Brazil

Honestly! Why Paris?

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With all due respect, as much as Paris is the food capital of the world, it used to be a joke to even think of Paris as a coffee destination. Well that was until just a few months ago.

For two days we want to make Paris the Coffee Capital. And as a matter of fact, things are changing quickly – and Paris IS on its way to becoming a coffee destination too and that is why we want to be here now.

We are in Europe after all. And Paris is at the center of it. Geograpichally it’s obvious. It’s Convenient. Its Beautiful.

CUTTING EDGE(S)

Lets start with talking about the fringes.

Any movement usually starts as a marginal thing. Even in marginal places. Just like Seattle once was the specialty coffee hub (deserved or not) it is at least geographically not at the center of the US market. And as we know, the cutting edge coffee places were not seen in NYC until recent years.  Japan´s most influential Coffee company is in a mountain hill town, Kentaro Maruyama moved into Tokyo last week. Scandinavia is an outpost on this continent, but in specialty coffee it has become a destination.

THE EVENT. THE IDEA. PARIS 2012

For one weekend we want to share. We want to facilitate. We want to participate.

The ambition is to build a community. Many eager and competent coffee roasters around the continent have received coffees through the Collaborative. On behalf of the coffee farmers we are proud to say that we have found good homes for their lots. Now that the coffees are ”out there” we want to ask for samples of it back that we can cup together.

We are gathering a bunch of roasters – you – from all over Europe, to get together as proud craftsmen and women. We’ll talk about our craft and proudly share the coffees that we have roasted with such skill and care.  Sourced by The Collaborative, roasted by you, all together on the same table. We are organizing a cupping where you’ll get the rare opportunity to compare you roast style with other ambitious roasters and craftsmen and women of Europe.  Not for competition, but for cultural interaction and education. Other professional coffee cuppers and Baristas from all over the continent (and further) have signed up to come as well. Thus this is a unique chance to get a truly interesting feedback and discussions on the regional, company or personal culinary craft of roasting coffee. (even coffee from same farm, but roasted, thus approached with different craft. Then cup it comparatively. On the same table, the same day). For collegial interaction and fun.

We have carefully restricted the number of attendees at the event.  We want there to be time and space for interaction and access to the coffees and the people who grew them.

THE COLLABORATIVE COFFEE SOURCE

It lies in the name. The Collaborative Coffee Source´s ambition is to be a source, and we want to do it in a collaborative way. We strive for making the coffee trade a transparent interaction between equally important partners; the maker, the importer, the roaster.

We source the coffees from the origins we work with that are outstanding the every meaning of the word. It goes without saying that the cup needs to speak for itself, thus beyond that – or better said – before that, there is a place and people who we want to learn about. The collaborative model is not to take ownership of that, but share it with you – the roaster. After all, it is your coffee.

There is no coffee trader around who’s ultimate goal is to connect you directly with the Place and the People who actually made the coffee you’d be roasting. The Collaborative doesn’t stock green coffee. We find it and we make sure it finds good homes, in Europe, and further afield. If you liked one coffee in the first place, you might be willing to stick to working with a farmer who has committed himself to making awesome coffee for you.

We want to make sure that that happens. And we want to make sure that you get it in a timely fashion.

Welcome to the collaborative!

THE NEWEST CROP: SOUTHERN BRAZIL

We are presenting and cupping the freshest lots of coffees right now.

BRAZIL finished their harvest in the highest growing regions a few weeks ago, the coffee lots are resting and getting ready to be shipped. We were there to preselect the cream of the crop from the highest merited regions - and now we’ll present them to you.

BURUNDI. We are thrilled to present to you this East African gem. It is like the new promised land. A new star from the African continent, wonderfully clean and sweet-tasting. We can’t wait to share our findings and our excitement.

