Sul de Minas (South of Minas Gerais) is one of the first coffee producing areas in Brazil. In 2019 we visited the 800 hectares farm “Fazenda do Salto” which has a long history that goes back 100 years ago. When you think of a classic, traditional Brazilian coffee farm, this is the role model, with rolling meadows of coffee as far as your eye can reach. Otávio Reis is the 5th generation and three generations of the family currently manage this farm together. Both Otávio’s parents are centenary on the coffee business and it is inevitable that coffee is in his blood, already before he was even born.
The name of the farm is related to the other passion of the family namely horses. ‘Salto’ means ‘Jump’ in Portuguese and the family achieved many prices in competitions. During our visit we had the opportunity to ride the “Mangalarga Marchador” horses to explore the farm, to see how the harvesting machines harvest the coffee plants during the night. The same machines we had the chance to drive during the day!
The traditional Fazenda Do Salto give an insight in the old traditions, although the farm is run like any modern company. This solid and extremely organised and structured farm uses all the experience from generation to generation, and is highly mechanized for producing high quality coffee. All the hard work have resulted in the UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certificates for over more than 15 years now.
The farm is a member of BSCA – Brazil Specialty Coffee Association. Many times their coffees have been finalists in regional competitions and in the Cup of Excellence as well. Otávio has now started to experiment and use other processing methods for specialty coffee then a few years ago. We look forward to seeing the results.
During the crop 40 out of total 90 workers are on the farm permanently. They work on administration and taking care of the coffee plants year round, with different responsibilities. About 80% of them have lived their whole life on the farm. They live in well-constructed houses, get opportunities for education and their children have access to school. If they reach the age and if they are willing to, they have the opportunity to work on the farm as well.
After interviewing Otávio, about his family history, he tolds us: “Now he Coffee Quest knows us better than we do”.
Varieties on the farm are Yellow Catucai (2SL and 24137), Yellow Catuai, Red Catuai, Yellow Bourbon, Red Bourbon, Robi, Yellow Icatu, Mundo Novo, Arara and Topazio. The chosen coffee in 19/20 season is all from the high altitude Yellow Bourbon plot.
The production techniques that are used come from decades of experience in the field and from continous agronomist, advice. They include the latest information from the research centres and universities. Fermentation techniques are applied based on farmplot, terroir and variety. Experimenting is done to find new processing and create different profiles, like aerobic and anaerobic fermentation. Every step is monitored and controlled on PH and temperature. The fermentation times vary from 12 up to 72 hours.
Their main volumes are dried on the terrace, sometimes in combination with the mechanical dryer. The drying time for pulped natural usually is 4 days on the patio and 4 to 5 days on the rotary dryer. After the drying the coffee stays to rest at the wooden granary to rest. Natural coffee dry on the patio for 15 up to 20 days, 10 days in the static box and in the rotary dryer for 10 days. A mix of several techniques can be used for one coffee.
Just before shipping (December ‘19) Otávio sent one of his 30kg experiments for The Coffee Quest to try out and find a single customer (BR19192). With the profits of the bag we will buy him a coffee gadget which we will take the next time we go to Brazil!
In Brazil it is not uncommon to see larger farms succeed in making specialty coffee efficiently. The family is focussed on production and procession although the quantity produced on Do Salto could aspire to export ambitions. The larger volumes are traded succesfully based on day prices in cooperation with local cooperatives. Together with the youngest of family, Otávio, The Coffee Quest is exploring the seperation of high quality coffee finding a market for their more expirimental micro lots. We contribute in providing quality feedback and pay a quality premium accordingly.
Climate change is influencing the current outlook for farmers. Higher temperatures in day time and frost at night are affecting the quality of the coffee. The family recognizes the change and wants to take care of the environment. The native forests and springs on the farm are preserved, and the water used for processing is given back to the ecosystem, treated and filtered. Pest control is done following the updated recommendations from the agronomist. The preventive treatments to limit the use of pesticides. All this hard work resulted in the certification by Rainforest Alliance for more than 15 years.
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