian coffee is a reflection of the fact that coffee from here is considered a base product. In parallel with fluctuations in world markets and in the pricing of coffee in general, the specialty coffee segment has established its own price dynamics.

Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, over the past 10-12 years, the country has been showcasing its very best coffee and it has only been in the last 7-8 years that coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy.

Carmo is one village among twenty in the Mantiqueira region, south of the Minas Gerais county, in Sul de Minas. In the same way that Burgundy is an important name in the French world of wine, Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. Some of its distinction can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions, but as always, there are people engaged – from picking coffee cherries to processing; both crucial to the quality of the product. People make the difference.

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result, Carmo has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality can be even better, as well as the amount of the best coffee increased.

Jacques Pereira Carneiro represents the new generation in Carmo. Together with cousin Luis Paulo (who currently is president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA)), he runs the coffee export firm Carmo Coffees. These two men represent a 5th generation of coffee farmers and they collectively oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – altogether owned by their Pereira family. This family is also members of the cooperative Coca Rive, which offers its members courses on taste evaluation, distribution of fertilizer and storage facilities. Coca Rive has 400 members and is the smallest of the smallest cooperatives in the Carmo region, with its 8000 coffee farms. Previously Coca Rive worked almost exclusively with commercial coffee in this area and a few years ago it was a challenge to fill even one container (300 bags) of specialty coffee. Last year Carmo Coffees sold 150 containers of coffee over 80-points. We at CCS expect true specialty coffee from 86-points, but know that this proportion is also increasing in Carmo.

Carmo’s reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of their quality. Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production; it works hard to provide coffee from farms outside the family’s, including coffee from other districts. Pedralva, for example, is just a few miles from Carmo de Minas and many of the farms here are good, with altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level. The work now is for a few farmers to push the idea of working a little differently to achieve better quality. With higher prices in the specialty coffee segment comes the motivation to do better than before. According to Jacques, this change can be facilitated, but the first challenge is to pick a technique. On top of this are the added associated costs. Historically, the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean (stripping) during one picking and one harvesting season. Most people do this and even use partially mechanized equipment to do the job, which is more time-effective. But to get the sweetest coffee, you have to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries.

Minimum wage has increased to about $500 per month and although this is a low salary on any scale, these wages mean that the work of selective hand-picking coffee cherries represents up to 2/3 of the total cost of coffee production, even when coffee is sold at a 100% premium over commodity coffee.

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When processing coffee cherries... What happens?

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As professional coffee roasters, as professional coffee tasters, as professional baristi we often wonder: What is the relationship between the flavor attributes in the coffee beverage and what has actually happened to the cherry while processing. And beyond that: What did the coffee genotype (varietal) contribute to the flavor in the first place?

These topics are what the research work of Prof. Flávio Borem from University of Lavras in Brazil is all about. At the Collaborative Coffee Source Event in Paris Oct. 26-27 2012 he will present his groundbreaking work in this field. As you can understand, we are very excited!

CCS: We're curious! What exactly happens during natural and washed coffee drying?

Prof. Borem: In my presentation I will show that differences in the quality between natural and washed coffees during drying go beyond a simplified explanation that the sweetness of the natural coffee comes from the sweet mucilage.

CCS: Oh, Radical stuff! How about the interaction between the Genotype, the Environment, and the Processing?

Prof. Borem: Basically, I’m planning to show some results from the studies of space/time distribution of natural and pulped natural coffee quality. After that, we will be cupping samples from this study!

CCS:  Can't wait. See you in Paris!

Prof. Borem: I am very pleased to go to Paris to meet you, cupping and speaking about coffee. This is an amazing opportunity. Thank you!

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You:  Coming ?