This year has been one of the most exciting seasons in my experience of working with Brazilian coffees, which seems strange considering the circumstances. I have been traveling to Brazil and working with coffee producers there for the past four years. When making decisions about which coffees to buy and which coffees not to buy, who to develop relationships with, and what our selection should look like, I keep coming back to the same idea which is that great coffees can be produced in Brazil. Not great coffees for Brazil, but great coffees that could stand up to any coffee from any origin when cupped or consumed side by side.
With this year’s production from our Brazilian producing partners, I have seen this idea come to fruition, completely.
The dream team
Rosimeire, Carlos & Thiago (Sitio Vargem Grande)
This team has produced some of the most interesting coffees I have cupped this year. Rosimeire and Carlos are married and own their farm, Sitio Vargem Grande. Carlos and Thiago are brothers and their mother owns a farm nearby. Thiago is an agronomy student and has been very interested in cherry fermentation experiments, he has brought this interest and knowledge to the production on both this farm and his mother’s farm. The coffees that we have had from these three have been a combination of cherry fermented naturals that have been exposed to air, cherry fermented naturals where the fermentation of the cherry is done anaerobically, and traditional natural coffees.
Thiago has also been working alongside another partner of ours, Andre from Jaguara, to learn more about drying coffee cherries in boxes where warm air is filtered through the cherry to maintain a stable temperature throughout the drying process.
Cleber Thiago Silva (Sitio Cachoeirinha)
Cleber is part of a community of producers in the Mantiquera Mountains that we have been buying some producer blends from. Cleber’s coffee always stood out from the group, and this year he has even exceeded our normal expectations. However these producers are committed to working together and supporting each other.
Cleber is also conducting cherry fermentation prior to drying the cherry and producing natural coffees. The lots we have received from Sitio Cachoeirinha have been fermented for 72 hours, some lots with anaerobic fermentation. He has also used both the patio and the drying box to dry his coffees this year.
Weder, Ivan & Rosane (Juquinha)
Fazenda Juquinha, and this brother, sister and husband team, have been the most exciting discovery in my time buying coffees from Brazil. The coffees they are able to produce from Juquinha are just so remarkably distinctive from other coffees I have cupped. They have invested in the farm and have a lot of space on raised beds for drying, along with a patio, and a mechanical dryer.
This is only the farm’s second harvest, so we believe there will continue to be great things to come from these three, and we are so proud to say we have been buying coffee from them since they began producing, and stood with them on the farm when they decided to name it after Rosane and Weder’s father, Juquinha.
Emilio Raimundo (Fazendinha)
Fazendinha was one of the farms I visited on my first trip to Brazil to buy coffee. We had bought coffee from Emilio the year before, a natural coffee that had been dried directly on the ground. I just needed so badly to visit the farm that this coffee came from. I’ll be honest here, I was a little shocked. In my mind I knew that Brazilian coffees were picked differently than in the other countries I had worked, but I was still so surprised at seeing the various levels of maturity, or rather immaturity in the cherry being dried.
Emilio and I got into a discussion about what a coffee could taste like if he only dried the ripe cherry, and of course the fact that this would cost him three times as much. With much skepticism, Emilio agreed to produce five bags of coffee this way and I guaranteed to buy it.
It was with this coffee that Emilio won a local quality competition, and the prize was a trip to visit us in Norway!
Jarbas Cleto Lopes (Sitio Bela Vista)
Jarbas’s farm is in the Mantiquera Mountains. This year he has been bringing samples of every one of his coffees to Natalia in Varginha so we can see what the quality is and what lots we are able to buy. I have also been receiving videos and pictures throughout this buying season of the work Jarbas and Natalia are doing together to make sure we get coffees from Sitio Bela Vista. Jarbas is a very loyal partner.
Rodrigo de Melo (Sitio Bela Vista & Sitio Congonhal)
There is a funny story to our history with Rodrigo and his farm Sitio Bela Vista. When I first cupped and bought coffee from Sitio Bela Vista in 2018, it was from Rodrigo’s then wife, Fernanda. However when I went to visit the farm in 2019, Rodrigo and Fernanda had now divorced and each married the partner of their best friends. So this farm became Rodrigo’s while Fernanda took ownership of another farm they had together.
When I visited Rodrigo, his whole family had gathered on the farm to sit and talk with us. He believes he is only starting and his coffee will improve, he has even built his own cupping lab on the property so that he can cup and know the quality of his own coffees.
Sitio Bela Vista by Rodrigo de Melo #2
Augusto Borges Ferreira (Capadocia)
I will never forget a conversation I had with Augusto, where he told me with complete conviction that there is no other option for Brazilian coffee producers but to produce specialty coffee. His conviction is evident in the way he manages his farm and the production of his coffees. Every year I have visited him there are new inventions in place to improve the product he produces or to make the high standards he holds himself to achievable in a more efficient and cost effective way.
He is young and smart and undeterred by the fact that he is moving completely against the grain within the context of Brazilian coffee production.
Elenir & Diquinho (Santa Lucia)
While the truth here is that neither of the two people named above are the actual owners of this farm, I feel like it is these two who are pioneering this farm’s success. Santa Lucia is owned by Antonio Garcia (father of Andre Garcia from Jaguara). However Diquinho is who I met when I first visited Santa Lucia, he is the farm manager and he is a kind soul who cares very much for all aspects of the farm and its production. Elenir is Antonio’s wife and a newer addition to this coffee community we have been building. It is only this year that she has been inspired to get involved in production, and she has shown incredible passion and motivation managing all of the experimental process at Santa Lucia, with some fantastic success.
Natalia & Andre (Jaguara)
Natalia and Andre are the joint owners of Jaguara, and this farm is the anchor in our purchasing from Brazil for two reasons. The coffees the farm produces are exceptional, and the relationship we have developed with Natalia and Andre is so in sync, they are like an extension of our sourcing team. We continue to learn a lot from each other, and we challenge each other to continue to strive for more.
This is our Brazilian coffee team, a team that we have built together over the last four years, slowly working together to produce better coffees, developing different profiles, and trying some crazy experiments. In this team we openly discuss pricing and what we are able to offer for each coffee, taking into account the effort and additional investment made in each specific lot. In this team we offer stable prices not only for small volumes of crazy profiles but also for larger volumes of ‘normal’ coffees. In this team we share our excitement for Brazil and its great potential to produce unique high quality profiles. As anybody who has spent time around me over the last two or three years can tell you, it is thanks to this team that Brazil has become my most exciting origin.