Country: Brazil State: Bahia Region: Chapada Diamantina Town: Mucugê Altitude: 1,150m above sea level Variety: Catuaí Processing: Natural Owner: Borré Family Awards: Cup of Excellence 2015 #15 Sourced Through: Melbourne Coffee Merchants ---
Fazenda Progresso is a beautiful farm nestled in the Chapada Diamatina mountain range in the heart of Bahia. The farm is surrounded by the Chapada Diamantina National Park, known for its mountainous cliff formations (Chapada) and 19th century diamond mining (Diamantina).
The history of Fazenda Progresso dates back to 1984, when the Borré family migrated from southern Brazil to the northeast and purchased some land in the municipality of Ibicoara, near the town of Mucugê. In the early years, the family tried growing crops such as soybeans, wheat, and English potatoes. The potatoes turned out to be an incredibly successful crop, stimulating investments and making the family one of the largest producers of potatoes in Brazil!
In 2005, the Borré family sought to diversify the activities on their land, and so began to focus on coffee. As MCM learnt when they first met the family, when they commit to a new project, they seek to do it to the very highest possible standard. Their work with coffee is no exception. The family’s commitment to producing exceptional coffee has been unwavering over the last decade. They have sought advice from some of the most respected professionals in the field, including Silvio Leite, founder of the Cup of Excellence and president of the Brazil Specialty Coffee Association, with 30 years’ experience in coffee grading, tasting, and quality control.
The Borré family has invested heavily to ensure that they have the very best infrastructure to process coffee, which allows them to control quality every step of the way, from picking right through to export. They have a dedicated quality control lab with a talented cupping team headed up by Ednaldo Nascimento (AKA ‘Gandula’—nicknamed after the boy that replaces the ball during a soccer match)! Gandula and his team assess every lot of coffee produced and ensure that the quality is the very best it can be.
The Borrés are very hands-on in their approach to managing the farm. They are extremely professional in the way they conduct their business, and they take great care to create an excellent work environment for their staff. Throughout the year, there are around 200 permanent staff members on the farm, and this number grows to 650 during the harvest. Many of these harvest workers return every year, and all are provided with daily bus transportation and food.
In total, 700 hectares of the property are dedicated to coffee; this land is divided up into different plots, which are processed separately. Over time, the family has worked out the optimum way to plant coffee trees in order to maximise productivity, with 50 centimetres between each tree and three metres between each row of trees. This year we have purchased coffee from four different plots on the property; each is extremely unique in its profile, and all are exceptional!
The Borré family business has always been managed and directed by family members and is now in its third generation of operation. Fabiano Borré looks after everything to do with the coffee side of the business. He is young, focused and very motivated to produce the very best coffee he can. You can read an interview with Fabiano Borré here.
This coffee was produced by Carmela Aduviri from Copacabana, a small and remote settlement located 180 kilometres from La Paz in the heart of the Caranavi province. This region is the epicentre for specialty coffee production in Bolivia, with incredibly high altitudes, rich soil, and wide daily temperature ranges providing the perfect conditions for exceptional coffee.
The inhabitants of Copacabana first began farming coffee around 35 years ago. Farms here are small and traditional. Almost all work is carried out by the farm's owners and their extended families, with a handful of temporary workers taken on to help out during harvest. All of the producers at Copacabana were born into the Aymara, an ancient indigenous group which lived on the Altiplano (a vast plateau of the central Andes that stretches from southern Peru to Bolivia and into northern Chile and Argentina). The region was known for the world’s highest lake, called Titicaca, and when their families moved to Caranavi, they named their ‘colony’, or settlement, Copacabana.
Carmela has worked in coffee for fourty years while raising eight children. Her farm, “Carmelita”, is about 2 hectares in size, and is located at an altitude of 1,400 to 1,550 metres above sea level. Today Carmela manages the farm with her son, and together they have worked incredibly hard on improving and producing the best quality coffee they can. They grow a mix of Caturra and Catuaí variety trees on their farm, which grow in a rich clay soil under the protective shade of native forest trees, whose heavy leaf fall creates a natural mulch fertiliser, and whose canopy provides an important habitat for the many bird and insect species in the area.
The families who live in Copacabana, including the Aduviri family, used to depend on the local market to sell their coffee, meaning low prices and little reliability. Now they selectively pick their coffee cherries and are able to sell their top-grade coffees for substantially higher prices to MCM's partners at Agricafe, which processes specialty lots at its Buena Vista wet mill which is located in Caranavi.
The first of its kind in the country, the Sol de la Manaña program is aimed at sharing knowledge and technical assistance with local producers to create better quality coffees in higher quantities. By doing so Agricafe hopes that coffee production can be a viable and sustainable crop for producers, like Carmela, in the region for many years to come.
