Our Director of Roasting, Scott McLean, sourced this coffee on his most recent trip to Brazil last August. Scott was able to visit seven farms and sample over 150 different coffees from the Carmo de Minas region over the course of four days. Just like Napa Valley offers the perfect growing conditions for fine wine in our country, the Carmo de Minas region offers an ideal climate for growing specialty coffee. The Fazenda Santa Lucia coffee really stood out to him because of the creamy body and sweet, fruity flavors. He also picked up flavors like brown sugar, caramel, strawberry and notes of almond as well.
Although coffee is an old commodity in Brazil, the country has produced some of its very best coffee over the past 10-12 years. It has only been in the last 7-8 years that the coffee in the Carmo de Minas municipality has been particularly noteworthy. Renowned for its mineral water springs, the region of the Mantiqueira mountain range possesses a perfect combination of climate and land factors, with highly fertile soil that enable the production of fine coffee with typical characteristics, such as a full body and medium-to-high acidity, with a predominantly citric acidity. The region’s economy is based on agriculture and coffee is responsible for providing more than half the income and jobs.
Although many of the farms in this area have won awards and garnered attention in recent years, there have not really been radical changes in farming and processing methods. Not even in terms of picking. We believe that the area has achieved its status with a little bit of luck, good growing conditions, good plant material – mostly Bourbon – but otherwise quite ordinary craft. However, good coffee has come out of all this and as a result; the Carmo region has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions.
The 100 years of coffee growing tradition in Carmo de Minas are interlaced with the history of the Sertão Group. The first cultivation of coffee in the region occurred at the Sertão Estate, which gives its name to the group. Inherited by José Isidro Pereira and Nazareth Dias Pereira, and currently managed by their sons and in-laws, the estate is still part of the group, which also has other properties, including the Santa Inês and São Benedito estates and the São José farm. In recent years, the Sertão Group has also been successfully engaging in the breeding and sale of Girolando cattle and the cultivation and sale of corn and soybeans.
The farm includes 740 hectares (1800 acres) of which 83 hectares (205 acres) are dedicated to the farming of coffee. The farm is divided into lots of 9 hectares of the Yellow Bourbon varietal, 18 hectares of Catuai varietal, 18 hectares of the Acaia varietal and 25 hectares of the Mundo Novo varietal. Current production is about 2,800 bags of which 1,260 are Pulped Natural and 1,540 are Natural. The farm is a model of the region and in innovating in both quality and proper production methods with hopes of producing over 4,500 bags in the future.
The Sertão Group employs approximately 135 families that reside on-site throughout the year. These families make up the core of Sertão’s permanent team and are provided with free housing of good quality, running water, electricity, milk, coffee and fruit. In addition, on-site schools with fully qualified teachers for primary and secondary education, on-site medical and dental care, soccer fields and fishing ponds for leisure time, are provided.
In an effort to ensure and promote environmentally sustainable practice, programs have been implemented to preserve springs and water sources, wildlife, forests and other vegetation, and soil. All the water used in the washing tanks and pulpers is recycled, with residues transferred to settling ponds in order to avoid excessive use of water and contamination of the surrounding environment. The husks of pulped coffee, which are rich in nutrients, are used as fertilizer and organic matter in the coffee fields.
The Brazil Fazenda Santa Lucia Reserve will be available for $17.95 per 12-ounce bag for a limited time.