Cafe do Brasil - 2005

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In Cupping Lab No.1 at Daterra, a display of foregn matter and defects found in coffee.
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It's been known for a long time that you could find fermented beans in coffee by looking at it under black light. This idea has been taken farther at Daterra, but for now, here are some images from their test lab, of what I am talking about. Here is a good sample that has 2-3 defect fermented seeds in the center. They appear as white.
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And here is a very bad sample with about 50% fermented seeds, viewed under blacklight.
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Now, take that lab setting and build a huge green coffee sorting system around it. That is the Penta system that Luis initiated at Daterra. Housed in a big mysterious wood box, we were not able to view it directly, nor photograph it.
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Daterra, like other farms, uses exact land plots and GPS to help track the use of chemical and fertilizer on the farm. All these colored areas signify their stage in treatment.
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And this board shows areas that might have been treated with fertilizer and should not be entered - red means Prohibited. All this is part of BSCA coffee association cetification. Only a small number of the best Brasilian farms are BSCA certified, a complete program with environmental protections, worker protections, and safe work place rules.
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A little crack in the coffee drying patio, and a new Fazenda emerges.
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The Cigarra or Cicada as we call it. They all emerge at the same time forming a fine ... ahem... mist that rains down from the trees. The weirdest thing is that the mist is quite inviting, and the fact that you are being soaked by insect piss doesn't seem to matter at that moment.
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Coffee skin (Casca), Parchemnt (pergamino) and muscilage are used with other organic materials to creat a rich mulch that is returned to the plants.
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Gustave shows us the "Wooden Gauntlet" and unique allway underneath the huge parchment coffee storage bins. All the storgae bins are wood-lined.
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And here is the view from above, tainted by a gringo who had to jump in and plany around in the coffee.
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A Mecamau 3 barrel sample roaster at the Daterra Cupping Room No.1. This is more of a production machine for them.
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The fancy cupping room is in a separate building, and is overseen by their head cupper Carlos Borges. This has all Probat roasting equipment including this single barrel traditional sample roaster ...
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... and this beautiful Probatino machine. There is probably no more elegant sample roaster out there, but of course, the price tag matches the beauty and functionality of this machine. Last I hear it was 8 grand.
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Contols for the Probatino- not fully automated but quite extensive. It includes PID bean temperature control.
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Okay, the competition is over, the best of Cerrado has been determined, and we are off on a road trip with the boys from Fazenda Brauna, located in the Zona de Mata region of Minas Gerais State. I have bought their coffee for several years, and was excited to see the farm and the mill. This is the Fiat 1.3 Liter Brauna-mobile - ans awesomely roomy car.
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On the road, I ponder the cowboy look for myself. I don't think this will fly with the homies in West Oakland so I had to pass.
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First night is to be spent at the farm of the Souza family in Campos Altos, with the aforementioned Zinho, a spry 86 years old. And to the right is the loco brasiliero Aphonse from Brauna. His brother Joao would join us later.
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And Afternoon under the veranda: With an accompanyment of 10 dogs, most with cataracts (this poor guy was totally blind), and some fantastic food.
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Bromeliads and other parasitic plants abound. Someone thought a cattle skull would fit in too.
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The man responsible for that food, Pica-Pau has a cattle ranch but is an old Souza family friend and a helluva good cook!
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Myself, Zinho, Megan and Analia, Zinho's wife. She is a lively 60 year old, and he is 86. They live in the town of Campos Altos, but come out to the farm house regularily. Their farm and coffee mill is in rough condition, not a model of modern coffee production, but rustic and beautiful.
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The farm house of Zinho and Analia is incredible. The floors are all beautiful old tiles, and the ceilings are a least 12 feet tall. It reminds me of some of the best old houses I have seen in the South, but with more color and homemade touches.
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It's hard to capture the dimnsions of the house. It has that rural vernacular in terms of architecture, a house built in a unique way, added to and altered over the years, until it becomes something totally unique, local to the area, and unreproduceable.
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What Style Is It? I have no idea but it is awesome! Locally made folk art furniture like this is really amazing. All the woods are hard-wood Ipe and otherwise it is local cedars.
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It's hard for them to keep up the house, and some electrica problems led to a couple of small fires, the more serious one made a small hole in the roof. The house is a mixture of beauty and abandonment. Makes me want to move in ans start to make repairs right away. I suppose it was the same impulse I had to save every blind, underfed dog I saw...
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A little unexpected visitor I found hanging out in the bathroom at the Souza house. I told Pica-Pau about it and they told me it is a delicious frog to eat, lightly fried. I said "no thanks!"
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Outside Campos Altos, a coffee pot and cup made entirely from chans, flywheels, cogs, and other industrial parts. As always, the simple charm is offset by an oversized billboard in the background.
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We took a small trip to visit the farm of Betaina and Jr., a younger couple who started to grow coffee in the past few years. They have a great lot of 100% Bourbon coffee to offer but, strangely, the sample disappeared (Andrew, did you swipe it!?!). On the way to their farm, we saw these cattle being herded on the road, including a calf that could not have been more than a day out of the womb.
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Evening Entertainment: Campos Altos is a small, rural coffee town. That night was a big Faroh, what bascially translates to the "peoples dance". It's for everyone, rich and poor, young and old, genuine rural cowboy culture. And that means, of course, a guy playing synthesizer and another on accordian. It means very straightforward 1-2 step music. It means beer. It means kids running around, and women dancing with eachother when they can't get a fella to ask them. An old cuople cuts a polka trajectory across the floor that has 50 years of polish to it, making the kids look like amateurs.

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