Ademilson Noiman Borges
Sítio Grota Fria
In a country with around 25,000 Fair Trade growers, winning best Fair Trade coffee is no small feat, but that is exactly what Ademilson Noiman Borges did last harvest. As a participant in Casa Brasil’s Selective Harvest Project, Ademilson became the first APAS member to win best Fair Trade coffee in Brazil.
Ademilson’s family has been growing coffee in the village of Ferreiras, in the Mantiqueira de Minas region of Brazil, for nearly a century. He planted his first coffee trees in the mid-nineties. Over the past ten years, he has focused on producing high quality specialty coffees, and because of this has faced social pressure from community members, including his father, who have favored a more traditional approach that focuses more on quantity than quality. Over time, however, he has managed to overcome these pressures, steadily improving the quality of his coffee with the lessons learned from each harvest.
As part of his improvement effort, Ademilson joined APAS, the Associação dos Produtores do Alto da Serra. APAS is a Fair Trade–certified association of over 40 coffee growing families who live outside of São Gonçalo do Sapucaí in the Mantiqueira de Minas region. The organization’s goal is to unify the growers of the region and help increase their coffee quality. Growers like Ademilson are able to improve their quality using tools provided by the association, including a sample roaster and cupping equipment. APAS also provides access to a larger market, an important incentive for growers to invest in higher quality coffee. By tasting each lot, growers work to connect differences in cup quality to factors like cultivar choice as well as harvesting and processing procedures. In addition, the association provides a forum for members to discuss methods for improving coffee quality.
Ten years after joining, Ademilson is now the president of APAS. This year he participated in Casa Brasil’s Selective Harvest Project. Following the project’s guidelines of picking only ripe fruit and carefully processing and drying the coffee, Ademilson won the Fair Trade competition for the best Fair Trade coffee in Brazil. But he is not stopping these, and continues his pursuit of perfection, planting lots at higher elevations, continuing his education in coffee cupping, and continuing to invest in infrastructure to improve quality.