Brazil – Ecoagricola Serra do Cabral Tropical Fermentation

The Flanzer family began farming in the Serra do Cabral (in the Chapada de Minas at the north of Minas Gerais) in the 1970s, when Henrique Flanzer –father of Marcelo &Roberto –bought land to engage in forestry projects.

For many years, Ecoagricola was almost purely run for forestry. However, in 2000, Marcelo and Roberto (who had taken over management of the farm) began planning for the next 30 years, at which point they decided to diversify.

They chose coffee for the great fit with the region: altitude, climate, water & terroir were perfect for coffee production.

They planted their first coffee nursery in 2006 and their very first coffee harvest was in 2009.

Even today, one of the most interesting facts about Ecoagricola is that there is no other company producing coffee in the Serra do Cabral. The brothers, like their father, are true pioneers.

Marcelo and Roberto, who have worked together since they were young, are the current managing partners of the company

When they first began producing coffee, there were two big challenges that they had to face.

Firstly, coffee had never been produced in the region before, so there was little infrastructure and no ‘accepted’ practices that had been developed and adapted over time for the region.

The brothers were going to have to figure it out on their own.

The brothers figured out that pivot irrigation was the way forward, taking into consideration water availability and terrain.

Pivot irrigation (known variously as ‘waterwheel’or‘circle’ irrigation)is a method of crop irrigation where equipment rotates around a central pivot and crops are watered with sprinklers.

The sprinklers will irrigate a circular area around the pivot point, often creating a circular pattern in crops when viewed from above. Centrepivot irrigation typically uses less water compared to many surface irrigation and furrow irrigation techniques, which reduces the expenditure of and conserves water.

 

Over the course of 10 years, the brothers have succeeded in installing five pivots, all of which use LEPA (Low Energy Precision Application) technology.

LEPA ensures that the plant canopy remains dry and water is applied directly to the furrow —typically every other furrow.

Delivering water directly to every other furrow requires some special management and tillage practices, but also is one of the most energy and resource efficient means of irrigation.

They have also installed weather stations and monitoring systems that help with inputs assessment.

In 2016 they began utilising the "precision agriculture system", which measures not only the average input needs for the whole plantation (traditional system) but also the different needs of every individual hectare.

With the aid of GPS monitoring, they are able to ensure that each plant receives only the nutrients and water it needs, no more, no less.

These measures have helped them to achieve their goal of marrying quality and sustainability.

Although they are the new kids on the block, the quality of the coffee speaks for itself: they have even won places in 2017 in the prestigious Cup of Excellence competition.

 

Since 2015, Ecoagricola has embarked on a quality-driven project for post-harvesting with the University of Lavras (UFLA), coordinated by Professor Flavio Borém.

Professor Broém is one of the world's leading coffee quality researchers, and his advice has been crucial in informing the farm’s post-harvest practices.

100% traceability is maintained from the moment the cherry is picked at Ecoagricola.

This means that during quality control and sensory analysis, any quality issues can be traced back to the individual hectare, helping identify and prevent any future issues.Lots are defined by variety and method; mainly natural & pulped natural, but now also including new experimental lots of fully washed and ‘tropical fermentation’, such as this lot.

Marcelo & Roberto began to test this process in 2017 (along with other methods)in very small quantities and at various times of the year. Through extensive testing, they have managed to narrow their search for new processing methods; placing 12th at the 2019 Cup of Excellencewith a similar process.

After their success, Marcelo & Roberto are now working to produce this process on a larger scale; increasing the size of their micro lot.

All coffees from nano and micro-lots (such as this lot) are selectively hand-harvested.

During the harvest season, the farm’s workforce of 50 doubles to 100 people,all of whom are trained in best practices.

For this special lot, only the ripest cherries are handpicked, before immediately being placed into bags below the coffee tree.

Here, in the shade where the heat is not so strong, they are left for 24 hours.

This allows the beans to undergo a process of dry fermentation, or in other words, ‘tropical fermentation’.

During harvest, the climate at the Serra do Cabral becomes very dry; providing the unique conditions needed to achieve this extraordinary profile.

After a day or so has passed, the cherry bags are collected and taken to the farm’s mill to be processed.

Cherries are first washed to remove any residue from the bag, as well as any floaters, before being placed on raised beds to dry. Here, beans are slowly dried; carefully being moved many times a day.

Typically, on the first day, coffee cherries will be left in a thin layer. After they begin to dry, over the following days, they will be turned regularly, making increasingly thicker layers until the drying cherries reach around 15-18% humidity.

Once finally dried to an exceptional standard, the beans are moved from the beds and left to rest for at least 30 days in the absence of light and heat.

 

 

Prizes:

1-2017 Cup of Excellence –Naturals

2-2017 Cup of Excellence –Pulped Naturals

3-2017 Rainforest Alliance / Imaflora Award 1st place

4-2017 BSCA Aroma –Naturals 6th place

5-2017 Minas Gerais Quality Contest 1st place Naturals, for Chapadas de Minas

6-2017 Minas Gerais Quality Contest1st place Pulped Naturals, for Chapadas de Minas

7-illycaffè’s Sustainable Supplier of the Year 2014/2015

8-2015-2017 Ernesto Illy Prize for Espresso finalist for three consecutive years

9-2017-2018 Coffee of the Year finalist

10-2018 High Achievement on Sustainability award by Rainforest Alliance

11 –2019 Cup of Excellence11th place –Natural

 

These many prizes are a testament to the fact that Ecoagricola, virtually single headedly, “created” with success a respectable, new specialty coffee origin in Brazil

 

Tasting Notes -

 

Floral berry, Tropical Mango, Tart Lemon

 

Country Brazil
Region Serra do Cabral, Minas Gerais
Farm Ecoagricola
Variety Yellow Catucaí
Altitude 1,100 metres above sea level

Proc. Method

Tropical Fermentation

 

Brazil – Ecoagricola Serra do Cabral Tropical Fermentation

£12.00Price
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