HARD CORE EDUCATION:

VARIETALS

All of the coffees that we are getting from Carmo de Minas in Brazil and all of the coffees from Burundi are Bourbon coffees, thus this is a unique chance to taste & talk about and attributes of Bourbon as a varietal.  To further enlighten and enhance our understanding of varietals, we have invited some of the highest merited coffee farmers on the Planet, the person who has had the fortune, curiosity and skill to work out a strategy for this is what has driven the roasting end of the industry more than anything else in the last few years.

PROCESSING NATURALS

Flavio Borem is a big deal.  He´s never shown his work in Europe before and we are flying him over to share his work with us.  His investigations at the University of Lavras in Brazil are about how processing affects the quality and the taste profile of the coffee in the cup.  This is what we have all being dying to know for so long.  And here he is to tell us.

SO WHY, AGAIN?

Because it is a unique opportunity to choose coffees you wish to purchase.  And to mingle with your European counterparts.

Because it is educational and informative thus giving you a better understanding of what is happening in the coffee world – directly from source.

Lofty ambitions? Sure, why go for less.

So we have found a sexy loft for it.

- Robert

Le Carnaval du Café: tickets on sale NOW!

That's right chaps, the wait is over.  Tickets go on sale today.

Drop whatever you are doing! Grab your wallet! Get to a computer near you! Limber up those enter-hitting fingers and GET IN THERE QUICK!

Two days in PARIS, surrounded by the speciality coffee community of Europe, cupping some of the world´s best coffee and being at the forefront of groundbreaking research are just a few clicks away...

Teaser to Borém Presentation - Le Carnaval du Café

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As mentioned in our post about the upcoming event in Paris, Flávio Borém from the University of Lavras, Brazil, will be joining us to present his groundbreaking work on natural processing and coffee quality.  This will be the first time Flávio will present his work in Europe and is a unique opportunity to put yourself at the forefront of coffee research. Because of its status as the world's largest producer of arabica, Brazil is a producing country that is always in focus. In recent years, the coffee trade has become more and more about targeting specific markets, whether micro-region, species variation or processing method.

"Natural processed" coffee represents 80-85% of all coffee exported from Brazil. But much of this coffee is disregarded as inferior in quality and taste, compared to coffee processed through other methods. Yet there are, increasingly, more and more examples of fantastic natural processed coffees. To such an extent that roasters are beginning to pay more attention to naturals and the Cup of Excellence program arranged its first naturals competition this year. We now have increasing experiential evidence that very clean and interesting naturals can be found in Brazil, but this leads to some important and fundamental questions: What factors are contributing to these superior lots? How, specifically, can producers change and control their practices in order to produce great naturals?

Over the last three years, Mr. Borém has been collecting and analyzing data about how a coffee's processing environment affects cherry development and maturation. He and his team have been looking at many different variables (e.g. whether coffee bushes are grown on the sunny or shady side of a slope; effects of different altitudes; different humidity levels in dried coffee; temperature of coffee during drying, etc.) and how these affect the final cup profile. During his presentation in Paris, he will focus on the role of processing - and some of the many factors involved - on quality and flavour. The processing of high quality naturals is a very complex endeavour - something that may seem evident due to the fact that it has been difficult to find high quality naturals - but if certain variables are taken into account, it is possible to manipulate specific factors in processing, to yield better quality coffee.

Flávio's research and the questions it raises (as well as addresses) have some very important and practical implications for the coffee industry in Brazil. For one thing, natural processing represents a potential risk to the farmer, should he/she choose to process this way. But if it's risky to produce naturals, why devote time, effort and study to it? Amongst many reasons, natural processing has a long history and tradition in Brazil, while mechanical wet processing was not common before about 20 years ago. A very practical reason for natural processing is that there exist many places where it is necessary to process in this way, due to a lack of water resources. Perhaps most importantly from a buyer's perspective, naturals can possess very good characteristics such as intense aromas, sweetness, fruity flavors and a rich mouthfeel. The list of factors and debates related to this topic are truly endless.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to hear more about and debate on this important and fascinating research! Contact info@collaborativecoffeesource.com for more details on how you can participate.

