This was a big deal, and to begin with, I wasn’t sure who was who and what I was doing there!
My first ever origin trip took me to Brazil. It started by being invited to make up a small team of coffee buyers, tasters, and general coffee geeks by Morten Wennersgaard from Nordic Approach. We typically buy a container per year from the wonderful coffee, farming, and general legacy pro’s at FAF coffees and so this was a little out of left field.
Morten wanted a small crew to travel around with some exporters and farmers, as well as to judge a specialty coffee farmers competition in Sul Do Minas. I was honoured to be asked and realised when I got there that one member of the team was one of my very own coffee heroes from London! I felt incredibly out of my depth but very excited to be involved with this trip.
Our hosts for the trip were Natalia and Andreas Garcia who own the Jaguara coffee farms. What they’ve done with Jaguara by itself is off the charts - planting coffee trees in a region of Minas where no-one grows coffee! Risky to say the least, but it’s worked...very well. Andreas works in agronomy and has expert knowledge of soil, coffee, and water, not to mention he’s one of the Garcia family sons and knows his farming inside out.
Natalia, although while owning her own farms, also works for exporter Cafe Bras who are doing fantastic work helping farmers with facilities and resources to enable to improve systems and quality in order to produce much better tasting coffee that gets a much higher price. It obviously works for them too as they export these coffees and get them to some of the best roasters in the world. A great example of partnership and sustainability.
I had the privilege of having a night at the Garcia family farm and lake cabin, a hot intense day of farm walking, talking and copious amounts of tasting, tasting, tasting!! Andreas took us around acres explaining how his family farms and the sheer richness of our surroundings were an absolute testament to knowledge, hard work and integrity.
It was hot, we were tired and seriously over-caffeinated and it was a welcome treat to spend the night ahead eating well and drinking plenty around some sing song (there’s video footage!) at the lake cabin - ”This” I thought “is my job” and it’s not too bad!
After such an educational couple of days, tasting unbelievably tasty coffees I knew I would soon be buying coffee from the Garcia Family and I’m delighted to say that these coffees are some of the cleanest Brazilian coffees I’ve ever tasted. They’re completely loyal to the Brazilian profile but with a clarity and juiciness that can be hard to find in Brazil.
When you’ve done a trip like this, especially when it’s your first and you meet the workers who have a quality of life that is undeniably good, the coffee is outstanding and you’ve walked with, listened to, and shaken the hard-working hands of the people involved, it’s an incredible honour to be able to roast and sell this coffee. It’s more than a bag of Roasted Brown coffee; it’s a huge story, it’s a community of sharers and carers, and it’s sustainable. These are the things you are enjoying when you buy these coffees.