Cafe do Brasil - 2005

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Okay, back to the job. Here we have Neto scoring the dry fragrance on the semi-final round of cupping.
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Tallying up the results. This was not the finals because we used paper cupping forms. In the final rounds we were able to use Mane Alves' new PalmPC-based cupping program. It took a moment to get used to (especially when you make cryptic side-bar notes to yourself all the time). But basically it was an awesome and convenient system to used, Behold the future.
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Final award ceremony. The Dry-processed category was dominated by Monte Carmelo area farms. Monte Carmelo is the town a bit west and north, and has great weather for natural coffees (although our luck with the Cooxupe coop Monte Carmelo lots ran out a while back - too inconsistent). Here we have the winners of the CD (Pulped Natural category) from Fazenda Paiolinho from Carmo de Paranaiba.
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Cultural Confusion: Okay, things got a little sketchy after the awards were handed out. All the coffee porducers in the room are celebrating, or kvetching, or gossiping. There's a lot of general noise. Then this guy runs out and gets up to rock the mic. He starts off with something that the Japanese judges find amusing, but then seems a bit confused about what to say next. It's odd, it's awkward, it makes good photos for sweet maria's web site. What the heck it was all about, I dunno.
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T.O. Confusion: As we depart with our awards (Best Cupping Judge for me, ha-ha), I am challenged by an unnamed party to prove my assertion that the awards are framed in glass, not plexiglas. I was right, I guess, but made a fool of myself in the process. I got the whole mess cleaned up, but felt bad nonetheless. I saved the most important part which is now in my office, the center part, with a classic misspelling of my name (Tomphson).
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Severe Penalty: No, I wasn't arrested for breaking the frame - I was awarded by getting my picture taken with some smartly outfitted paramilitary security guards. Actually, this is at the Agriculture Fair that was concurrent with the cupping event, and I am not sure why they needed the heavy duty cops. Joel, a roaster for Stumptown is on the left.
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New Wave Agro: Well, Agri. This is a massive automated coffee harvester. As far as the pros and cons of automated harvesting, you need to read my extensive notes from last years Cerrado trip. Basically, in this terrain, mechanical picking does a better job of ripe cherry selection than the strip pick technique of humans, and because Cerrado features one simultaneous, strong flowering, the machine suits both terrain and crop cycle of the Cerrado coffee. It would not be appropriate in many other coffee areas, even in Brasil.
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At the Fair: Another mechanical harvester, this one a lower cost tow version.
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Once again, being a dork. It5's amazing that I used to go on trips and come back with no photos of myself, forgetting to hand over the camera and ask someone to take a picture. Now I come back with too many. What has changed?
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Maybe it's because I turned 40? Anyway, here is an interesting display of coffee chemistry applied to soil ammendment. Basically, all soil in Cerrado has great structure but lacks organic material, Nitrogen and Calcium (among other things). It is iron rich, but out of balance. Soil is tested and custom formulations are created for each Fazenda, sometimes for each separate plot on the Fazenda. There's science to the coffee of Cerrado, but you won't see indiscriminate use of chemcals and pesticides, you won't see ariel spraying of crops. 100% organic in cerrado would, I believe, be impossible given the soil condition. But every farm is very discrete about using soil amendment and EVERY farm I have seens uses extensive composting techniques, and encourage non-competing ground cover between the coffee plants.
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Cafe Zinho. The man in the center is the father of Bruno Souza, by favorite Brasilian coffee seller, and at 86 he will look you straight in the eye and speak Portuguese for hours. He doesn't care, he has lots of energy and lots to say. If you don't understand, so what! He goes by the nickname Zinho (pr. Zeen-yo) and that happens to be what "drip coffee" is called in Brasil, a Cafe Zinho. He came down to the Fair to hang out, before we went off to see his farm. And watch out, he drives like hell!
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Bak in Patrocinio: My favorite picture ... on black plastic put up to cover the fence at Casa de Chopp, a club called "Coffee Night". It had nothing to do with coffee, it was live music.
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Halloween? Some nice tags by local Patrocinio graffitti artist "Boo"
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And oh yes, the Hamburgers. Some of the best Hamburger Art is found in Patrocinio, including this illuminated sign of a plaintve-looking single stacker. You would be dismayed if you were about to be eaten too.