Carmo de Minas - Summary of First Visit, 2012 Season

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

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 in farms - from picking coffee cherries to processing, which are crucial to the quality of the product. People are the difference!

Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there has not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. I dare say that the area has achieved its status with a little 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 and the amount of the best coffee can be increased. More on that, but first a little aside.

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 over the poverty-line and the middle-class has grown by 40 million in, relatively, few 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! As the world's largest producer of coffee, Brazilian coffee is the main component in blends all over the world and the price 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.

Handpicking in Sao Benedito

Handpicking in Sao Benedito

We want quality coffee. People notice differences in quality and the best must be paid for accordingly. Price according to quality will allow for further differentiation in price in the coming years. Brazil's macroeconomic situation will not change for the worse, rather the contrary.

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. The boys are 5th generation coffee farmers and oversee 12 farms, with 6 processing stations - altogether known as the Pereira family. They are members of the cooperative Coca Rive which offers 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 expect true specialty coffee from 86-points but know that this proportion is also increasing.

Carmo's reputation is so well established that there is an ever-increasing demand for more coffee of this quality. But quality coffee does not just happen. Carmo Coffees works to provide coffee from farms outside the family's and 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.


Season 2012

The rain that has fallen in the ripening season has led to production that, as a whole, will be somewhat less for 2012 than in 2011. But first and foremost, this is a problem for the best coffee: there is significantly less of it.

Many areas are now being harvested in one picking that is not selective nor 100% mature, either because the cherries ripened at once, or because there is so little crop that it does not make sense to go out and pick several times. Despite this, the best coffee in Carmo is hand-picked. The first picking started in May.

Grandma "Vovo" - matriarch of the Carneiro family - is always out when the season's first harvest is initiated. Because there is often a difference between the degree of maturation of the cherries early in the season, the first pick has to be particularly selective. For botanical reasons, Bourbon ripens first and often the best cherries come from just the first picking. Other species in Carmo include Catuai, Acaia, Catucaí and Icatu.

Tasting sessions, to date, confirm that we should maintain relations with the Sao Benedito farm, which produces Sweet Bourbon coffee, both red and yellow varieties. We will also buy from several other farms in Pereira-Carneiro family including Sertao and Santa Ines, both of which are frequent Cup of Excellence winners. We're likely to take in some selections of natural-processed coffee as well, because we have secured some of the best so far this season: Red Bourbon from a plot on Sertao, with 100-year-old bush-material, very selectively picked and dried to perfection (it's not always easy to estimate how a processing of a batch of naturals will end).

Finally, we will continue the search for new coffee from skilled farmers in Pedralva and other surrounding areas.

All stages of the process

All stages of the process

Yellow Bourbon on Fazenda Sertao

Yellow Bourbon on Fazenda Sertao

Warehouse in Coca Rive

Warehouse in Coca Rive

Back in Carmo II, July 2012

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The day is over (at least the part of the day with natural light). The sun sets earlier here than in Oslo and the night is young. The rain began just after lunch and the clay-like soil on the farms make the roads slippery and almost impassable. But we still made it up to Fazenda Sao Benedito today. The farm is known from Cup of Excellence and is one of the crown jewels of Carmo de Minas. Sao Benedito grows mostly Bourbon - yellow and red and production is about 10 containers per year (i.e. about 3 000 bags). This year it is estimated that the production in Brazil will go down due to climatic conditions, but it is also because of cyclical causes. A good production year typically follows a bad; the coffee bush taking a "sabbatical" and coming back stronger next year, so to speak.

Interestingly, following Carmo de Minas district's own cycle often proves the opposite of the country's tendency, which means that a moderate production year in Brazil often means a good year in Carmo. For coffee prices, this means that when the country as a whole has low production and prices of Brazilian coffee skyrockets in the world market, Carmo experiences an extremely good year and can sell their coffee at affordable prices. Price dynamics in the specialty coffee market now exhibit more and more pricing layers than in the commodity market. It's a trend we welcome! We want to pay a good price for good coffee from a good place and from a team of good people. It's only fair!

