Discovery Subscription (2021, 4) - Diversity in Brazil

Diversity in Brazil

  • As the world’s largest producer of Arabica coffees, Brazil has a highly efficient coffee growing industry.

  • Especially in certain regions, this efficiency, alongside a dry and warm climate, leads to a dominantly homogeneous flavour profile.

  • Many actors in the coffee supply chain are starting to push against this preconception, buying from new regions and encouraging experimental and innovative work in established regions.

  • The first coffee is a pulped natural Catucai from Sitio Bateia in Espirito Santo. The cool climate here leads to a juicy and crisp profile.

  • The second coffee is a natural Catuai from Sitio Sao Pedro in Minas Gerais. Here the rich and wild flavour profile is driven by an extended fermentation in tanks.

1 x coffee

Sitio Bateia - Pulped Natural Catucal (250g / 5.3oz)

2 x coffee

Sitio Bateia - Pulped Natural Catuca (250g / 5.3oz)
Sitio Sao Pedro - Natural Catuai (250g / 5.3oz)

What is happening at La Cabra

This month at La Cabra has been a very busy month for coffee buying. We have been tasting the first pre-shipment samples from many of our long-term partners, such as Primavera in Guatemela, and from some of our coffee-buying partners in Kenya and Ethiopia. We have also been continuing our exploration of new origins and projects, and look forward to sharing some of our findings with you through the subscription programme in the coming months.

Changing at a grassroots level

Although Brazil is a highly efficient producer of high-quality Arabica coffees, apart from a few cases, it has failed to fully engage the needs of the speciality coffee market in terms of diversity of characterful coffees. We are interested to see this changing at a grassroots level, and thanks to the support of our partners at Ally and Nordic Approach, are excited to share two very different examples of this emergence this month.

First coffee
Sitio Bateia - Pulped Natural Catuca

A sweet and juicy coffee

Look for: Orange, Apricot and Dark Chocolate
(250g / 8.8oz)

Sitio Bateia is located near the town of Castelo in southern Espirito Santo, Brazil. A collaboration between three producers, José Fernando Fortunato, and brothers Ederval and Edson Pires Sartori. After the harvest, they split the harvested cherry and each undertakes their own processing. This lot was processed by José, using the pulped natural method. José has worked in coffee for many years, but wasn’t able to invest in speciality coffee until he met the Sartori brothers and began to work with them on Sitio Bateia. The team have worked hard to improve their selective picking and fermentation protocols, leading to small lots of characterful coffee. Due to the very cool conditions and humidity, it is rather more difficult to dry coffees in Espirito Santo than in much of the rest of Brazil. It is for this reason that the pulped natural process is so popular here, and like many, this lot was dried in a greenhouse in order to raise the temperature and shield from rains. All of this leads to a sweet and juicy profile, one of the finest coffees we have tasted from Espirito Santo in recent years, taking us back to our first trip to this enchanting region and the exotic and varied profiles we were able to taste there together with our partners from Ally Coffee.

Second coffee
Sitio Sao Pedro - Natural Catuai

A wild edge of acidity and spice character

Look for: Mango, Fig and Cinnamon
(250g / 8.8oz)

Lourdes de Fatima Souza has worked in coffee all her life, and is now the proud matriarch of a coffee producing family. Lourdes has two sons; Carlos has a farm just the other side of the main road along with his wife, and Thiago works at Sitio Sao Pedro along with his mother. Thiago is very interested in fermentation, and has been helping to create new expressions of his mother’s coffees. He continuously experiments with different fermentation temperatures and times in small batches, before drying mechanically. This lot is a great example of this fledgling movement in Brazil, in this case sourced and supported by our partners at Nordic Approach. This lot was picked manually, aiming for a very even cherry ripeness, also unusual in efficient and machine-dominated Minas. Thiago fermented this lot for 72 hours in an open tank, not allowing the temperature to rise above 38°C before mechanically drying. This allows for a rich and sweet profile, with a wild edge of acidity and spice character. One of the more interesting lots we have tasted from Brazil recently, and one we’re happy to share with you.