After the coffee was delivered, it was placed into a floatation tank and all floaters were removed. The whole cherries were then dried on on raised beds in the sun and turned turned regularly to ensure it dried evenly. The drying was then finished off at a very low temperature in a stationary drier. The coffee was then transported to La Paz where it was rested, and then milled at the Rodriguez family’s brand new dry mill. At the mill, the coffee was carefully screened again by machines and also by hand to remove any defects.
Carmela worked hard to collect and process the cherries for this special micro lot and carefully hand polished all of the cherries before delivering them to the mill! A whole lot of love and hard work has gone into this coffee.. we hope you enjoy it!
Read about the Sol de la Mañana program here and Pedro Rodgriguez here and about Bolivian coffee more generally here.
This wonderful coffee is produced by Ethiopian exporter GnF at their Konga Sede washing station in the heart of Yirgacheffe, just a couple of miles away from the town that gave name to this world-renowned coffee. GnF is the husband and wife team of Gizaw (pictured) and Frehiwot Alemayehu who own three washing stations. The Konga station is managed by Yirgalen Melid who has been working there for almost 20 years; a producer himself, he coordinates the arrivals of coffee during the harvest as well as the processing of the coffee according to the strict GnF quality guidelines.
More than 400 farmers (known as 'outgrowers') deliver their fresh coffee cherries to the station on the same day they are picked. The farms, small in size, are situated at an altitude between 1800 and 2000 meters above sea level. The total annual production is of around 150 tonnes and the predominant Arabica variety planted is known in the area as 'Weleso Gurume'.
Outgrowers are paid their first installment on the spot and many times they stay around to overlook how their coffee is processed. Then during the offseason, they are paid the balance of the agreed price. This is not a condition imposed by GnF but a mutual arrangement with the farmers to help them plan their domestic finances. They do not have to go through the ECX (Ethiopian Commodity Exchange) but the outturn quality test is of the same standard. The additional transport expenses are saved by the outgrowers improving their bottom line revenue.
San Jerónimo Miramar (Honey) - Guatemala
Orange blossom honey and almond praline.
Farm: San Jerónimo Miramar Producer: The Bressani Family Country: Guatemala Region: Atitlan Elevation: 1,500–1,700 masl Variety: Catuaí Processing: Honey Sourced Through: Coffee Bird ---
At the turn of the century, (1880s) Mr Bressani moved from Parma, Italy to the US in search of work and a better life. He left his pregnant wife behind. When he arrived to the United States he met with the only banker who provided loans to immigrants. This man was the future founder of Bank of America. Whilst he couldn’t help Mr Bressani, he found him work building the tunnels for the railroad in Guatemala, which is how Mr Bressani moved to Guatemala.
In the 1940s, Mr Bressani began to manage a farm, called San Jerónimo Miramar, which was located between Patulul and San Lucas Tolimán. At the time, the farm was owned by a German Jewish man. Shortly after, Guatemala declared war on Germany. Guatemala expropriated land away from all Germans and began to send them either back to Germany or to internment camps in Texas.
The owner of the SJM approached Giorgio’s great-grandfather to see if he would buy the land from him. He replied that he couldn’t afford it. Once the neighbour’s farm was expropriated, the owner of SJM approached the grandfather again and said “I’m going to give you an offer you can’t refuse.” “Give me the profits from the coffee for the next 5 years, and the farm is yours.” Mr Bressani accepted. With all the earnings from the coffee going to pay off the farm, Mr Bressani bought a few cows, and sold milk locally.
However, in the 1950’s, the US government donated powdered milk to Guatemala, and all dairy farmers went out of business over night. Fortunately, due to Mr Bressani’s Italian origins, his cousin knew how to make cheese. Whilst at times the dairy operation has subsidised the coffee activities, the coffee provides work for 500 families. It is with this job creation in mind that San Jerónimo Miramar desires to make coffee a profitable activity, to support the local families.
There are so many layers to the San Jerónimo Miramar (SJM) story. Behind this beautiful family and coffee lie the creators of the up-cycled denim bag that Coffee Bird adopted. They have a passion for nature, the farm, and a priority to preserve the integrity of the soil. Behind this passion is a deep rooted love for each other, the land and the people that make it happen.
The primary activity of the farm is dairy, and coffee production has been subsidised by the dairy operations. For years, the farm sold into a local exporter and depended on the C-market. Their venture into specialty coffee began in 2014, after leaving a meeting with a local exporter, who had delivered devastating news of lower prices. After seeing the face of disappointment on his dad’s face, Giorgio convinced his dad not to sell the coffee to this exporter, and promised him they would find another way. Meanwhile his sister, Gina, was in university in the US. She approached a local roaster in town with a sample. The roaster loved the coffee, and agreed to buy it. This was their gateway into specialty. By applying their high level of detailed record keeping and controls from the dairy operation, they quickly optimised their quality. They are constantly adjusting and listening to what nature tells them, and adapting accordingly. Mr Arnoldo is responsible for the coffee operations.