Saturday, June 5, 2010

Brazillian coffee from the prespective of a Domincan farmer

So I just spent a week in Brazil. I want to be honest and write about my experience without taking up 10 minutes of your time. Dallis Brothers Coffee owns a "small" coffee farm in Brazil. "Small" in Brazil is about 3000 hectares total and 1000 hectares of coffee. I sell their coffee here in the Southeast. Brazil is serious about coffee. The farms are not: happen stance with mixed variety plantings, irregular pruning methods, total dependence on weather, general lack of knowledge of soil and yields, like I've seen in the Dominican Republic. Brazil does use mechanical picking. Brazil does use full sun coffee. Brazil does strip pick. They even use mechanical pruning in some cases.

Is this bad? No. This is a good thing. Before you tell me about small farmers and their families and the virtues of shade, remember that I am a coffee farmer.

First, some of the coffee growing regions are so far from the equator and at 1000 meters altitude, the trees would barely produce WITH shade. Shade would also not allow mechanical picking, which some would say doesn't allow for quality. I disagree. If coffee is mechanically picked then mechanically cleaned, floated in water, then size sorted about 4 times, I'm pretty sure there is another float, then the fully demuscilaged and soaked (for the washed). The result is that from one picking up to 5 different PROCESSES are yielded. Because the farm I visited had variety selections and was divided into about 100 micro-regions each plot of land in production is then kept separate through drying. We were able to cup 8 coffees coming out of the driers all the same Yellow Bourbon variety and process. Lastly, after further sorting in the dry mill, those coffees would clean up beautifully. Hence mechanical processes can yield wonderful coffees. Even a good hand picking requires 10 to 25% of the defects to be sorted out during dry milling!

The farm I visited had patio drying, mechanical drying, resting and milling all on site. The system was very very impressive. All the pictures are from the wet mill at our (Dallis) farm.

I had an absolute blast with my new co-workers at Dallis. We laughed so much I'm pretty sure that I pulled a muscle in my shoulder from laughing. The food in Brazil was cow centric with plenty of beans and rice. So you can imagine I was a huge fan.
The cafe experiences in Sao Paulo were incredible. It was a complete full service I like I haven't experienced before. Each espresso was ground to order and I was waited on by a server. The espresso came with a shot glass of soda water and a small mildly sweet meringue. Again, it was a fully thought out process.

I left feeling like Brazil is the future of coffee. They have systems that make money. And those systems are closely monitored. The cafe experiences were delightful and the coffee solid. How long can farmers in Central America eek out a living on next to nothing while surviving on local credit? If the scale and financing was there Central America would change overnight to the systems I saw there.

So there. I thank you for your 6 minutes. If you have particular questions, please post them here. I will be happy to respond.

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