Brazil Agua Preta Limited Release
- July 2019
- Written by : James McLaughlin
President / Green Coffee Buyer
Coffee farmers are constantly trying to generate more income from their land. Historically the yield—the number of sacks of coffee a farmer can harvest from one unit of land—has been the most important metric. Brazil has led the world in developing and deploying state-of- the-art plant nutrition and pruning programs to improve yield. When we held Intelligentsia’s Extraordinary Coffee Workshop in Brazil a few years ago I remember the farmers from Central America and Africa marveling at farms that produced two to five times as much coffee as they did. But yield isn’t the only way to increase income. Focusing on quality is often the most sustainable path for farmers to improve their livelihoods and reinvest in their land. Working to improve yields and quality simultaneously is even better.
This year’s Agua Preta Limited Release is an example of a Brazilian farmer singularly focused on quality but also applying state-of-the-art agricultural practices to keep yields high. It comes from the Pereira Family and their new farm, Santuario Sul.
The Pereira Family is a familiar name to anyone who enjoys our Black Cat Espresso blend, as they have been a Direct Trade partner for over 10 years. Located in the Carmo de Minas region of Minas Gerais, the family has won numerous quality awards, including the 2005 Cup of Excellence competition. Since that time, they have been vocal advocates in this mountainous region of Brazil about the importance of focusing on quality. Luiz Paulo has proven to be one of the most curious farmers we work with, devouring every crumb of information that we have about producing quality coffee. He and his father have traveled to coffee farms all over the world and religiously attended ECW over the past 10 years.
In many ways, Santuario Sul reflects everything they’ve learned about coffee quality. It is one of the most exciting new farms anywhere in Brazil, and perhaps the world. Luiz Paulo started this farm from scratch in 2014, buying an abandoned 120-hectare cow pasture. The land sits between 1,380 and 1,440 meters above sea level and gently slopes into a valley with coffee planted on three sides. Without a doubt the most exciting part of Santuario Sul are the 28 coffee varieties planted on the farm. They include the traditional Carmo de Minas varieties (Yellow and Red Bourbon) but also Geisha, Sudan Rume, SL-28, Laurina, and Ethiopian Heirloom. I’ve never seen a farm with such genetic diversity in a single place. Walking the farm is every botanist and coffee buyer’s dream!
The 60-bag lot that we are releasing is a Yellow Bourbon varietal that was processed at the wet mill as a yellow honey and was dried on raised beds. This lot represents the start of an exciting new chapter in the quality revolution taking place in Carmo de Minas, Brazil.