Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

Brazil 2004 Cerrado Coffee Competition, Coffee Tour

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pousoalegre-borracharia
A favorite of mine was the Borracharia, which (from my Spanish) would seem to have something to do with drunkenness (borracho). But it actually tire repair. They have a LOT of Borracharias in Brazil, leading me to think they really sell crappy tires there if they need so much repair.
pousoalegre-painting
An object lesson painting; basically, hire a professional plumber to do the job or your giant blonde wife who wears a mini-dress will crush your skull.
pousoalegre-statue
A lost statue tries to scan the horizon of Pouso Alegre. Actually it is the founder of the inland trail, a Daniel Boone type. Of course, I can never retain the info. from these types of travel stories. That's what postcards are for...
carmo-hillsides
We arrived the next day at Tulio's farm, which is properly named Fazenda Nos Senorha de Carmo. Tulio is a fourth generation coffee farmer in the region. His brother owns the family farm that his great grandfather started. Much of the farm Tulio calls Carmo Estate was purchased piece by piece between 30-60 years ago by his father. Carmo is basically in the foothills of the Mantiqueira mountain range.
carmo-oldmill
This is the driveway to the farm house, with the older of 2 coffee mills in the background. The old mill is not equipped for specialty coffee so they process small amounts of commercial grade there.
carmo-houseporch
The porch at the Carmo farm house. It is not that old, built in the 1950s but using older techniques. To me, it appeared to be from the '20s. It is also deceptive because they reused old building materials, possibly from the original farm house on the same spot.
carmo-housedoor
Here you can see an example, of reuse. These doors, with all the old hardware intact, must be 100 years old. Tulio had stripped them intending to repaint afterward ... but the wood is so beautiful he couldn't do it.
carmo-houseroaster
They keep a small sample roaster at the farm for their own purposes. It is a typical, competent older machine. No bells and whistles here, but it will run for a very long time.
carmo-housefruittree2
Lu keeps a vegetable garden and fruit trees behind the farm house. One fruit is very unique and very Brasilian. They call it the Jaboticaba. It has purple fruit, closely resembling the grape, and having somewhat of a grape-like flavor. Pulp is white, juicy, and sweet . It is a slow-growing tree, well-known in Brasil but not ubiquitous. They are so popular that people will "rent" a tree for an hour so strangers can pick and eat all they want.
carmo-brahma
A Brahma bull at Carmo Estate. Tulio has a cattle herd and grows some Eucalyptus, but coffee is clearly the main activity. The farm is large, 1000 Hectares, with 220 planted in coffee, and 250 set aside as forest preserve. With his son Andres in charge of ecology, they are also replanting native trees in all the watershed areas. Last year they planted 5000 trees.
carmo-millview2
From the hillsides above the farm on the opposite side of the valley, this is a view of the main mill for Carmo Estate. It is not a huge mill, but a true Estate-level facility that handles all processes of the coffee preparation. This means that they have full control over the quality. Lots of farms call themselves Estate coffees, but until you have this arrangement, you are not Estate coffee.
carmo-patio1
A view of the patio at Carmo. The coffee shown is the tail end of the crop, to be sold as commercial grade lots on the internal market. Sometimes people think that a good farm produces just Specialty coffee, but Specialty grade coffee from the best farms will be just 35% of the crop. The rest of the cherry will not be properly ripe, off-size, ripen too early or late, fall to the ground during harvest, have the wrong density, etc. etc. Of course, some farms do not have the locale or ability to produce Specialty grade coffee at all.
carmo-separator
Tulio has modern steam-powered drying equipment to suppliment the patio drying, and he has new wet-mill equipment too. His favorite piece of equipment is a mechanical separator that takes the place of several traditional types of equipment. It removes green unripe cherry from the ripe red cherry, and pre-cleans the coffee fruit.
carmo-milltanks
Water recovery tanks for the demucilage system. This allows the mill to reuse the clean water, and at the end of the day the muciligous remnants are taken to a pit so that the fermenty pulp does not get into the water supply. Tulio's farm is unique for a variety of reasons. One of them is that he has attained BSCA (Brazil Specialty Coffee Association) certification. What BSCA Certification means is that the quality of his practices, the ecological aspects of the farm, the safety of all equipment, and the social conditions for employees has met BSCA standards. And let me tell you, this is like a bit of ISO, OSHA and Fair Trade with a twist of ecology rolled into one. It affects every aspect of the farm.
carmo-tulio-gasharvester
Here is something I have never seen - a gas-powered coffee picker! Basically it has a gentle vibration action to know ripe cherry off the tree onto a collection tarp, but not strong enough to knock of the unripe green cherry. Well, that's the theory, because it needs to be used correctly and Tulio has had trouble training folks to do that. He thinks a tool like this will be perfected in the very near future.
carmo-patio2
Another view of the Carmo patio from above. In the background is the mill building where the steam-heated dryers are. If there is a chance of rain, all the coffee must be taken off the patio and put into the dryers. All farms need to have mechanical drying as a backup when the sun fails them.
carmo-patio-raisedbed
Carmo also has a small amount of raised beds. Here is the semi-washed coffee (run through the demucilager) on the air-drying bed. Tulio has these covered in case of rain because he can't get this coffee off the bed quick enough. He also has someone raking the bed, which I have never seen before. I forgot to ask him why ...
carmo-naturaldry
Once again, to detail the difference in the processes, here is the Dry-Process coffee, still a complete cherry basically, drying on the patio. When the DP coffee is still moist enough, you can eat the husk/mucilage and it has a very pruney/raisiny flavor. Quite sweet actually, but you couldn't live off it.
carmo-patio-parchment
And here is the parchment coffee. This has had the outer skin removed, and some of the fruity mucilage taken off. Actually you can see by the yellowish stains on the parchment that Tulio had the water turned way down when he processed this lot, which leaves more mucilage on the parchment. I prefer the parchment to look like this, rather than fully stripping off all the fruity pulp. I think it improves the cup quality (honeyed sweetness, more body, a little more rustic cup) and gives it the qualities of a Pulped Natural cup.
carmo-groundcoffee
And here is what Tulio calls the Ground Coffee, meaning picked off the ground with sticks and leaves and all. This coffee is to be sold at the local market. An interesting note. Starbucks has a $1.20 fair trade price they supposedly pay for coffee, but through an intermediary Tulio was offered $80/bag by them. That is the price on the local market for this type of "Ground Coffee", but they wanted him to deliver his best semi-washed coffee at that price! He said no. At $80/bag the price is about .60 per LB, half their presumed "fair price"! Now, back to this ugly coffee- if they wanted it for $80/bag that would have been fine, because that is all its worth, local or not.

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