Our Head of Coffee in London, Nuno, recently spent some time in Brazil visiting our producers and experiencing the Brazilian specialty coffee industry firsthand.

We’ve been purchasing Brazilian specialty coffee direct from origin almost since day one. In that time, we’ve developed longstanding relationships with farmers and growers who produce some of the finest coffee in the world.  Our purpose when we visit origin never changes; it’s about creating a personal connection, educating ourselves and visiting farms. 

Nuno’s journey began with Kamba Coffee, an importer based in the UK. Kamba link together specialty coffee roasters around the world to quality producers in Brazil and Ethiopia. First stop is Costa Café, a facility where local producers take samples of their harvests to be evaluated. 

This is an important step for many local producers as it’s an opportunity to learn where their harvest can be improved in the future. Coffee is graded on size, number of defects, uniformity and many other factors. There are multiple scoring ranks of quality in the coffee industry — only the best lots are purchased for Costa Cafés exports. 

A site visit follows in the afternoon to the San Antônio farm in Espírito Santo do Pinhal, which is run by Patrícia Coelho. Part of a long-time coffee producing family (over 100 years!), Patrícia produces a wide variety of coffee and processes everything on site.

This is unusual for a Brazilian coffee plantation, as much of the processing throughout the country is done at third party facilities, such as Costa Café’s own dry mill. For the past few years Patricia has been working on producing strictly specialty coffee — this requires higher investment in her farm, but she can then charge a premium for the coffee she produces.

Unlike Patrícia, most producers in Brazil lack the facilities to process their own coffee. Dry mills are where dried coffee is sent for the last processing step before export. Here coffee beans are removed from the parchment layer and any dried flesh or skin. They are then sorted by density, size and cleaned of defects. Costa operate two dry mill facilities in South Minas, one for commercial grade processing, the second for specialty coffee where the higher scoring lots are processed. 

A few more processing facilities and farm visits wrapped up Nuno’s tour with Kamba. Fazenda Santana, Fazenda Japoranti, Fazenda Pedra Grande and Fazendas Irarema and Barrinha — farms that utilise a variety of mechanical and manual harvesting methods to produce their premium coffee. 

We visit Brazil as often as we can to continue building our relationships with the people behind the beans; they take so much pride in producing outstanding specialty coffee. 

Nuno finished up with Kamba and began the second half of his trip with one of Brazil’s largest specialty coffee exporters, NKG Stockler. With his guides Jorge and Neto, their first stop was to a farm that Allpress has been buying coffee from for over ten years; the Ferraz family farm. This farm is made up of multiple family producers. Each family owns seperate land, production and storage facilities, but they sell under one name. Around 80% of their production is bought by us — it truly is exceptional specialty coffee. 

The next day the team visited the beautiful Fazenda Imigrantes owned by Ricardo Beira. They were shown around by Ricardo as well as the farm manager João. This is a young farm, only in its second year of production, but they're committed to regenerating the land and are planning to have 40% of their farm as a natural reserve (Brazilian law only enforces 20% in this region). 

We’ve skipped over the delicious local wines, caipirinhas and tasty canapés that Nuno was treated to, but just like that his trip to Brazil was done. 

An opportunity to meet the people behind our coffee is incredibly special. We’ve been visiting our producers for over twenty years; we know a conversation and meeting over the cupping table is much more valuable than an email or phone call, so we’ll never pass up an opportunity to connect with our partners.

Until next time.