Frank Sinatra sang, "They grow an awful lot of coffee in Brazil." It is unquestionably true; it's the largest producer of arabica coffee and not a small amount of robusta too. Brazilian coffee is nutty, sweet, low in acidity and develops exceptional bittersweet and chocolate roast tastes. There's a long tradition of roasting Brazil in the United States. Brazil is roasted and sold as a single-origin coffee -- by region, cooperative or Fazenda -- but it is often used in blends for the sake of cost control. Brazil coffees are common in espresso, both in high-end blends and in commercial coffees like Dunkin Donuts. Even the broken fragments of beans and the dust from the dry mills is sold, ending up in some awful coffee product somewhere, most likely instant.
Fazenda Santa Ines is managed by a now fourth generation coffee family, Familia de Pereira. We've had many lots from Nazarath Dias Pereira and Jose Isidro Pereira, and this particular lot from Fazenda Santa Ines is managed by daughter in-law Samantha Junqueira. The Pereira family is responsible for the Sertao group, based around one of the the first coffee estates in Carmo de Minas (Fazenda do Sertao), now consisting of multiple properties known for producing really nice coffees as well as their commitment to the surrounding communities. Fazenda Santa Ines sits at just about 1000 meters, and this particular lot is made up of Yellow Bourbon, though they also grow Catuai, Acaia, and Mundo Nuovo. Like most of their farms, the Pereira family does a great job of separating lots which enables us to select based on quality and varietal.
A very sweet set of scents found in the ground coffee, with light roasts smelling sweet bran muffin with raisin and walnut. Dried fruits like cherry and plum also come out especially in Full City roasts, and even harbors a hint of green herb. The sweetness really builds with the addition of hot water. More baked goods are sensed in the aromatics, with cinnamon roll, and date paste, as well as a strong smell of brown sugar and marzipan on the break. This coffee cups with thick, inky body, and a dense sweetness to go along with it. Light roasts have lots of caramel flavors in the cup, a malty sweetness, and a distinct apple flavor. Much of the fruit in light roasts come off as thick, and like nectar - with flavors of peach, pear, nectarine. There's a faint walnut flavor too, that seems to be most in focus in the finish. Full City roasts retain a dark cacao sweetness that sits well with smokey flavors of roast, and a slight, apple juice-like acidity peeks through. Dark roasts will make great espresso, but the lighter end of the roast spectrum highlights this coffee's complexity.
Fazenda do Serrado is a family operated farm located in the Carmo de Minas region of Brazil. At roughly 90 acres, the farm produces a healthy amount of coffee each year and a good portion that is exported is "specialty grade" (they've placed in the Brazilian Cup of Excellence twice). It's a good sized operation - even by Brazilian standards - with most of the business overseen by the two daughters of the family. This coffee is hand-picked, not machine stripped as many farms in Brazil. The PN in the name stands for Pulp-Natural process, meaning the skin is pulped off leaving much of the mucilage intact when transferred to the drying patios. This is called Cereja Descascada in Portuguese. They grow several cultivars on the farm, but this lot of Yellow Bourbon was separated from the rest.
The dry fragrance has a mild cocoa smell to it along with a hint of dried tamarind. There's a bit of spice too, especially in dark roasts with cinnamon bark coming to mind. There's a very sweet set of scents in the wet aromatics, with a healthy dose of brown sugar and butter emanating from the crust. The break shows bittersweet chocolate with a note of coriander rounding it out. Fazenda do Serrado has a creamy, root beer note in the cup that is laced with an apple-like flavor and acidity. It's mild, but sweet and notes of almond and caramel add depth. This is a relatively clean and full-bodied cup of coffee that will perform fantastic in both brewer and espresso maker. It cups best with at least a couple days rest (48 to 72 hours).
Family run Conquista Farm has quite an operation. It's a mid size farm - just about 50 acres - and the mechanization of harvest rivals many of the larger, modern surrounding farms. A little more than 1/4 of the entire harvest is manually picked and processed, where the majority of cherry is separated from branches via a large chipper-like machine. Workers basically all but stump shrubs and feed them through this machine that separates cherry from branch, spitting the remaining wood material out the other side. A seemingly brutal procedure, we are shocked by the careful separation coffee cherry is actually subjected to. From there coffee is further sorted, and then laid out to dry for about 10 days. Jao Silva Campos bought the land with two children Fernando Silva and Luciano Jose about 15 years ago, and together they own and oversee daily operations from picking to processing, continually growing the farm to it's current size. Conquista Farm sits at a range of altitudes from about 1200 - 1400 meters, and is planted almost entirely in Catuai. Located in the Carmo de Minas region, this area is ideal for producing really nice naturally processed coffees, and along with careful preparation on the part of the the Campos family at Conquista, the fruits of their labor are literally tasted in the cup.
Right out of the grinder, this coffee has a nice smell of honey and wheat. For a natural it's on the 'mild' side of the fragrance spectrum, but nearing Full City you'll find malty sweetness, caramel, and bit of nut butter. Aromatics are bolstered when adding hot water, with brûlée crust, caramel candy, and a very subtle fruited smell. There's also a slight whiff of miso broth that comes up off the break. In the cup, the sweetness is up front and bold, with flavors of date sugar, molasses, raisin, and a bit of cooked banana. Hitting Full City brings on notes of red raspberry, green tea, and even a hint of coriander. This coffee has a unique acidity for a Brazil, that while not 'loud', it has an initial refreshing, mouth-cleansing brightness to it. It's a bodied coffee, with a weight and feel similar to whole milk. The finish has a dusty cocoa powder flavor and feel that is accompanied by brewers yeast. This coffee cups best with a couple days rest. We had good results at 24 hours, but even better at 48 and 72 hours rest.