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Van Gogh: Local Hamburger Artist "Vincent" likes to keep things flat, but is not above a ketsup drip or two to keep it all luscious looking.
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Mr. Key: Actually, I saw him a few places. Not sure why a Key wears a baseball hat, or what he could be pointing at. Maybe its a sorta "hey jerk, lock yourself out again, ha-ha" thing.
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Next morning, the camera keeps rolling: Horses and carts are still used to trasport the heavy stuff. A brick yard across from our hotel, "Minas Palace."
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Would you trust them with your child? A kinda kreepy vingette painted on the wall of a nursery school.
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Oh, more nice Hamburgers. They are everywhere. If I had a nickel for every ....
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The best restroom painting ever. I like the restroom nomenclature. Sometimes it was Ele and Ela. Sometimes it was Hommes and Muheres. Sometimes it was Caballeros and Damas. And here it was just this dude in a blue shirt. I like this best.
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Who wins the Golden Swiss Cheese? Okay, I guess it's billiards, but I just thought the perspective was funny.
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Back to COFFEEE! Oh, man. I have seen so many trees in the past 4 years, but the side trip John DiRuocco and I took to Daterra was really fascinating. Daterra is a group of 4 farms, 2 big ones and 2 little ones. A few years ago we bought their Cup of Excellence lot. They are members of the Caccer family, but are really an independent farm. They are big, well-funded, but have the spirit of invention and experimentation in what they do. It's sorta the La Minita of the region. Here we have 30 year old Catuai trees, some of the oldest in the Cerrado region. (First coffee planted in Cerrado was 1972.)
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Coffee Scout: Gustavo was our guide at Daterra. Here he is digging into the ground cover a bit to show the layer of leafy mulch and weeds allowed to remain between rows of coffee shrubs. They mow the weeds when they get too high, but it offers a good layer of protection and more organic material for the deficient soil. They keep the weeds away from the trees so they don't compete with the coffee. For that they use RoundUp, unfortunately.
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John Di Ruocco was with me for our side trip to Daterra. Here he is modeling local Minas Gerais fashion. Muy Macho.
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These are the 30 year old Catuai trees that were cut to a stump 1 year before. This is standard practice everywhere in coffee cultivation. The cut ranges from every 7 years to as much as 10, but a coffee tree simply won't produce when most of its growth is woody. Coffee cherry comes from blooms on the herbacious part of the branch, the new growth. There are less dramatic trimmings done each year, including a "skeleton" cut that trims the tree to it's bones, but does not reduce the height like the 7 year cut. This plot is not irrigated.
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Cerrado is fairly unique for the flat Savanna terrain, the need for soil ammendments, mechanical harvesting, and this, irrigation. 20% of Dattera is irrigated, and the range at most farms is in that range. I don't know of a farm that is 100% irrigated but it might exist. Circular overhead (pivot) irrgiation like this is common, but drip/emitter irrigation is being introduced, the problem being that the cost of hosing is very high. Even Daterra is daunted by the costs of drip irrigation. Also, coffee has a very deep and wide root pattern so hose irrigation needs to account for this.
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Acaia: This cultivar has a rust-colored new leaf, which turns green as it matures, as you can see. Catuai has a green new leaf. Daterra also cultivates Bourbon and Mundo Novo varietals. Mundo Novo is a Bourbon hybrid with a very circular seed form.
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Worth a Try: Dattera has a lot of experimental plots - they seem willing to give anything a try. This is a sight you won't see in Cerrado often, untrimmed 30 year old Mundo Novo trees, 18 feet tall. The plot is completely unmaintained. Gustavo was surprised because 3 years ago the plot had a very strong flowering and produced more coffee cherry per hecatre than any other part of the farm. But most years it produces far too little. A small farm would tank with that little production. Pictured here, Gustavo and John.
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On the leafy ground cover of the huge Mundo Novo trees, coffee replants itself with ease. Here are 2 coffee seedlings among other plants. This plot is found on the Boa Vista farm. We did not have a chance to visit Daterra's other farms. The large one is Tabuoes, the smaller Fazendas are San Ignacio and Buruti. In all Daterra has 300 full time employees!
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A problem in the area is a small worm that creates leaf spots. It is not the well know fungi Ojo de Gallo (Eye of the Rooster) found other places.

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