June 2017 Newsletter
They grow an awful lot of coffee in Brazil. Many people know this as
sort of a background fact or something that can pop up during pub
trivia nights, but most people don't realise just how much coffee an
"awful lot" represents. In any given year between a quarter and a
third of all the coffee produced worldwide comes from Brazil.
This is only possible because Brazil is a modern agribusiness
country and the coffee industry is highly mechanised. Beginning with
propagating the seeds and planting the coffee bushes in rows which
very much resemble modern vineyards, complete with irrigation and
suspension wires, even coffee cherry maturation is controlled by
This allows for the mechanical harvesting, processing and sorting of
the ripe coffee cherry. The popular image of lowly paid workers and
farmers laboriously picking only ripe cherries simply doesn't apply
to most of the coffee produced in Brazil. Instead, huge mechanical
harvesters track slowly down kilometre long rows of coffee bushes,
taking almost every coffee cherry as they go.
When farm sizes are measured in square kilometres rather than
hectares this is realistically the only way to do it. Just as
processing the sheer volume of coffee involved requires much use of
robotics, mechanical engineering, sensors and computers. The results
are stunning ... this year's finished crop is estimated at around
3,000,000,000 kg (that's 3 billion kg!) which, for comparison, is
about the same tonnage as the wheat produced here.
The downside of all this mechanised production is that the flavour
of Brazilian coffees tend to be fairly homogenous, with only minor
variations between growing areas and crop years, making it a cheap,
mass produced item. To overcome this the Brazil Specialty Coffee
Association was formed in 1991, with the goal of identifying and
improving the quality (and prices) of Brazilian coffees.
The BSCA introduced competitive cupping competitions followed by
auctions of the coffees involved. This was the origin of the Cup of
Excellence auction process now supported by many other coffee
producing countries. Over the years we've managed to acquire several
COE placegetters, although never a Number One.
The competition idea has become widespread in Brazil, to the point
where the three major coffee growing regions hold their own
contests. Which brings us to this month's special coffee:
Brazil Sao Silvestre
The Fazenda Sao Silvestre Yellow Catuai was the winner of the 2016
"Best Coffee of Cerrado" competition. It has a rich front palate
with a hint of fruit acid, cacao and vanilla mid palate and a malty
finish, all combining with an intensity rarely seen in Brazilian
This coffee would normally be unavailable or a lot more expensive,
but fortunately we have been able to get it as a "Farm Gate" coffee,
purchased direct from the farm. The farming family involved, the
Andrade Bros., have been growing coffee in Brazil since 1901. They
obviously know a bit about it, and have kept up with the innovation
needed to survive and prosper.
And finally, a quick note: Monday 12th June 2017 is a public holiday
in Victoria, so orders from Friday morning to Monday evening will be
shipped Tuesday 13th. For some reason Queen's Birthday and Melbourne
Cup Day get the most delayed shipping complaints.
Until next month