Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

10 Days of Cafe do Brasil, 2004

a trip to the Cerrado Quality Competition,
through Mogiana to Sul de Minas,
to the coffee port at Santos,
and all points in-between...


Sul de Minas




Sao Paulo





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Brazil 2004 Cerrado Coffee Competition, Coffee Tour

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Sao Paulo at night. I arrived after a long overnight flight on AA from Dallas. Unfortunately, the plane was packed at the 5' guy next to me had a way of taking up 4 feet of horizontal space too. Oh well - maybe next time I can upgrade. The city is amazing, huge, endless residential and business towers amongst a scattering of old tile-roofed houses. That evening we left for Uberlandia (not German - it means "land of the Udder" referring to the cattle history), and then bussed out to Patrocinio, the coffee center of Cerrado.
Next day. The view of Patrocinio from my room at Hotel Rodes. Patrocinio is a rural center, around 70,000, mostly centered around coffee. It's quiet, non-touristy, peaceful - I really liked Patrocinio. It is the home to Caccer, the cooperative association of coffee growers in the region. They are the ones who invited me as a judge for the Cerrado competition.
The main church in the square a block from the Hotel. There was a service on Monday night, which was unusual (well, for this Catholic from California).
Patrocinio also had a fancy side - it wasn't all about mud-clumped boots of local farmers and 4-H . In fact, there was an upscale side to the town - here, sassy fashion stylings in a local boutique.
Some geek posing by the sign at the Caccer office in Patrocinio.
The office at Caccer with examples of Cerrado coffee. As a collector of all things coffee, this was right up my alley. Most of these were samples of coffee that use Cerrado in them, and a lot were from Japan.
The Japanese use low quality Brazil coffees in their canned beverages, and better Cerrado coffees for their Specialty roasts. I liked Georgia Tasty the most. Isn't that a Japanese style name? You know, that Georgia ... it is near Osaka.
My favorite bag ... I guess English still has a cache, and it doesn't matter too much exactly what it says. In this case, "Coffee is rest of your heart, since the good old times ... Specialty Coffee ... Coffee is still loved in modern life." Hey, makes sense to me!
A classic cupping table at the Caccer office. This one is probably 40-50 years old and has a brass base with white marble top.
Sample cans at the office. These are the traditional type of tin "film can" used for ages in coffee. (The other style was s taller tube). These last for many years, as opposed to the paper and plastic sample trays I use. You can open up a 50 year old sample tin, and the inside is bright and shiny.
The full shelf of sample cans at the Caccer office.
The Japanese at dinner in Uberlandia I emailed Maria after this to say there was an interesting irony here. I knew I would have a language problem on this trip, since my Spanish only gets me so far with the Portuguese, and in Brazil they speak in a way that I can't extract the Spanish from the words too well ... anyway, I found myself on a bus and a plane and a dinner with over 25 Japanese who spoke no Spanish and no English (and no Portuguese). So my language problem turned out to be not Portuguese, but Japanese.
Anyway, the majority of the judging panel was from Japan. Here is Kyoko of Capital Coffee, Japan, with the man called "the Professor." He is an aviation engineer, but lectures in Japan on coffee topics. There was also 4 judges from Spain, and from the U.S. there were 3 of us.
Mmmmm... breakfast cappuccino. The next morning we had a strange combination of fresh fruit, fresh juice, fresh rolls, and ...er ... "cappuccino" in a packet. This will not do! I asked for hot water and "brewed" some Yirgacheffe I had brought just in case of such an emergency. You go on enough of these trips, you learn...
We took a side trip to the micro-region Chapadao do Ferro, to visit Fazenda Paraiso. You'll see a lot more about the Cerrado coffee cultivation technique later, and since it was late in the day when we went to Chapadao, the trip was all too brief. Ferro means ferrous, iron, referring to the red, iron-rich soils. This is a very special micro-region because it has better altitude than much of Cerrado (1200m -1300m) and different soil conditions. Why? Because it is in the caldera of an extinct volcano, the only one in all of Cerrado!
Raised drying beds, or what they call "Wind Dry" in Cerrado. I'll go into the different drying methods a bit later with pictures from another farm. The farm grows Mundo Novo and Red Catuai
The drying patio at Fazenda Paraiso. This is where they do the traditional sun-drying of parchment coffee (coffee pulped out of it's outer skin) and dry-process coffees , called naturals too, which are intact, whole coffee cherries in their skin.
In the mill at Fazenda Paraiso, the coffee husks from the natural coffees are separated in the final step. You remove the entire outer skin layer along with the inner parchment layer, at one time.
My seemingly disembodied hand, filled with the husks. You can see the lighter parchment layer and the dark outer skin in this picture.
A mechanical harvester. Cerrado coffee is grown on a high, flat plateau. This was originally a dry grassland, like the African Savanna. It lends itself to the kind of farm practices we have in the US, irrigation, fertilization, mechanization. In my mind, these are bad things. But over time I ask myself why ... even use of soil modifiers and fertilizers, done correctly with no run-off, is not so bad. I do it to my house plants. And they way they use this harvester in Brazil (multiple passes to collect only the first pickings of only ripe cherry) seems okay.

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