We set out for this giant origin, both in terms of land and coffee volume in early August. This was the end of the harvest for most areas, but the best time for cupping and we certainly did plenty of that! The purpose of the trip was to visit some of our existing and potential suppliers in order to obtain a deeper understanding of their structure and to visit their processing sites, as well as personally meeting some of their producers on their farms. So, we had a lot on our agenda – in 8 days we were to visit 6 coops, 8 very different farms and cover over 1000km!
We buy various qualities from Brazil, including top quality micro lots, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certified coffee, so this trip allowed us to get a feel and deeper understanding of what they can offer. The visits to each group typically involved a presentation outlining their structure, one or two cuppings of various coffees representing the qualities they can offer, a tour of their processing mill and a visit to one or two of their farms. In turn, we also had the opportunity to share with them more about Matthew Algie, how we operate, what we are looking for in terms of coffee qualities and traceability requirements.
For many years, Brazil was mainly known for exporting large volumes of commercial grade natural coffee- both arabica and robusta. Fast forward several years and Brazil has now firmly placed itself in the coffee world as being a producer of very high-quality speciality coffees, many of which are securing top places in the cup of excellence competitions (an auction for high quality coffees). This was something that really stood out at the many cuppings we were lucky enough to be part of and we were genuinely blown away by the quality of some of these lots.
The ability to produce these lots was apparent between all the coops including the Fairtrade coops we visited, who unfairly often have the misconception of not being able to produce top grade speciality. With the increase in speciality, many of the larger commercial coops have in fact now set up a seperate function within their business to focus purely on specialty. The quality of the coffees is not surprising when you visit the farms and see first-hand the true dedication and commitment by the farmers to quality. It was great to see that at many farms there were enthusiastic younger family members who were actively involved on the farm and with aspirations to manage their own farms.
It is also clear that there is plenty of technical assistance available with all the coops having their own agronomists, some of which are also providing a soil analysis service indicating which pesticides are most suitable for their land. Technical assistance and improvements in technology have greatly improved the country’s output with their export volume almost doubling in the last 20 years and still growing!
Thanks to the superb hosts, fantastic scenery, enthusiasm and dedication to producing fantastic coffees by the farmers we visited, we couldn’t help falling in love with Brazil. We can’t wait to return and continue to explore the potential of this amazing origin and share these amazing coffees with you.