Over the years we’ve built some remarkable relationships with producers, exporters - and, crucially - the people in between, over in Brazil.
Navigating Brazil’s landscape is unique to many of the other coffee producing countries we work with, with many obstacles and challenges in place. The sheer scale of Brazil, language barriers, and the level of coffee production that takes place across the country means that, in order to source exceptional coffee, we need a little help. Despite the hurdles, the partnerships we’ve formed over the years have been key components to some of our most loved coffees. From classic espresso blends, to limited release features, while the relationships we form are built in a different way, the consistency lies in our commitment to nurture and support producers, and source and champion quality coffee.
Here we celebrate three of our longest standing relationships with producers, as well as shining a light on our partnership with SMC.
SOURCING COFFEE IN BRAZIL
Brazil’s landscape is unlike any other. Vast and mountainous, the country is the world’s largest producer of coffee, with over two million hectares dedicated to the industry. Guaxupé, a municipality in the southwest of the state of Minas Gerais, is home to the largest coffee cooperative in the world, Cooxupé–each silo in their factory can hold up to three million kilos of green coffee. With the speed of production required to meet demand, a system that could recognise and manage coffee with speciality potential was needed.
With this in mind, Cooxupé created a sister company, SMC - our main supplier in Brazil - who evaluate coffee on the spot. The dedication from the farmers, who have a firm mindset of speciality over commodity, means that the scope for outstanding quality is huge.
SMC takes us right to the source of those producers and coffee. Despite numerous challenges - from the effects of the war between Russia and Ukraine raising the price of fertiliser, through to the impacts of climate change – there’s a real sense of pride and positivity across the country, with many farmers strongly championing family traditions as well as embracing the latest experimental techniques. Many farms hold numerous certifications, and all are self-sufficient and determined. When it comes to working with those who focus on quality, transparency, and the future of sustainably sourced coffee, SMC makes these relationships - and friendships - possible.
Our partnership with SMC is crucial on many levels, and the relationship we’ve built with them is as instrumental as those we have with the producers in Brazil, working as our translators and aid negotiations, helping us maintain relationships with producers and exporters. The company values people, with integrity and respect informing every decision; they develop partnerships that celebrate sustainability and quality, uniting people through coffee. Exporting stories and coffee, the SMC connects us with producers who are well-established, with good quality control, regulations, certifications and compliance; they provide support, knowledge, training and more for the farmers, and they make our pursuit for coffee excellence possible.
ALWAYS OPENING DOORS
“SMC have been instrumental in opening doors and empowering producers, and supporting women; they’re more than a bridge–they’re the foundations and backbone of our relationships. They’ve often supported and aided us with an impressive level of efficiency and professionalism, connecting us to incredible coffee and producers, each bringing a unique quality to the table, with passionate, dedicated, and explorative attitudes that benefit the future of speciality coffee.
“Brazil is full of incredible people. Many farms are well-established, with a positive and progressive mindset that enables them to go further, safekeeping their workers and the future of coffee. There are those that cook meals for their workers, treating them as family. Those who look to explore. Those who make quality the central focus of everything they do. SMC has made these relationships possible, uniting us all with a shared vision for the future of speciality coffee in Brazil.”
Freda Yuan, Director of Coffee
- Region: Serra de Sao Domingos, south of Minas Gerais
- Altitude: 980 masl
- Size of Land: 180 hectares
- Varietals Grown: Catuai; Mundo Novo; Bourbon; Tupi
- Harvest Season: May - September
At Fazenda Mariano we’re always treated like family–the kind of welcome that the Junquiera family extends to their workers, all of whom benefit from either the free housing offered on site, or in houses the workers built on the outskirts of the farm.
The family value relationships; not only does Ricardo – a third generation member of the family – offer the highest pay in the area, but adds a percentage from harvest sales. Such investment ties into the mindset of the family, who know that protecting the future of their workers is key to the quality of coffee they’re able to produce. And it obviously works, with one of their employees having worked with them for 45 years (the farm has been operational for nearly 80 years). Knowledge, skill, and dedication are crucial: the machinery needed on the farm in order to harvest is complex: a giant depulper/sorter equipped with 21 motors; a drying silo with perforated pipe providing hot air; and a complicated set of conveyor belts and lifts to aid transportation: this isn’t easy work, and the family ensure they look after their workers as they would their own family.
