Espírito Santo farmers discover the “formula” of the perfect coffee
"While in most of Espírito Santo the coffee harvest has already ended, around the Caparaó National Park, on the border with Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, there is still a lot to harvest. In this region, surrounded by mountains, cold weather and nature exuberant, some of the best coffees in the country are produced. It’s as if the farmers in the region, mostly family farmers, have discovered the perfect alchemy of the processes that result in the best coffee bean. management, almost always manual.s.
Caparaó coffees are usually above 80 points on the coffee rating scale, which goes from zero to 100. Therefore, they are considered special, premium type, which makes them coveted by Japanese, Germans, Mexicans and Australians, just to mention some nationalities of those who visit the property of Afonso and Altilina Abreu de Lacerda, in the district of Pedra Menina. The couple owns 27 hectares in Espírito Santo lands cultivated with varieties of the Arabian species and another 20 hectares in Minas Gerais.
To give you an idea, the Lacerda accumulate more than 50 quality awards, among them the national quality champion of the Brazilian Association of the Abic Coffee Industry and the Minas Gerais record for 94 coffee points. And the average productivity of crops is also not disappointing. It is above 35 bags / ha, while the state average is around 25 to 27 bags. Some Afonso plots even produce 66 bags.as.
“Today we have already managed to allocate a specific field to a specific customer. There is no better coffee, it depends on the taste of each one, says Afonso. Among the buyers are Brazilian, Japanese and German companies. The care with the product, explains the farmer, is in every detail, from manual harvesting to the pulping, drying and roasting of the grain. On the property, the harvest starts in May and runs until December. The cultivated species is Arabica, considered to be of the best quality, in the CD peeled cherry, red catuaí and yellow Caparaó varieties.lo.
The secret of abundance
The secret of this abundance comes from a number of factors, starting with altitude. The region is 1,200 meters high, which results in a milder climate. The temperature makes the coffee fruits develop more slowly, giving a sweet flavor and with accentuated nuances that stimulate the taste buds of those who try it. In addition, the correct management of the land and plants completes the package. The question of the sun influences a lot. A plant that gets sun in the morning has higher productivity and tastes better than the one that stays in the sun all day, explains Norberto das Neves Frutuoso, extension worker and office coordinator at the Capixaba Institute of Technical Assistance Research and Rural Extension Incaper in Dores do Rio Black.eto.
“These pioneering producers want to add value to coffee, with more quality, and joining with tourism as well, says José Adilson de Oliveira, agronomist engineer at Crea-ES and technical consultant at Cceagro Specialized Chamber of Agronomy of the Confea / Crea System in the states. By growing these specialty coffees, he says, producers are able to earn a higher income, which helps keep families in the field and continue to increase production.o.
For Lúcia Vilarinho, president of Crea-ES, the farmer needs technology to grow. "But this technology only reaches the producer with the help of professionals. The presence of an agronomist or duly qualified technologist helps the farmer to improve the quality of products, bringing more security to society." Lúcia understands that the approach with family farmers, however, needs to be differentiated. "He also needs the guidance of a public agency or an association of producers, because his work is more vulnerable, he adds..
In Espírito Santo, according to Incaper, 80 of the 108 thousand properties have less than 50 hectares. The strength of family farming in the state, therefore, is relevant. Of the 13 million tons of coffee that the Espírito Santo produces each year, the state is the second largest national producer, behind only MG, only 30 of that volume is of the Arabica species. The other 70 are conilon, which is a dark and bitter coffee and is the most common in supermarkets. And even though it is the largest national producer of conilon, the arabica varieties grown in the region of the Espírito Santo mountains have stood out because of the quality in Brazil and abroad.rior.
The coffee from the Caparaó region is harvested by hand, only with the help of a derriçadeira, and then taken to a pulper, purchased by the state government and for community use. In it, the peel of the fruit and other impurities are removed. The grain is then taken for drying in covered or not covered cement terraces or in suspended terraces. The coffee can be dried with the pulp in a longer process. All these steps, which are followed by roasting and grinding the beans, influence the flavor of the coffee.é.
But reaching a product of excellence would not be possible without a little push from extension workers. We saw that the coffee here had a different potential, that it could produce special beans. But producers needed to work more post-harvest, but they didn't have the equipment, says Agno Tadeu da Silva, agronomist and rural extension worker at Incaper, who started working with farmers in the region in 2005.5.
With the pulper installed a few years ago, the quality of the coffees increased exponentially and the producers started to win awards. Winning these awards is a recognition for the family, a pride to be recognized for having the best coffee in Brazil, says Altilina, mother of two. The oldest, 18, is already a barista and is preparing to receive tourists and explain the nuances and notes in the flavors of the region's cafes.o.
Another producer who is laughing for nothing is Afonso's uncle, Manoel Protázio de Abreu, 64, who owns 30 ha of coffee plantations divided between Minas and Espírito Santo. His wife, Joana, and three other children work with him, in addition to his son-in-law. Manoel produces special Arabica coffees of the red and yellow Catuaí varieties. Of his eight brothers, half work in coffee farming. A tradition that started with Manoel's grandfather at the beginning of the last century and has spanned generations.
“The best of this coffee is behind the packaging, jokes Manoel, pointing to his photo on the product label, a coffee that only by the smell you can see why Europeans, Asians and gourmet cafes from all over the country come from afar to buy their beans , which among its characteristics, in addition to the different flavor, is the fact that they are pollinated by bees and are free of pesticides..
Source: Gazeta do Povo