Agua Preta Brazil Single Origin Espresso
- March 2018
- Written by : James McLaughlin
President / Green Coffee Buyer
Meaningful collaboration between a coffee farmer and a roaster is still a relatively new concept. Farmers have spent years — sometimes generations — perfecting their agricultural and wet-milling practices to take into account the climate and geography of the regions in which they live, as well as their personal experiences. Buyers, on the other hand, travel to farms all over the world. We see dramatically different growing and processing systems, and taste the ways the differences affect flavor.
We have worked for more than a decade to foster exchanges between growers in our Direct Trade network. Today, we are seeing more and more interest among farmers and roasters in sharing and learning from one another. But this only happens when there is a level of trust that develops over years of working together and treating each other as partners. This Agua Preta single-origin espresso is another example of that spirit of collaboration.
The Pereira family is familiar to anyone who enjoys our Black Cat Espresso blend — it has been an Intelligentsia Direct Trade partner for over 10 years. Located in the Carmo de Minas region of Minas Gerais, its 74-hectare Santa Inês farm has won numerous quality awards, including the 2005 Cup of Excellence (COE) competition. But instead of resting on its reputation for success, the Pereira family has been busy innovating and renewing its claim to leadership in Brazil’s coffee sector.
During our 2015 Extraordinary Coffee Workshop in Guatemala, we visited our partners at another COE-winning farm, Finca La Soledad. On the bus ride there, I was sitting next to the folks who export the Pereira family coffees, Luiz Paulo Filho and his son, of Carmo Coffees. I was asking why so few growers in Brazil were producing fully washed coffees. We discussed the merits of fully washed versus the pulped natural coffees so common in Brazil, and the effect that those processes have on the acidity and flavor of a coffee. During our visit to La Soledad and several other Guatemalan farms, the father-and-son duo started hatching a plan to produce fully washed coffee.
Over the past two years, the Pereira family converted a wet mill to produce only fully washed coffees, first as a pilot test then on a larger scale. The early results, including this single-origin espresso lot, are incredibly promising! Having played some small part in their decision to test a new processing method is rewarding, but the credit for this lot goes to the Pereira family, whose continuous pursuit of quality keeps it on the forefront of change.
From Intelligentsia Quality Control and Roasting Manager Sam Sabori:
Brazil has been the backbone of our Black Cat Classic espresso since the project’s inception. The dense, resonant sugars in every lot of Brazil we select provide us with dynamic coffees that are approachable as standalone shots and perfect for pairing with milk. This particular lot stood out among our Retail Education team because of the abundance of positive flavor characteristics. The most common flavor notes we found were dates, orange, and butterscotch. This coffee is dense and wants to be explored, so don’t feel shy when pushing this coffee towards higher extraction numbers.