Self-sufficiency and sustainability are deeply rooted at Mariano; the farm received Rainforest Alliance certification (then classed as UTZ), meeting and upholding the strict set of rules and requirements expected for farm organisation and data recording. Electric energy - for both the farm, and the workers’ homes - is provided by solar panels. Drying drums are powered by wood which is collected from preservation areas on the land (which make up twenty percent of the farm), and rainwater is collected in holes dug up between the coffee trees, acting as irrigation. The coffee grown on the farm is the product of working in harmony with the landscape - which benefits from rich volcanic soil - and the dedication of the people.
- Region: South of Minas Gerais
- Altitude: 1,150 - 1,230 masl
- Size of Land: 153 hectares (dedicated to coffee)
- Varietals Grown: Red Bourbon; Yellow Bourbon; Yellow Catuai; Red Catuai, Acaia; Mundo Novo
- Harvest Season: May - September
Sao Joao is another family-focused farm. The doors are always open, and the house is always full. Barns are filled with machinery and equipment, and skills and knowledge are passed down through the generations. With the soon-to-be fifth generation family member, Igor (who’s currently studying agriculture) looking to continue the legacy, there’s a real sense of not only pride and heritage, but also progression and growth.
The Balachio family arrived from Italy at the end of the 19th century. At the time, there were no other producers in the area. By 1925, the family were pioneers of coffee in the region, with machinery to process the coffee, and transportation by train making export possible. Today, the farm focuses on higher speciality production, with nine full-time employees, and 15 extra workers during harvest. From traditional procedures, through to more modern machinery, each is implemented with the intention of working in harmony with the environment, supporting the highest quality coffee–separating machines designed to be more water efficient, and drying drums powered by eucalyptus wood (the trees are commonly plants on farm borders in Brazil in order to shield the coffee plants from wind while providing a good source of firewood).
While the family have been able to work with the natural landscape to the benefit of the coffee they produce, there have been times where nature has thrown some challenges their way, too. Much of Brazil was hit by a severe frost in 2021, followed by a harsh drought; many trees had to be cut down as low as 20cm above the ground, with others needing to be completely replaced with new seedlings. While some coffee trees didn’t show any visible damage, the extreme weather shocked the plants into not producing any fruit. According to Igor, the only way to truly assess the damage has been to check every tree, one by one. It’s laborious work, and while many would find it demoralising, the family remain optimistic, believing that nature will always find its balance, and that patience is all that is needed–something Oswaldo Senior, Igor’s grandfather, wholly believes.
Each generation of the family at Sao Joao has the same pride and positivity when they talk about their farm, their shared knowledge and experience buoyed by their love for farming–and the proof is in their exceptional coffee.
- Region: South of Minas Gerais
- Altitude: 1,200 masl
- Size of Land: 109 hectares (dedicated to coffee
- Varietals Grown: Mundo Novo; Catucai; Rubi; Icatu; Bourbon
- Harvest Season: May - August
We’ve worked closely with the Muniz family for over eleven years now; their commitment to sustainable practices, alongside their open-minded attitude experimentation - with incredible results - means that theirs is a friendship we hope to cherish for many years to come.
The family began growing coffee in 1942, with second and third generation members of the family - Jose, and Matheus - maintaining it today. Until 1965, the farm operated without electricity, with post-harvest processing conducted through stream power. They’ve come a long way, with consistent coffee throughout their evolution; they’re Rainforest Alliance certified, with farm management through 14 sustainable programmes relating to environment, social, and economics. Das Almas - meaning ‘the souls’ (stemming from religious tribes believing that the soul is closer to God on higher altitudes) has 21 water springs, 42 hectares in permanent preservation, and 20 percent in legal preservation.
Throughout the farm you’ll find a seamless blend of tradition and progress. The family have always been willing to embrace the new, alongside maintaining and respecting the old. The first shed built to store fermented coffee - fitted out with a wood burner to keep the temperature consistent during colder nights - still stands next to their modern tanks–a perfect representation of how far they’ve come while honouring each step of their journey. Plots over 60 years old sit alongside new, experimental lots. Since 2001, the family has planted over 21,000 new trees. Most recently, they’ve completed a challenging replanting initiative, connecting all preservation zones into one, making it easier for wildlife to thrive, creating a sense of symbiosis between animals and the farm.
The family are also meticulous in their farming procedures and processes: the time each lot spends on the patio, in the drying drum, and resting, is carefully measured; the lot itself is never separated or blended, aiding in consistency. It’s this level of quality control and respect that makes their open-minded nature toward experimentation even more exciting, as each step is so thoughtfully considered; their anaerobic lot for our feature release of Lichia was proof of this: the creativity and innovation of the farmers, partnered with the detailed oriented approach always resulting in an exceptional cup.
These producers often contribute to some of our house blends - shop here