Orders are shipped every Monday, Thursday and Friday. Blends are roasted on Mondays and Fridays each week whilst single origins are roasted only on Wednesdays at this stage (due to batch size requirements).
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!
Historically all of the coffee at Fazenda Progresso was processed using the pulped natural method, but in 2017 Fabiano started to experiment with naturally processed coffee, and the results have been exceptional. This lot is a natural processed lot from the farm, which was carefully hand-picked by a specially trained team in August. The cherries were selected at the peak of ripeness, and then carefully dried on meticulously clean patios in the sun, and turned regularly to ensure they dried evenly. When the cherry was almost purple, the dried fruit skin and parchment was taken off with a mechanical huller at Progresso’s mill. The coffee was then rested until ready for export.
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.
“Working with something so sensitive, so changeable, involving the most varied areas of knowledge and then get to share all this with incredible people… it’s amazing. That’s why I choose coffee!” – Fabiano Borré
The Borré family takes great care to protect and preserve the ecological health of their area. Water is conserved and meteorological stations are positioned throughout the farm to optimise irrigation and ensure the trees get the right amount of water. Cascara pulp from processing is composted (along with potato wastage, which is very high in potassium and great for coffee trees!) and used to fertilise trees throughout the plantation.
In 2015, for the first time, the Borré family entered their coffee into the Cup of Excellence competition. It placed 15th—a fantastic achievement and testament to the hard work, resources, and focus that have been put into producing exceptional coffee.
This coffee is named after the Great Colombian Massif, or Macizo Colombiano, a vast mountainous area that covers part of the states of Cauca, Tolima and Huila in the West of Colombia. Part of the Andean mountain range, this area is covered in snowcapped mountains, with elevations as high as 3,500m above sea level. The region is Colombia’s richest water source and many of the country’s largest rivers are born here, including the Cauca and Magdalena Rivers. Abundant, clean water and rich volcanic soil makes this area ideal for extensive agriculture, and it is known in particular for exceptional coffee production.
This lot of Macizo Colombiano was blended from coffees produced smallholder farmers from the area around the towns of Inza, in Cauca State, and Ibagué, in Tolima State. The coffees were selected by cup quality and profile to make up this special lot.
The farms that contributed to this lot are very small – on average just 1.5 hectares in size – and are located between 1800-2000m above sea level in the high hills and valleys of the Macizo Colombiano. Coffee producers in these areas farm traditionally, and grow a mix of Colombia, Castillo and Caturra varieties. Fertilisation occurs around three times a year, usually after manual weeding, and pesticides are rarely used.
The word ‘Tolima’ comes from the local indigenous language and means a “river of snow or cloud”. The region sits on the Cordillera Central, in the middle of the three mountain ranges that provide a range of microclimates well-suited to high-quality coffee production. Coffee is the leading agricultural activity in the region, followed by beans and cattle.
The most well-known regions in Tolima for specialty coffee are Planadas and Chaparral in the south. This coffee comes from the areas surrounding Ibagué, which is further north in the state. The city is also known as the “Ciudad del Abanico” or the “city of the folding fan”, because when you look at it from the sky the rivers running from the mountains split up the crops of rice and cotton, and it looks like a beautiful handmade folding fan.
About Inza & Cauca
The municipality of Inzá is located in the corner of the Department of Cauca, bordering with Tolima and Huila and looking out to the west over the Pacific Ocean. This region has excellent growing conditions for growing high-quality coffee, with high altitudes and rich volcanic soil. The plateau also has a very stable climate year-round, thanks to its proximity to the equator and the surrounding mountains, which protect the coffee against the humidity of the Pacific and the trade winds from the South. This region is an important source of water and wildlife, in addition to being prime coffee growing land.
Coffee from both Cauca and Tolima has historically been very difficult to access due to the region’s isolation and instability. For many years this part of Colombia was under the control of Colombia’s notorious rebel group, the FARC, and as a result it was unsafe and violent. Since 2012, safe access to this region has been possible as a result of peace talks between the Colombian government and the rebels. Since this time some stunning coffees from small producers have become accessible.
