Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

Brazil 2004 Cerrado Coffee Competition, Coffee Tour

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chapadao-harvester
Close-up of the abrading spindles. I had to sort of rethink my biases towards the use of machines to harvest, and while you could never do it in Central America or other steep coffee terrains, it fits Brazil well.
chapadao-fazParaisoGroundcoffee
Coffee picked from the ground, loaded with dirt and sticks. This is ultra low-grade coffee sold on the local market.
chapadao-sorter
A simple separator and screening machine at Fazenda Paraiso. This is used on the last part of the crop where coffee is picked from the ground.
chapadao-brokenbeans
The low quality coffee at the end of the harvest. For better or worse, everything gets used.
chapadao-garden
The flower garden at Fazenda Paraiso. A note on Cerrado - you will see a mix of agriculture grown around the coffee that is very unusual: Corn, soybeans, cattle, Eucalyptus for charcoal and building, pine for construction, vineyards, sugarcane, etc.
chapadao-fazParaisoRockets
This has nothing to do with coffee! It seems someone at the farm is a model rocket hobbyist. This is their launching pad - I just liked the sign...
chapadao-fazParaisoDrinkin
... Some joker... CanCao? Hmmm... maybe it's rat poison.
patrocinio-shop
Back in Patrocinio, the main church, at 7 PM.
patrocinio-moon
Moonrise over Patrocinio.
patrocinio-coffeelecture
Next day; A coffee lecture at Caccer offices, discussing the methods of cultivation and processing used in Cerrado. They call Cerrado the "nose of Minas Gerais" because of the way it protrudes out, bordered by 2 rivers; the Rio Grande and Paranaiba. Cerrado is unique among coffee growing regions of Brasil - it has a weather pattern with a dry "continental" influence coming from the West, whereas other regions align in a corridor parallel to the coast and have an easterly "maritime" weather pattern.
patrocinio-calibrationmeeting
Meeting before the first day of calibration cupping. The entire first day was spent on getting all judges "on the same page" so there was a session for semi-washed and a session for natural dry-processed coffees. The main concern, especially for the Japanese judges, was overrating the coffees. Caccer and the head judge Rob Stephen were actually explicit about keeping the scores in perspective. In their opinion (mine too) you can't rate a Cerrado above around 86, based on the lower acidity and milder flavor characteristics overall.
patrocinio-4cuppers
The big 3, and me. From left to right is Ensei Neto, head of Caccer; me; Christian Wolthers, president of the SCAA; Rob Stephen, consultant and future SCAA president ... and head judge for this event. Rob was head buyer for Dunkin Donuts for several years. (He mentioned to me that he was responsible for buying 300,000 bags of Brazil naturals every year for DD ... 300k!!!)
patrocinio-theroasters
Of course, the first things I do at a cupping is check out the roasters and see how they are being used. These are typical, straightforward gas roasters. They work fine except you need to make sure the cooling is fast enough to prevent "roast coasting" ... continued roasting after the coffee is out of the drum.
patrocinio-samples-lights
The sample grounds under calibrated daylight. The sample roasting was pretty good, but when we had a darker sample with a flatter cup profile and less acidity, the Japan judges would score it higher. It underscores a cultural preference they have, and how an international jury always comes from very different perspectives. Actually, it would be boring if we didn't.
patrocinio-me-sniffing
Yours truly, breaking the crust and judging aroma. Sometimes after you break the crust it helps to lift the coffee to your nose, or you can turn the spoon upside down and smell the coffee on the back of it. I usually do neither because it doesn't help me smell aroma better, so not sure why I was doing it here. Cupping isn't one rigid set of procedures, but a range of techniques that each judge implements in a slightly different way.
patrocinio-ReferenceCoffee
One great thing at this cupping was the use of a reference coffee at every table. The reference coffee was from the calibration cupping so all judges knew what it was, its character, and how it rated. If we were unsure of a coffee on the table, or if it was a post-lunch cupping (meals can really throw you off) you could come back to the calibration cup to get your senses back in line... I love this idea - I recommended it to Cup of Excellence but it didn't really get any reaction from them.
patrocinio-me
OK, this is a totally posed photo. But it is hard to get a cupping photo when you are leaning over a cup, sucking coffee off a spoon. Cupping is, at it's core, a very unattractive activity! Oh well...
patrocinio-nose
The nose. My friend Bruno Souza judges the wet aroma of the crust. We were giving him a hard time because he dipped his nose into the grounds a couple times. It happens. I think I did it too.
patrocinio-scoring
My scoring form at the table. We used a version of the new SCAA scoring system. It's a rather complicated one because of the level of detail, but straightforward too in that there are 10 categories worth 10 points each. I am thinking about whether I can adopt this new system for my coffee reviews, so I can be in sync with SCAA and other cuppers (a good thing) or if there are some shortcomings here that are too great. An example is the 10 point uniformity score of the 5 sample cups ... a concern of larger commercial roasters, but for me slight variations between cups is not a reason to score a coffee down. Also, the emphasis on clean cups and sweetness in coffee will make even a great Harar or Sumatra score poorly.
patrocinio-cups
Cups lined up, waiting the required 4 minutes to break the crust. A word about Cerrado - the new system they have puts a bar code tag on every 60 kilo bag. It means that nomatter how far the bag travels, a roaster can still track the bag back to the specific lot, to the farm, obtain the name of the farmer, and get a score rating on the coffee from the Caccer office.

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