Agua Preta Brazil
- January 2017
- Written by : James McLaughlin
President / Green Coffee Buyer
Closing the Circle
Agua Preta is the name we give the best coffees we source each season from our Direct Trade partners in Brazil. Over the past few crop years, we have presented Agua Preta offerings from different growing regions in Brazil. Two years ago, we went north to purchase a gorgeous lot from Fazenda Progresso in Bahia’s Chapada Diamantina region. Last year, we moved southward to source a handful of stunning lots from small family farms in the mountains of Espirito Santo, a state that borders the Atlantic Ocean. This year, Agua Preta continues it southward march and returns to the Carmo de Minas region of Minas Gerais.
Through all the change in our Agua Preta lineup and the continuous expansion of our Direct Trade partner network in Brazil, there has been one constant: our work with the Dias Pereira family in Carmo de Minas. Spending time with the extended Dias Pereira family and learning about the innovations they are implementing at their nurseries, farms, and mills is without a doubt one of the highlights of my annual sourcing trip to Brazil. And 2016 was no exception.
Last year, the Dias Pereira family continued to invest in the new varietal farm it is developing with Camilo Merizalde from Colombia on over 20 hectares of meticulously managed coffee land. The varietal collection there is already impressive, but the best is yet to come. The Santuario Sur farm won’t just be the source of extraordinary new coffees, but also new research and insight on how the introduction of new coffee varieties can drive quality improvements in Carmo de Minas and beyond.
The other exciting development on the family farms in 2016 was the advent of fully washed coffee. The family upgraded one of its wet mills to produce a traditional, fully washed coffee - a standard practice in the specialty market but still a novelty among Brazil’s estates. We cupped the results of the initial trials, which produced more consistency, sweetness, and acidity and generated boundless optimism for the future of quality at Carmo.
One of the most rewarding aspects of these changes is knowing that they were catalyzed, at least in part, by Intelligentsia’s annual Extraordinary Coffee Workshop. Luiz Paulo and his son have religiously attended ECW since its inception in 2009, visiting farms and mills in El Salvador, Guatemala, Ethiopia and Costa Rica. Their thirst for knowledge has been evident over the years. When they are not scribbling observations and ideas in notebooks, they are having long conversations over dinner with other producers. Along the way, they haven’t just picked up new ideas, they have picked up partners - the family’s commercial partnership with Camilo Merizalde was developed through those ECW dinner conversations. The family’s humility and openness to learning and innovation is all the more impressive when you consider the scale of its operations: their farms produce more coffee than some countries.
This year, after cupping dozens of samples from different regions across Brazil, we selected three lots from Carmo de Minas to release under our Agua Preta mark. The first is a honey-processed Yellow Bourbon from Fazenda Sertão, owned and operated by Nazareth Dias Pereira. It delivers a maple sweetness layered with red grapes and dried apricots and a level of complexity that exemplifies the very best of what Brazilian coffees have to offer.
If there is a quality revolution underway in Brazil, then the Dias Pereira family is in the vanguard, flying the flag proudly and fearlessly leading the entire coffee sector into the fray. In 2017, our Brazil Agua Preta series celebrates the family that started it all.