Coffee in Brazil is a sophisticated, pace-setting industry. It’s sort of like corn farming in Iowa – it’s highly industrialized, employs an incredible amount of people, and while maintaining a good reputation, its taste qualities have become quite homogenized. Brazil produces more coffee than any other nation in the world. The size of its economy whips the world coffee market around like a rag doll. Earlier this year, when drought threatened Brazil, the market price for coffee soared to a 2-year high. Since most specialty coffee is purchased at a differential above market price, this dominating country affects our prices, too.
Even though much of Brazil’s coffee export is fairly homogenized, there are welcome and delicious contradictions being exported by quality-minded farms. Earlier this year, while exploring coffee options for the United States Barista Championship, we looked into Brazil microlots. Many espresso blends have a Brazilian base because of the country’s reputation for producing sweet, heavy-bodied coffees without intense acidity. While tasting samples, we came across a lot of natural-processed Yellow Catuai from Fazenda Ressaca in Brazil’s
Alta Mogiana region. We couldn’t get this lot in time for competition, but we were so excited about its sweet blend of nutty and baked notes that we brought it in anyway.
This lot from Ressaca stepped outside the homogenized profile of most Brazilian coffees because of the guided encouragement of our importer, Mercanta, and the exporter in Brazil, Bourbon Specialty. Together, they applauded Fazenda Ressaca’s owner, Orlando Beloti, for hand-picking cherries when ripe and separating them by variety. Then, they encouraged him to construct raised drying beds to help evenly dry the premium cherries. The quality of this year’s crop is a direct result of these intentional improvements.
Next year, he will harvest Yellow Bourbon cherries for the first time, which he planted on the highest point of his farm with the guidance of Bourbon Specialty.
At Blueprint, we try to identify coffees that go beyond ordinary. With his improvements to picking and processing techniques, Mr. Beloti was able to earn far more than market price for his coffee. We believe the improved taste of the coffee justifies this price. Bourbon Specialty describes Mr. Beloti and his wife as a “very kind and meticulous couple.” We aim to emulate these qualities as we roast and prepare this coffee for you.
**Photo provided by Mercanta