There is not a cloud in sight, it hasn’t rained in months, and the brick red soil is begging for water. The harvest in Cerrado is winding down, the long hot winter having produced one of the biggest crops in history. Sophisticated irrigation systems have provided the trees with precisely the amount of water necessary for their survival, and rigorous sorting, grading and cupping have determined the exceptional lots destined for the specialty market.
Each day has been filled with visits to farms and cooperatives, each preparing cuppings and explanations of everything from traceability to production and sustainability. The best coffees of this region are low bodied and sweet, with flavors of chocolate, nuts, and orange peel.
Ninety percent of coffee in Cerrado is produced naturally – the whole fruit is placed on drying patios, regularly raked to promote even drying until the moisture content is reduced to 15 %, at which point it is finished to 11% moisture in large wood fired drums. The coffee is then milled, rigourously sorted, and stored in burlap sacks at cooperative warehouses such as this one in Patrocinio.
After a short flight back to Sao Paulo, I will drive to the rolling hills of Carmo de Minas to check in on the harvest where many consider to be the best coffee in Brazil. Stay tuned . . .