I was lucky enough to visit Guatemala this year and visit our long-time coffee producer partner, the Bressani Family of Finca San Jeronimo. Our relationship with them goes back to 2016 and we were one of the first to buy his specialty coffees through Coffee Bird in the UK. At the time, I thought it was a delightful Guatemalan coffee with some great aspects of social, environmental and economic practices. A great story.
However, upon visiting earlier this year, my expectations were surpassed and many assumptions were blown out of the water. It has profoundly changed the way I think about coffee and what ‘sustainability’ actually is - and isn’t.
Brazil is the biggest producer of coffee in the world.
It's too expensive to produce coffee there in the same way it is picked and processed in Ethiopia, Kenya, or Guatemala. There's no abundance of low-cost labour to do these jobs in most coffee-producing areas of Brazil. This is fortunate for labourers, as they have options, and means that Brazil instead needs to turn to innovation and technology to get the job done in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
The Climpson & Friends Brazil Trip of 2016 took a twist after Daterra Estate hosted us, when Bruno de Sousa turned up to drive us further into Minas Gerais, stopping at Sites of Coffee Significance along the way. These included the freshly planted Fazenda Lavirinha (demonstrating how diversity of crops can be a sustainable model for farmers, without compromising quality) and a visit to a commodity coffee dry mill in Campos Altos (where quality coffees exist amongst the lower grades but generally are all treated equally and sold at the lower end of “commodity” pricing).