The job of a Bean Hunter is that of travel and adventure. After all, coffee doesn’t just grow anywhere. A Bean Hunter’s job may seem glamorous on the outside, but in fact, it’s full of long, tiresome journeys that can’t be accomplished unless you have a thirst for knowledge and a thirst for coffee.
Our own Bean Hunter, Paul Massard, recently traveled to Brazil with the mission of finding the best beans in the world. What he came back with was so much more. Take a look at photos and words from Paul Massard himself:
After almost 20 hours of traveling I finally made it to Pocos de Caldos Brazil. The first thing we did when arriving was to head straight to the first farm visit; a surefire sign that it was going to be a good trip that was all about coffee and education.
We visited Fazenda Mariano, which by any other origin country production standards would be a huge farm, but in Brazil Standards 5-7 thousand bags of production is considered a medium sized farm. When you have farms that produce 100 thousand plus bags a year, I guess 5 thousand bags are considered smallish.
The farm was beautiful and we arrived at that magical time of the afternoon in which the sun makes everything look beautiful.
We drove around the farm and I got to see, for the first time, some mechanical harvesting in action. They weren’t using the large trucks with vibrating fingers but a newer technology, which looks like a weed eater but with a large plastic vibrating hand. This is supposed to be better for the tree as it doesn’t remove as many leaves; even with that, it seemed more jarring to the tree than I imagined.
After seeing all the varietals that are grown I was truly impressed sight the amount of coffee that these trees hold. I would have to say that in all of my travels I have never seen trees with so much coffee on them.
After about 2 hours and seeing most of the farm we headed over to the wet mill to see coffee being received. As I thought, the process is very similar here in Brazil as it is in most other south and Central American countries. What I found interesting is that there is no fermentation or demuscaliging done. Everything is either pulp natural or naturally processed.
After walking through the process and seeing all of the machinery, we went into the farm house to have some coffee and cake. Let me say that my Portuguese is poor at best and Ricardo’s (left) and the farm owner’s English is at par with my Portuguese. As one could imagine, communication was rough. There was a lot of “hmm?”s on both sides. Despite that, we were able to understand each other a lot better than I expected.
Day 2 was spent at SMC, an exporter who helps us with the logistics on our Fazanda Lagoa Estate of Brazil coffee. Here I was again surprised at the amount of coffee that is processed as well amazing at the capacity of their facilities. They have the capability of holding 62,500 bags of 60 kilo at one time; that is a crazy amount of coffee. My camera couldn’t capture the true magnitude (imagine this times 20).
It being the largest warehouse I have ever been in, I was amazed at how neat and clean everything was. I always say that you can tell a lot about the quality of the cup when you look at how the farmer treats his workers and his farm as well as how the processing center looks.
After the tour of the facility I got to spend the rest of the day with their cuppers in the lab.
Again the language barrier was rough at first…but coffee talk is coffee talk. We cupped some fresh lots of Fazenda Lagoa as well as some of its neighboring farms. We also got the unlucky (and I really mean unlucky) chance to taste some defective lots that have recently come in; lots of over-fermented and Riado cups. If you don’t know what it is, you’re lucky. Needless to say it was rough.
A highlight of the adventure was having the Brazilian farmers taste some Ethiopian and Kenyan coffees that I brought with me. What was really cool was that this was the first time a few of them had tasted other coffees that were not Brazilian. That in itself sums up the joys of being a coffee buyer, being able to share great coffee with people who otherwise would never get the chance.
All in all it was a great trip and I can’t wait for the next adventure. Until next time this is The Roasterie Bean Hunter signing off.
Travel along with us as we search the world in pursuit of the best coffee by following us on Instagram!