How This Coffee Was Sourced
The coffee is sourced by MCM's export partners, Pergamino, who work with small producers in five different regions of Colombia; Cauca, Tolima, Nariño, Antioquia and Huila. Pergamino have actively been working to source and support coffee producers in regions where there is a high potential for quality, but that have historically not had access to specialty buyers. Through their Allied Producer program, Pergamino has done a lot to help promote commercialisation of specialty coffee throughout the regions they work in and to connect small producers to buyers who pay quality-based premiums, thereby improving the livelihood of the producing communities.
During harvest the farmers deliver small lots (around 100-150kg) of dried parchment to Pergamino’s local warehouses every 2-3 weeks. Upon delivery, a sample of the dried parchment is milled and assessed for physical attributes, including uniformity of size, presence of defects, moisture content and seed to hull ratio. If the coffee passes the physical assessment it is accepted and the farmer receives their first payment for the coffee, calculated by the weight delivered and a base rate related to the physical quality of the parchment.
The coffee is then cupped and assessed for sensory attributes. After being accepted by the local QC team the coffees are transported to Pergamino’s QC lab in Medellin, where they are further assessed by an expert team of cuppers. Each lot is carefully evaluated and, based on the cup score and profile, the coffee is sorted into different grades of quality and combined into exportable sized lots. Feedback on each lot is relayed back to the producer and after it has sold a second payment is made to the producer according to premium the coffee attracted.
The team at Pergamino cups through hundreds of small lots at their QC lab in Medellin, to select the coffees that are blended together into this special regional lot. The coffees included were chosen for their outstanding cup profile and distinct regional characteristics.
How This Coffee Was Sourced
The coffees in this lot were selectively hand-harvested, with most labour being provided by the farmers and their families. They were processed using the washed method at each farm’s ‘micro-beneficio’ (mill).
The coffee was pulped using a small manual or electric pulper, and then placed into a fermentation tank, where it was fermented for around 48 hours (depending on the weather and the farms location) and then washed using clean water from nearby rivers and streams.
It was then carefully dried (over 10–18 days) on parabolic beds, which are constructed a bit like a ‘hoop house’ greenhouse, and act to protect the coffee from the rain and prevent condensation dripping back onto the drying beans. The greenhouse are constructed out of plastic sheets and have adjustable walls to help with airflow, and temperature control to ensure the coffee can dry slowly and evenly.
Once dry, the coffee was delivered to Pergamino’s warehouse, where it was cupped and graded, and then rested in parchment until it was ready for export.
Read more about MCM's Colombian export partner Pergamino here.
The Zelaya family has been growing coffee for four generations and more than 100 years. This renowned family owns farms throughout Guatemala and grows some of only a handful of genuine ‘Antigua’ coffees (coffees grown in the Antigua valley area, bounded by three volcanoes: Agua, Acatenango and Fuego).
Finca Santa Clara is ninety hectares in size and is located on the fertile southern slopes of the Volcán de Agua, in the Antigua Valley, at 1,600–1,830 metres above sea level. The farm has been managed since 1988 by Ricardo Zelaya, the fourth generation of the Zelaya family to have produced coffee at Santa Clara.
Ricardo is a meticulous and incredibly professional farmer who is focused on producing the very best coffee he can. He manages four coffee farms in Antigua; Santa Clara, Puerta Verde, San Agustin and Juaja and also owns and manages a farm called Carrizal in New Oriente. His farms are scrupulously well-managed—from the careful selection of varietals planted, attention given to plant nutrition and pruning, to the close supervision of the wet and dry mills. Both mills are located at Santa Clara Estate and owned by Ricardo, giving him complete control over quality from picking through to export.
Ricardo is passionate about sustainability. Coffee on his farms is shade grown, which protects the plants from direct sunlight, maintains soil health, and provides an important habitat for birds and insect life. The family’s mills are also eco-friendly and feature sedimentation tanks that prevent pollution of the local river systems. All of the pulp from the mills is composted and used as an organic fertiliser for the farm. In addition, parchment from the dry mill is used for fuel to reduce the reliance on wood.
Ricardo has a loyal and dedicated team, and many of his staff have worked on the farm and with the family for generations. For instance, the Farm Administrator, Marcos Rompiche, has worked for the Zelayas for over two decades and is the third generation in his family to work the land. The Production Manager, Israel Yool, has over fifteen years experience working for the family and is the second generation to do so. Including Marcos and Israel, the farm provides work for sixty permanent employees year-round, all of whom help Ricardo manage the processing and production of his farms. The family hires an additional 250–400 individuals during the harvest to help pick and process the coffee.
