Cafe do Brasil - 2005

Once again, October means a trip to Cerrado and Minas Gerais state in Brasil. The Natural Dry-Processed coffees for the new crop are at their peak, and the Pulped Naturals are there too, a great time to seek out some new, great coffees. And the main impetus is the Cafe do Cerrado competition, which pits the best of the region against each other. Overall, the cup quality was excellent and look for us to offer some of these competition lots in the near future.

A word of warning: a lot of my little travelogue has little to do with coffee, so read what you enjoy and stop when you are inundated! -Tom 10/20/05

Winning Lots, 2005 Caccer/ Cerrado Competition Lots Sweet Maria's Bought!
SÉRIE CEREJA DESCASCADA - Semi-washed Coffees
1. Eduardo Eustáquio de Andrade – Fazenda Paiolinho – Carmo do Paranaíba
2. Maria do Carmo de Andrade – Fazenda Paraíso – Carmo do Paranaíba
3. Virgínia Helena Crivelente Ferrero – Fazenda Caixetas – Patos de Minas
4. Amélia Ferracioli Delarisse – Fazenda Apucarana – Patrocínio
5. Rodrigo Aparecido Martins – Fazenda Pântano – Coromandel
6. José Zubioli – Fazenda Santa Bárbara – Romaria
7. Wagner Ferrero – Fazenda Pântano – Patos de Minas
8. Gláucio de Castro – Fazenda Duas Pontes – Patrocínio
9. Sebastião Francisco de Almeida – Fazenda Botânica – Patrocínio
10. Luiz Eli Caixeta Silva – Fazenda Chapadão – Patrocínio

SÉRIE NATURAL -Natural Dry-Processed Coffees
1. Carlo Diamante – Fazenda Cruz Branca – Estrela do Sul
2. Waldemar Bovi – Fazenda Araras – Monte Carmelo

3. Marcelo Cocco Urtado – Fazenda Marjorean – Monte Carmelo
4. José Diamante – Fazenda Santa Bárbara – Monte Carmelo
5. Félix Miyoshi Shimokomaki – Fazenda Santa Bárbara – Monte Carmelo
6. André Luiz Cocco Urtado – Fazenda Marjorean – Monte Carmelo
7. Ademar Posso – Fazenda Boa Vista – Monte Carmelo
8. Helder Bovi – Fazenda Monte Carmelo – Estrela do Sul
9. Mário Sugawara – Fazenda Estrela 1 – Estrela do Sul
10. Luiz Augusto Pereira Monguilod – Fazenda São Rafael – Monte Carmelo

