Quality that would impress even the best commercial buyer
We recognised that although roasters buy a lot of Brazil many were buying untraceable and pretty average qualities. We know there is a firm place in the market for these coffees but wanted to offer something unique for Brazil, good coffees at good prices and exceptional coffees that would surprise and surpass the market’s expectations and understanding of Brazilian coffee.
We have done this by focussing on a few farmers and remaining committed to developing with them, though there are occasionally some surprises that we just can't resist. We have focussed on two things in Brazil; natural or process-driven coffees, and in the south of the state of Minas Gerais.
What is commonly known is that Brazil has mechanised production and that certainly extends to picking. With many big Brazilian farms in the plateaus, they are able to easily use mechanical pickers instead of manual labor. In addition to this, most of the production is picked and sorting is only done in the post-harvest activities.
While we work with coffee picked in this way, as it is what allows producers to offer coffees in the market at a price that is what most roasters are willing to pay, we also work with producers doing handpicking and selective picking. This is where they are careful to pick only the ripe cherry and to sort the coffee before drying. We have seen this make a considerable difference in the cup. Selective picking costs producers up to three times as much as mechanical non-selective picking, which is the main reason why some of our Brazilian coffees are at a higher price.
We have chosen to focus on natural coffees from Brazil. Here the processing is generally straight from picking to drying. There are some exceptions where producers are sorting after picking or doing some form of fermentation prior to drying. In some instances, we have bought coffees that are pulped natural, in this case, the cherries are pulped, the skin and the flesh of the fruit are removed but the mucilage is left on the parchment and the coffee is dried this way.
In traditional natural coffees, the cherries are dried whole and fermentation is taking place inside the cherry. Similarly in pulped natural coffee, the parchment is fermenting as it dries with the mucilage. However some of the lots we are buying are not so traditional, producers can allow fermentation before drying the coffee. This can be done in bags, or even in a temperature monitored environment.
Most coffees in Brazil are dried on concrete patios and mechanically in Guardiola's. We work with producers who dry their coffees on patios, in a box with warm air, and on African beds. Many are using the Guardiola, carefully to stabilize and assist with the other drying technique they are using.