The other exporter I wanted to catch up with was Bourbon Coffee in Pocos de Caldas, a group I’ve known from back in my Mercanta days. With the owners also in Japan at the SCAJ show, hosting and ensuring I had plenty of coffees to cup was Thiago Trovo. The beautiful Bourbon cupping lab is set up over two rooms, one for visitors like me and one for the in-house cuppings. Being allowed to pop back and forth between them was great, as cupping lower grades and commodity market lots is something I don’t get to do much. When you work in specialty it’s really useful, vital even, to not lose sight of how good the coffees you get to work with really are. And there is nothing like cupping some lower grade coffee to remind you how lucky you are to have the privilige to work with the top few percent of coffees grown in the world.
While I was in Belo Horizonte I met Diogo Dias Teixeira de Macedo, the son of the owners of Recreio farm in São Sebastião da Grama. His mother Maria and her husband Homero are from a long line of coffee producers in the Grama Valley, Marias grandmother Mathilde having inherited a large farm from her grandmother. As per tradition, farms get divided up between children, and Dona Mathilde had 11 of them. Neighbouring farms such as Rainha, Santa Alina and Cachoeira da Grama have also been parceled out between the family. Now in its 5th generation of care, Recreio has proven to be one of the most successful farms in the area, with numerous awards in the Cup of Excellence. Diogo is an agricultural engineer and runs most of the production, while his brother is in charge of their own brand of roasted coffee, named after their great grandmother.
Recreio is an impressive farm, with about 45 full time staff and another 100 people who work during harvest. On the farm there is a school, a church and a clinic, as well as a computer lab and a football field for the use of the employees. As well as caring for the needs of the employees, the owners care greatly about the environment. Preserving the natural flora and fauna and protecting local water sources is a large part of the the family’s mission.
Harvest at Recreio is done by hand, and throughout the journey to the wet mill, onto the patios and to the dry mill, all the coffees are tracked and managed with great attention to detail. Quality is at the forefront at all times, which led Diogo to build a cupping lab in his grandfather’s old garage. This way, the family is able to sample roast and taste all their lots and experiments themselves, constantly learning and improving on what they do. We’re really pleased to have chosen a great lot from Recreio this year, and it will be going into our Red Brick espresso this week!
While the wetmills were quiet after harvest, the drymills were in full swing so I got the chance to head to the Bourbon mill and see it all in operation.
One of the coffees I cupped a lot of was from Fazenda Laranjal and although the farm had completed the harvest, we swung by for a visit. Laranjal is such a beautiful spot, with ivy growing everywhere and friendly dogs running around, it really felt like a bit of an oasis. While I didn’t pick up any lots from them this year, I’m looking forward to revisiting next year and hopefully finding some tasty treats for our customers!
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the coffees we’ll release over the next few months!