There is a lot of research into different varieties from national universities and institutes within Brazil
There is a lot of research into different varieties from national universities and institutes within Brazil, they are advising which varieties are best suited to each growing region. As farms are generally large scale, research is meant to improve yield, quality and resilience to diseases, with the purpose of developing new varieties. Most producers are growing a number of varieties, and are separating their farms by section where they grow specific varieties. The most commonly seen varieties in Brazil are Mundo Novo, Acai, Red Catuai, Yellow Obata, Red Obata, Topazio, Yellow Icatu, Red Icatu, Catucai, Red and Yellow Caturra, Yellow Bourbon, Red Bourbon, Arara.
Coffee is grown and agronomically managed in different ways depending on the kind of producer, size and intention to produce quality. There is a lot of access to knowledge on agronomy for Brazilian producers, sometimes this is valuable and sometimes it is misguided. If producers want to improve their production they have access to the tools to do so, the biggest limitation being the availability of finances to invest.
Cost of production in Brazil has risen substantially in the last years, due to general cost of living increases and global events. Labour being one of the most costly parts of producing coffees, while on flat or larger farms mechanical picking is a viable option. For smaller or farms situated on hilly terrain this is not possible and farmers have to optimize capturing as much of the harvest as possible with limited resources for picking. It is common in Brazil to see cherry of all sorts and colours in the coffee picked and drying, the common belief in the industry internally is that this will be sorted out through the milling process. The reality is, that it is just too expensive to pick only ripe cherries for the prices that Brazilian coffees are sold at in the market.We are working with producers to do some lots with selective picking, and while we undoubtedly see a difference in the cup the producers report a difference in cost of 3 times that of standard picking procedures.
We are focussed on Natural coffees, and additional experimental preparations. Brazil is processing coffees as washed, pulped natural and natural, with the majority of the volumes being natural.
Historically in Brazil the flowering has been very uniform and this has allowed Brazilian producers to pick mechanically or to pick everything in one go and better manage the costs of picking. In recent years the change in climate and the variations from year to year have been making this more difficult, and means that there is more unripe and overripe cherries mixed in with the ripe fruit. The belief in Brazil is that these coffees are cleaned up in the after production processing, in the mill.
This is a challenge though because we see the effect this has on quality.
Drying in Brazil is almost entirely done on concrete patios, in some cases where a producer has a very simple set up, Natural coffees can even be found to be being dried directly on the ground. We are working with some producers who use both patio and raised African beds, and this isa well discussed topic among us.
In Minas Gerais at the time when a lot of the coffees are drying the daytime temperature can reach highs of around 25 degrees celsius, but both in the evening and morning it can be very cold. Some of our partners argue that while the raised beds allow for aeration the patios absorb the heat from the day and carry this into the cold temperatures of the night and early morning not allowing the coffee to drop in temperature to the same extent as the raised African beds. We have not done any experiments, nor had any experience to confirm or deny such a claim!