One of the perks of coffee is the travel. This month, Atlas Coffee Importers asked me to join them in Brazil to judge a co-op competition. This is my second similar trip, and I wanted to share a little of it with you all.
The first thing to understand is what this type of competition is. Of the 500,000+ coffee farms in Brazil, 80% of those are 20 hectares or less. 25% of farm land has to be left as sanctuary land-great for the environment, but not so easy on farmers trying to profit on their land. This means that many farmers aren’t producing enough coffee to export alone. Farmers like this join a co-op where their coffee will be blended and exported with their neighbors.
In a co-op competition, farmers submit their small lots of coffee for judging. The best of these coffees will be pulled out of the blended lots and sold as micro-lots. The farmers are also given a higher price over the market differential. This can add up to hundreds of dollars more if they score well.
The competition in Brazil was sponsored by San Coffee and the AFASA Co-Op in Santo Antonio do Amparo. There were over 100 submissions, and we were lucky enough to cup some amazing coffees. Bright, fruity, balanced, chocolaty, and fun.
I ended up buying the #1 and #5 placing coffees. Domingo and his family produced an anaerobic fermentation natural coffee that blew my expectations. There was only one 60 kilo bag of this coffee, and it will be landing in Denver this January. Eunic was the only female producer who scored in the top 10, and I just loved her! Her coffee was juicy, clean, and full of berry sweetness. She produced two bags of coffee, and they will hit our shelves in February.
I’m always humbled and honored to meet the people who spend their lives creating the coffee that makes my life possible. To be on their farms, in their homes, in their hearts is a gift, and I hope that sharing their coffee and story with you all gives them hope for the future.