Last October we visited several coffee producers across two different states in Brazil. This was our first time venturing into the Brazilian landscape ourselves, a country famed for being the world’s largest producer. Prior to our trip we had worked with many memorable coffees, nonetheless what we experienced opened our eyes and awed us.
We had two aims in mind for this journey. Primarily, we were seeking excellent coffees that would be able to stand out as bright examples of Brazil’s very best produce, alongside our regular seasonal lineup. At the same time, we developed a specific aim to find coffees that would shine in milk, allowing us to continue to develop and maintain our ‘omni-roasting’ approach. With these twin aims in mind, we embarked on our most ambitious sourcing trip to date.
Our main stop on the trip was the state of Espírito Santo, a place unlike most in Brazil. In a country generally known for its large, industrial haciendas located on flatlands, Espírito Santo offers hills, high altitudes and small, family-operated farms. In recent years, we’ve featured a couple of bright coffees from here and they’ve consistently stood out. Remarkably, cup profiles here hold a promise of Ethiopian-like floral notes, red berries reminiscent of Kenyan coffees, next to more traditional nut and chocolate notes. Cupping coffees in countries of origin is always far more exciting when there is opportunity to visit farms and to ask farmers detailed questions about soil, varietals, fermentation and drying. Finally, Espírito Santo offered the possibility of identifying several high-grade micro-lots from different farms, which we are looking forward to receiving and roasting this spring.
After several days of fruitful cuppings and farm visits we headed to the state of São Paulo for a coffee festival and more cuppings. Spending a few days here visiting farms brought home just how extreme the contrasts can be across Brazilian coffee culture. Where we had previously spent time with small family-owned, handpicking operations, we now saw large, several-hundred- hectare, industrial enterprises. Some were monoculture farms that produced commercial grade coffee, while others experimented with varietals and aimed to produce high volumes of specialty grade.
In the midst of all of this variety, we were able to find some wonderful lots from across Brazil, which we’re looking forward to present to you throughout 2018. Some lots will be featured on our offer list as bright, seasonal coffees while others will be featured with a focus on their potential to shine in milk. These latter coffees can be brewed as both espresso and filter, but ultimately they are coffees that we recommend as being well-suited for espresso with milk.