Matas de Minas
From Lavras we headed north to Manhuaçu, the major coffee trading center of the Matas de Minas Coffee Region. As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, although this region is historically known in Brazil for its low-quality coffee, within the past few years it has been gaining a reputation for also producing some very high quality and interesting specialty coffees. This is due to increased infrastructure both in the farms/co-ops and in the region in general, the dissemination of post-harvest knowledge including the pulped-natural method, and the rise of a new breed of coffee producer focused on quality. Producers from this region will tell you that there have always been great coffees here, but brokers sold them under the “Sul de Minas” moniker. Matas de Minas coffees have won several national contests, including the Cup of Excellence, and there are many treasures to be found here. The increased altitude provides a wonderful acidity and fruit flavor to the coffees both in the southern part of this region (one of our favorites is Serra do Boné in the Araponga micro-region), and here around the Serra do Caparaó.
When Dr. Flavio Borém came for a series of classes Casa Brasil put on in Texas last fall, he brought with him an incredibly clean and flavorful naturally processed coffee with papaya fruit flavor, and accentuated acidity. The origin of this coffee, he said, was a new Fair Trade and Organic Certified co-op near Manhuaçu called Coorpol. Upon my visit to Lavras he again mentioned this co-op and we phoned Paulinho to see if he could make some time. He could, and we drove well into the night to meet Paulinho and Julio the next morning at the Coorpol office in São Sebastião do Sacramento, around 45 minutes outside of Manhuaçu. Over a cafezinho, we spoke a little about the co-op, the region, organic coffee production, and Casa Brasil and our Direct Trade model. After roasting some coffee for cupping later in the day, we made the trip north to the farm Sitio Vista Feliz, a new member of the Coorpol Co-op and one that Paulinho and Julio have found extraordinary coffees.
Sítio Vista Feliz
Even though we arrived two hours late, a wonderful lunch awaited us on the wood-burning stove. After lunch, Vadinho took us to the patio where he had a lot of pulped natural and accompanying overripe (boia) and immature (verde) drying, and then up to his field. There was a government quality initiative several years ago that emphasized the quality of shade-grown coffee, and Vadinho implemented the program wholeheartedly. Similarly, it is rare to find a small producer that produces pulped-natural coffee on-site, and this too is a testament to Vadinho’s desire to produce the best quality possible. Marcelo recorded several interviews with Vadinho and his family, and hopefully those will be available soon. Lisi was entertained by Felipe and Wagner as we spent several hours enjoying Sitio Vista Feliz. I hope you enjoy the pictures below, and that the kindness of both Paulinho/Julio as well as Vadinho and his family comes through.