Ricardo recognises that his people are his most valuable asset “Because 80% of the cost of coffee is labour—you need to depend on a lot of people. I think that if your people are earning a good salary, if they have good conditions and if they’re happy, then they’ll do a better job, and with more will.”
Every cherry at Santa Clara is selectively hand-picked and sorted before being inspected and approved by the foreman at the wet mill. The farm also hires around fifty ‘special pickers’ who have demonstrated particular dexterity and are selected to hand-harvest some of the farm’s micro-lots using their impressive attention to detail. These employees can receive more than double the minimum daily wage through picking coffee at the farm. According to Ricardo, although they are very demanding about picking practices, the majority of the seasonal workers come back year after year, which is a testament to the fair conditions and pay they receive.
On the same day that they were picked, the fully ripe cherries were washed thoroughly in the receiving tanks, and additional water was passed over them to remove any traces of dirt. They were then left in this tank overnight. Additionally, the cherries were taken through the washing channels to ensure there were no floaters, and then transferred directly to the African beds inside the greenhouse where they were turned every thirty minutes initially, and then as the beans dried out this was increased to every fifteen minutes to ensure uniform drying. Drying took around twenty-one days to reach the desired moisture level. This method of drying allows Ricardo more control over the process, enabling him to ensure the coffee is dried slowly and evenly. Once dry, the coffee is stored in parchment until it is ready for export. It is then milled at Ricardo’s dry mill which is located on the farm. The management of this meticulously run mill is overseen by a talented team who carefully monitor every stage of milling to ensure high quality expectations are met. Throughout the process, Ricardo also ensures that all organic by-products are recycled and reused.
Ricardo has a dedicated lab located on his property and a QC team focused on analysing every single lot produced on the farm. Balmer Aragón heads up the QC program and is charge of all of the roasting and cupping. He works closely with Edgar Deleon who is the assistant farm administrator, and has worked for Santa Clara for fourteen years.
In recent years, Ricardo and his daughters, Bel and Katia, have implemented several social initiatives to benefit all their employees, with the objective of supporting them and their families to improve quality of life, and gain higher job satisfaction.
Some initiatives have focused on health, with workshops for employees on basic hygiene and education around the importance of drinking filtered water. On the back of this, the Zelayas created a Ecofilter finance program, where a worker would pay for half of the filter and farm would pay out the the other half.
Another initiative focused on female empowerment. All female employees, or female family members were welcomed to workshops where they learnt new skills like sewing, cooking, traditional candy making and jewellery making. These skills provided the women with the opportunity to create an important source of income in the coffee off-season, and also helped to build a sense of community and purpose.
There are also some long-term initiatives focused on education that have been implemented. In 2011, Bel, who has a degree in Special Education, founded the Santa Clara Scholarship Fund, with the help of her sister Katia. This fund provides financial support for some of the children of the farm’s employees. Many children in Guatemala are forced to stop going to school early because the school fees, and associated costs like school uniforms, are not affordable for their families. Currently there are thirty student recipients of the Santa Clara Scholarship fund. These students receive money for tuition fees, uniforms and schoolbooks, as well as the opportunity to participate in weekly workshops that focus on important educational and leadership skills.
In addition, Ricardo set up a ‘Coffee High School’ in 2019, for people interested in pursuing a career in coffee. The two-year course (which is run on the weekends so students can maintain their full-time jobs) requires students to have completed studies up to the equivalent of Year 10 in Australia, however there is no age limit for the students. In 2019 the first cohort to commence their studies was made up of eighteen students (two of whom are from Santa Clara); this number will double to thirty-six in 2020 when the next cohort begins their first year of the course. Topics covered in the course cover everything from pruning and picking, through to wet and dry processing, and cupping. “This program is aimed at ensuring we are training the next generation of coffee professionals.” Ricardo explained.
The workers’ happiness and respect at Santa Clara was very clearly demonstrated at the Christmas party (an annual event to which all of Santa Clara’s workers and families are invited to dance and eat lots of yummy food). To show their gratitude to Ricardo and his family, the workers surprised them with a video one year, which you can watch below (we can’t encourage you to watch this enough—it will make you smile!).
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