Sao Benedito is a good place. The farm's coffee bushes are arranged smoothly around the top of a hill, one of the many hills dotting the landscape in Carmo. The terrain is more rugged than in many other coffee regions in Brazil which creates microclimates from farm to farm and even within the same farm. Research done at an agronomic university, here in Brazil, has found distinct differences in sensory attributes of natural processed coffee grown on different slopes within the same farm. Some in the coffee industry have believed this to be true for some time, but now there is evidence. Presumably one would think that coffee cherries with the longest period of development give the most interesting flavour profile but the results are opposite.

Earlier this year I participated in a blind tasting at this university and was surprised that I preferred the natural coffee coming from  coffee species with typically lower acidity and grown at low-lying areas on farms. In other words, the exact opposite of growing conditions you'd want for washed coffee. The natural I preferred was very clean with fresh fruity attributes and exhibited a far more balanced mouth feel. It was this type of coffee that won the Cup of Excellence coffee auction for the naturals category this year. Most of the winners were from Carmo de Minas, farms of Jacques' and his family, which I am here to visit now.

Visits to fazendas like Sao Benedito, Santa Ines, Sertao and many others of the family's farms date back to our very first meetings with Carmo Coffee in 2005. On tasting sessions this morning, it was particularly a Sao Benedito lot that stood out as a favourite, and we are tasting coffee from many more farms tomorrow. The main purpose of the trip is to see what they do on the farms during harvest and to learn more about how processing methods of the best lots of natural coffees lead to the great results in the cup. We want to introduce a coffee of this processing method from Brazil that is extraordinary. (Most of the coffee drunk in Norway, in industrial mixtures at least, comes from this processing method in Brazil. But it always tastes so rough and inelegant.)

Now it is evening and dinnertime. Then, a delicious espresso in the Jacques' and his wife's new coffee bar. Good Evening!

 

Back in Carmo, July 2012

Here in Brazil, south of the equator, it's winter and raining when it should be dry, not least on the coffee farms which are in the midst of harvesting coffee cherry.

Heavy rains also occurred earlier in the harvest season, a few weeks ago, so now it is estimated that production in all of Brazil will be 10-20% lower than expected. The consequences of rainfall is, firstly, that it is impractical or impossible to pick at all. The trucks do not deliver either people or cherry. In addition, rained on cherry that falls to the ground must be picked up in order not to attract harmful insects (read: Broca). Rain also means that weeds are springing up all around the coffee bushes which takes away nutrients from the soil. Finally, the rain and subsequent moisture lead to poor drying of coffee on the patio after processing.

Fair or not, today is a day of new farm visits and the following days will be used to visit the well-known and beloved - and eventually award-winning - coffee farms around the village of Carmo de Minas. But today we start, well, actually resume, contact with small farms in the neighboring district of Pedralva. There are many farms here with very good conditions for producing coffee of the same quality as in Carmo, but it takes some time to put new systems and new working practices into action.

Producers in Pedralva have watched the success of the farmers in Carmo, through their Cup of Excellence merits, and these successes are rubbing off! We bought a lovely batch of coffee from the Fazenda Furnas farm a few years ago, which was then a farm that had made its mark in the CoE. Furnas is now the centre for processing coffee cherry from several farms in the area and we are looking at the opportunity of working with several of these farms - many of which boast good coffee species and altitude - to provide greater diversity in our offerings and help the development of a new appellation. Classic coffee work.

But first: Tasting of what has been picked so far this season. Early in the season, the coffee tastes very fresh, but can provide a good indication of what we'll have in store ...

