I think most would loudly claim to know what a standard Brazilian coffee profile has to offer. As the largest producing region in the world, it obviously gets around. But that’s what made this first stop in Brazil so interesting.
Since the early 2000’s, Carmo de Minas has built a reputation as a gem on the Brazilian coffee scene. Year after year, it wins Cup of Excellence awards. In fact, Carmo has come home with several first place winners and in 2006, they won 16 out of the top 20 spots (which has to be the first for a single region). With elevations that can easily reach 1400 meters, Carmo coffees can develop quite the complexity. So much so, that as I cupped I was drawn to make comparisons with coffees from Central America. They were delicate and citrus-filled, nearly astringent, but balanced with a deep honey base. Wow! Intensely fruity, but utterly clean and full of body. The coffees made me question not whether I like them — but how do we use them?
What is even better is that this community seems to be really getting behind the quality/specialty programme. Jacques of Carmo Coffees acted as host to me and can be credited with a lot of the specialty push in the region. He is a fifth generation coffee farmer and thinks very intelligently, merging old world farming practices with a newer, specialty model. Jaques and the others at Carmo Coffees act essentially as brokers, but they work on a simple and distinct principle; quality means better prices. If that sounds crude in any way, let me assure you that it isn’t. Carmo’s philosophies are entrenched in working and being a part of this community for its well being. They are incredibly keen to improve the buying practices of the specialty consumer side and really are trying to motivate the drive for quality by acting as a communications medium for the farmer.
Carmo was a beautiful first stop, and has me elated about the coffees in Brazil.