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View of Patrocinio: So I found myself again in the small coffee town of Patrocinio, smack in the middle of Minas Gerais in the Cerrado growing region. It's a bit like the midwest, but a lot dryer, no harsh winter, and full of Brasilians!
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Not in Rio: Patrocinio has its own megastatue, but perched on a much less, er, dramatic slope. In fact, I would call it a "mound". Cerrado is flat basically, akin to the Savanna terrain of Africa. From L to R, Alberto Miranda, Eugene-based coffee mystic and king of Cafe Mam, Ensei Neto, the Cerrado competition director, John di Ruocco of Mr. Espresso, and someone hiding behind the nettles. Actually, that's a Euphorbia called Crown of Christ in Portuguese.
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The flower of the Euphorbia "Cherokee" ... what it is called in California, as it grows in my backyard. In Brazil it is an ornamental plant found everywhere, really dramatic and with these great flowers.
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Outside of town: a contrast in sizes. All the cars in Brasil are small, very small. Engine sizes are in the 1 to 1.5 liter range, tires look like they fit better on a Matchbox car. Industry and agriculture in Brazil are huge, and large in scale too. Maybe this photo takes that too literally, but I was there, and those tires were indeed MASSIVE.
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Expocaccer warehouse, Patrocinio; Andre directs operations at the dry-mill and the storage for the coop Expocaccer. Don't ask me to explain in detail, but Caccer is a "cooperative of cooperatives" basically, and Expocaccer handles all the dry-milling for coop members, and storage logistics. It's a very nice set up. And that is a LOT of coffee they have on hand.
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Finger-squasher/Bag printer: At Expocaccer, this is how all those nice bag graphics get printed on burlap.
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The mill: they were working on the machinery while we visited. Here is a complicated set of elevator controls to divert coffee from one machine (the density sorter, the size screener, the optical scanner, etc) to another.
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Bagging it: Green coffee exits the system, bags are sewn up, are elevated to head height, walked over to a second lift (blue, in the background), dropped off there to go skyward 40 feet or so on top of these massive stacks. You don't see pallets and forklifts at coffee mills. It's all done on the shoulders (and heads)
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Super-Retardo: It looked like a great challenge but at about 8 feet my courage and climbing skills were maximized. Now my oldest sister Liane aka "superclimber" (El Capitan, Half Dome etc etc) would be at the top in seconds.
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Tonka Trucks: Coffee is hauled from farms (still in parchment) to the Expocaccer mill in these handsomely customized rigs. The lines running to the hubs stumped me when I first saw them in Brasil long ago. It's air pressure, controlled from the cab. When they run empty, they optimize the air pressure, as when fully loaded. The weight difference with these kind of coffee loads is so great, and gas so expensive in Brasil, that it makes a lot of sense.
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Hard Hat: well, not really. These guys who haul the bags on their head wear these interesting felt-like knit hats. This guy could set a whole new trend on the West Coast; he has no idea.
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Ashes: Smoking is not entirely verboten in Brasil, just not in the dry-mill. On the porch, a super slick coffee themed he-man sized ashtray ... almost makes me wished I smoked. Almost.
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On to Business: We came to cup, and so the competition began. First we calibrated for a full day, to get the international jury (about 20 cuppers from US, Japan, and Spain mostly) on the same page. The cupping is split between Dry-processed and Pulped-process coffees (called CD coffee in Brazil: Cereja Descascada). So the cuppers job is to rate each on it's own merits. CD coffees score higher for uniformity, brightness, delicate flavors. But natural Dry Process have that big body, and that unruly chocolate and nut character. Here, the consummate professional, Mane Alvez of Coffee Lab International was head judge.
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How Droll: I did not win the Best Cupping Judge contest (went to the person with the highest slurp) but I was best at matching t-shirt to task on hand. Best lame facial expressions. Steve of Portland Roasting looks on, aghast.
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Lineup of sniffers: Smelling the crust on the cups, part 1 of judging the wet aromatics (part 2 is breaking the crust with the spoon). From Left it is me, Andrew Barnett, Joel Pollack, Steve, and Ramond. Not sure why they put all the gringos together at one table, but Spain was all together too. Korea and Japan were split between 2 tables.
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Miranda Rights: Alberto Miranda of Cafe Mam uses an IR thermometer to check water temperatures. Curiously, there is no water in the cups yet.
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Super Sloppy: the program was flawless except for the slightly too-dark roast on the first day of Natural Dry Process coffees (corrected for the finals) and the pouring. Ah, the pouring, whatta mess. The problem was that the big kettles they used were so heavy, and it was hard to stop the pour at the right moment. Once you break the crust with the cupping spoon, you couldn't help but overflow. For next year, I suggest the judges pour their own cups, so we only have ourselves to blame.
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The roaster: Actually this 2 barrel propane machine was not the one used to roast the competition samples. But it was on hand just in case...
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R &R: During a break in the cupping a few of us defected on a farm tour (I had been to the same farm last year, and have the pictures to prove it!). Instead we went to the local swimming pool, where all the schoolchildren were lining up to leave. Word of wisdom: get to the pool *before* the kids show up. Purity cannot be ascertained after they spend a couple hours in the water.

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Typical Patrocinio House...

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Candy Cane: More of Patrocinios colorful architecture.
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Amazing Gates: If I could buy them and ship them to Oakland, I would.
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Old and not so old: You see a mix of vehicles on the streets, including horse-carts for heavy loads. The price of gas in Brasil is very high, and horse-travel makes sense. Often, these are made from the backs of Willys-Jeeps that were popular in Brasil for many years.
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Behold the Fantasy! A gaming room (not sure if this was machines, or a internet gaming house called a LAN house in Brasil). In any case, awesome art.
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And on the other side: Something a little cuter for the kids. What's going on here? Donkey-Kong visits the Aquatic Park to admire the goldfish?
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Foodie: I really like paintings of food, especially when they are so flat graphically. If you expect tons of coffee-only pictures in this travelogue, stop now. I think there are more painted-sign pics than coffee flower photos! For those in the profession, what "Panetone" color do you think that pink is?
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A Steak, Some Eggs, A Turnip? I really don't know, but the artist is a geeeeeenneeeous!
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Okay, why not make my own food art? Every day we eat lunch at a Churasqueria (Brasilian Barbeque) called Jamaica Restaurant. The food is fresh (produce grown in the backyard, all local meat ...) and presentation ain't bad either! It inspired me... This is scallions on a local tofu-like type of Quejo. The true local cheese is like Feta, and called Quejo Miniero.
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More great sauce, vegetables from a garden just behind the tables. In California this place would put Alice Waters, fresh food diva, out of business. But you aren't going to hear an interview with the chef of Jamaica on NPR, sadly.
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Desert: Papaya pudding with Cassis on top. It's like better than Jello, dude.

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