This month

Shaking things up

Brazil is a hugely efficient agricultural nation, in fact agriculture contributes 10% of the nation’s GDP, and employs over 20% of its workforce. Coffee is one of the most important pieces in this puzzle; Brazil is consistently ranked first in the world in terms of total coffee production. In 2019 Brazil harvested a total of 61.6 million bags, or 35.3% of the global total, while second-placed Vietnam produced 29 million bags or 16.6% of the global total. Even more impressive is that Vietnam produces almost exclusively high yielding Robusta, the next largest Arabica growing country was Colombia at 14.3 million bags, less than a quarter of Brazil’s total. The size of the industry leads to a slightly more financially sustainable industry here than in much of the rest of the coffee world, making Brazil a hugely interesting and diverse producer of coffees. Although it is known for one rather ‘classic’ and homogeneous chocolate and nut-driven flavour profile, many new processes, varietals and even little-known regions are beginning to shake this perception. This has taken years of work by several dedicated and talented actors in the coffee chain, and we are now starting to taste the fruits of their labours. This month we are showcasing the work of two, Ally Coffee in the rather unusual region of Espirito Santo, and Nordic Approach in supporting the experimental work of several producers in the more established region of Minas Gerais.

The steep terrain of Espirito Santo

The Montanhas do Espirito Santo coffee growing region lies in the western highlands of the state of Espirito Santo. Coffee farms here are distinct from those in the more established coffee regions of Brazil in several ways. Production here more closely resembles that in other countries in South America, with small family-owned farms perched on steep mountainsides. The climate is rather cool due to the influence of the nearby Atlantic ocean, and the mountainous terrain creates many distinct microclimates, leading to perfect conditions for growing slow-maturing high quality Arabica coffees. Due to the steep terrain, most producers in Espirito Santo pick by hand, unlike those in much of the rest of the country. These conditions, alongside the varying techniques of many small scale farmers, result in distinct and characterful coffees, most of which are harvested 1-2 months later than the rest of the country. Coffees from Espirito Santo tend to have higher acidity and more distinct fresh fruit notes than many other Brazilian coffees. This month’s coffee is no different, a crisp and fresh pulped natural produced by José Fernando Fortunato.

An alernative to the ‘norm’

Minas Gerais is the main power behind the clear ‘norm’ in Brazilian coffee; chocolate and nut-driven profiles from very clean and well-processed naturals. This homogeneity makes it very difficult for producers to differentiate themselves in terms of flavour. Minas Gerais is a hugely efficient agricultural region; creating many products such as dairy, eggs and citrus fruit. This efficiency is also transferred into coffee, creating a very consistent and high quality product, but with a very characteristic flavour profile. This is not necessarily in line with the values of the speciality coffee market, paying higher prices for separation of microlots and experimentation, leading to varying and exciting character in the cup. Nordic Approach have supported Lourdes de Fatima Souza and her son Thiago in producing characterful coffees, with the wild and rich profile of this month’s coffee driven by Thiago’s experimentation in fermentation

Changing at a grassroots level

Although Brazil is a highly efficient producer of high-quality Arabica coffees, apart from a few cases, it has failed to fully engage the needs of the speciality coffee market in terms of diversity of characterful coffees. We are interested to see this changing at a grassroots level, and thanks to the support of our partners at Ally and Nordic Approach, are excited to share two very different examples of this emergence this month.

Stay bright and curious La Cabra

About Discovery

About Discovery

The opportunity to share new experiences

Our Discovery Subscription allows us the opportunity to share new experiences with you every month, taking you with us on our journey through the changing seasons of coffee. This allows you the opportunity to taste new lots from across the coffee landscape as they arrive at our roastery, when they’re fresh and in season. We strive to find the most delicious and thought-provoking coffees we can get our hands on, working together with a group of innovative and dedicated partners we have met over our years in the industry. We are inspired not only by sharing their painstakingly created raw material, but by conveying how each step of its journey has led to what you find in your cup, be it terroir, varietal, post-harvest processing, or something else entirely.

We always aim to tell a story

One of the best ways to appreciate the effect of these factors is to taste coffees side by side. Our most popular option allows you to experience two coffees every month, maybe different varietals or processes from the same farm or region, or maybe two parallel lots from producers at opposite ends of the coffee belt. We always aim to tell a story with our coffee choice, focusing on a different aspect of what we’re finding exciting in coffee right now. Sharing these experiences each month allows us to expand our coffee horizons together, and develop a shared vocabulary within both taste and preference in coffee.

We’re always happy to continue our conversation with you through our webshop portal, whether it be purely practical, or discussions about this month’s coffees. We see our role as simply a middleman between you and some of the best coffees in the world, and the people who produce them. These people inspire us, and we do our utmost to share both their coffees and their stories with the people who appreciate them most.