Farm Profile: Gerais

Name/Brand Name: Gerais Farm
Name of Farm Owner: Mr. Maridalto
Address (Producing Region): Chapada Diamantina Region
Coffee Growing Area (Hectares): 2,5 hectares
Annual Production: 100 bags
Processing System (Natural/Washed): Pulped Natural
Variety of Trees: Red Catucaí
Altitude (Meters): 1.300 masl
Harvest Season: June to September
Exporter: Agricafé LTDA


Special Features and History

This farm is dedicated to the production of specialty coffee and is located in Piatã (Chapada Diamantina Region). At this location, the weather is ideal for growing coffee: high altitude and enjoyable temperatures throughout the year. The coffee variety cultivated is red Catucaí. Mr. Maridalto is the producer and the farm is managed by his family and they hand-pick harvests themselves. The lots in the farm are dried in terraces, then moved to the mill warehouse. The family started the plantation in 2002.

Farm Profile: Ouro Verde

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Farm Name/Brand Name: Fazenda Ouro Verde
Name of Farm Owner: Mr. Candido Vladimir Ladeia Rosa
Address (Producing Region): Piatã - Bahia (Chapada Diamantina Region)
Farm Size (Hectares): 1150 ha
Coffee Growing Area (Hectares): 550 ha
Annual Production: 11500 bags
Processing System (Natural/Washed): Natural and Pulped Natural
Variety of Trees: Catuai
Altitude (Meters): 1120 masl
Soil: Sandy soil
Annual Rainfall: 11200 mm 1600 mm
Harvest Season: June through September
Exporter: Agricafé Ltda
Processing Mill: Coopmac - Cooperativa Mista Agropecuária Conquistense


Special Features and History

Candido Vladimir Ladeira Rosa’s father acquired Fazenda Ouro Verde at the end of the 1980s. His purpose was to invest in a property to obtain stable family income. Candido Rosa learned from his father how to take care of the farm’s coffee plantations. He provides continuous work for the families that have been working on the farm since the time his parents were the owners so that they have an income that allows them to continue living in the rural area with good living standards. Great care is exerted to produce quality coffees, from adequate preparation of the soil, to planting nursery trees, to careful processing and storage.

Cherry is picked manually into a hand-held basin. Twice a day tractors transfer cherry to the pulper area in order to prevent fermentation. Coffee is dried on terraces, where pulped coffee is spread in thin layers of 4cm and revolve approximately 20 times a day.

After drying, the lots are numbered and kept separately in a warehouse that has proper conditions for coffee storage. Mr. Rosa is always paying attention to new techniques to improve the quality of his coffees and he invests in the most good equipment in order to obtain the best final results.

Farm Profile: Cafundo

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Farm Name/Brand Name: Fazenda Cafundó
Name of Farm Owner: Mr. Pedro Santana
Address (Producing Region): Piatã - Bahia (Chapada Diamantina Region)
Farm Size (Hectares): 28 ha
Coffee Growing Area (Hectares): 5 ha
Annual Production: 200 bags
Processing System (Natural/Washed): Pulped Natural
Variety of Trees: Catuai 144
Altitude (Meters): 1360 meters
Soil: Sandy soil
Annual Rainfall: 1200 - 1600
Harvest Season: June Through September
Exporter: Agricafé Ltda
Processing Mill: Coopmac - Cooperativa Mista Agropecuária Conquistense


Special Features and History

Fazenda Cafundó was acquired by Pedro Santana from a friend in 1989, a quiet place where he wished to live together with his family. He invested in coffee cultivation, taking advantage of the 1,360 m altitude of the property lands.

The altitude and the climate alone already contribute to the coffee plantations. The soil is adequately prepared to receive the nursery trees. In addition, cherry is picked selectively, and the coffee is pulped by the wet natural system, aiding in the preservation of the coffee’s best properties.

Technical monitoring occurs periodically and soil analyses are carried out so that fertilization is made correctly. Coffee is harvested selectively; Cafundo produce Pulped Natual and Natural coffees. Leaves and green beans are separated before the drying process and the dry coffee is processed and appropriately stored in order to maintain its quality.