Fazenda El Progresso
Cupping notes: Overall: hazlenut and milk chocolate; sweet and creamy; decent body and balanced; good bright acidity
Farm: El Progreso, Bahia
Varietal: Catuaí, Catucaí, Yellow Topazio
Processing: Pulped natural
Altitude: 1,150 to 1,200 metres above sea level
Owner: Pedro Hugh Borré and Fabiano Borré
Town / City: Mucugê and Ibicoara
Fazenda Progresso is a relatively young coffee farm that lies at around 1,150 metres in the mountainous Chapada Diamantina region of Bahia, northern Brazil. This 22,000 hectare family business started life in 1984 as a vegetable farm and is now one of Brazil’s largest potato producers - but they only diversified into coffee relatively recently.
When Progresso was first founded, it was given its name – the same name that the family business had in Southern Brazil. The name means ‘Progress’ in English and has a direct relationship to the family’s concept and philosophy of business. It is clear (and has been for a very long time) that the name portrays the family’s commitment to movement, innovation and improvement in every working day.
Farm: Capim Branco
Varietal: 100% Yellow Catuai
Processing: Natural and dried on Patios
Altitude: Andrade Brothers (Ismael & Eduardo Andrade)
Owner: 1,100 metres above sea level
Town / City: Carmo do Paranaiba
Region: Cerrado Mineiro
Fazenda Capim Branco has been in the Andrade family since 1901. It is located in the high, green Cerrado Mineiro in the north of Minas Gerais state, on the border with Bahia State.
The Cerrado Mineiro region ranges from 1,100 to 1,250 metres above sea level, providing ideal conditions for coffee production due to the perfect balance of wet and dry seasons. Furthermore, the soils at Fazenda Capim Branco are volcanic and much of the farm is planted with the Yellow Catuaí varietal, which thrives in this environment. Attentive husbandry, such as that executed by the Andrade family, produces uniform blossoming and maturation, creating excellent conditions for processing the coffee using the natural method. In this case, ripe cherries are dried on the patio without having been pulped, producing a sweet, fruity coffee. Once the beans reach the desired humidity level, they are dry-milled to remove the dried pulp and parchment and then sorted and screened for export.
Fazenda Morada dos Passaros
Farm: Fazenda Morada dos Pássaros
Varietal: 100% Catucai
Altitude: 1,117 metres above sea level
Owner: Wanderley Franco
Town / City: Campestre
Region: Sul de Minas
Fazenda Morada dos Pássaros has long belonged to the Franco family. The family’s passion for coffee has passed from generation to generation and finds its most recent manifestation in current owner, Wanderley Franco. Wanderley is the third generation of Francos to devote himself entirely to coffee production. Today he manages the farm with his son-in-law, who will one day take over the farm.
Morada dos Pássaros is the perfect location for quality coffee production. Located in one of Brazil’s most reknowned coffee growing regions (Minas Gerais), the farm benefits from an elevation of 1,117 metres above sea level. The natural potential of the land is met by the Franco family’s devoted attention to producing the best quality coffee that they can. The farm is devoted entirely to coffee cultivation (just under a hectare is reserved for infrastructure and natural preserve. With 33 hectares of Catucaí, Mundo Novo and Catuaí trees, as one might image the labour needs are intensive. Nonetheless, Wanderley and his son-in-law do most of the work on the farm. They employ an additional four people to help out with some post- and pre-harvest activities, and during the harvest itself, approximately 12 workers are hired to help.
La Plata, Hulia
Cupping Notes: Overall: Berries, lime, pineaaple, clean
Farm: Various smallholder members of Aprocoagros
Varietal: Primarily Caturra & Colombia
Processing: Fully Washed & dried on parabolics and raised beds
Altitude: 1,900 to 2,100 metres above sea level
Owner: Various small holder farmers; 15 producers
Town / City: La Plata
Whilst Huila is naturally blessed with optimal coffee growing geography, the key to great quality coffees from the La Plata region (such as this lot) are the growers themselves. Coffee farming within the region is overwhelmingly small-scale. Indeed, approximately 80% of producers from the region farm coffee on less than 3 hectares of land. These small farms are tended by individual families with labour only very rarely being contracted out, which leads to more thorough and intensive management practices and great pride in the final product – which is, itself, an extension of the family.
It was only about a year ago that members of the large cooperative to which the producers who contributed to this lot belonged realized that their location and passion for coffee farming gave them a special edge when it came to producing high quality coffee. Seeing some of the quality initiatives and micro-lot separation that forward-thinking cooperatives around Colombia were exploring, a small group of about 20 producers broke off from the larger regional cooperative to establish their own organization – named Aprocoagrosh (quite a mouthful) - in early 2014.
As of March 2015, the organization has grown to around 30 growers (that’s 50% growth in just over a year!) and has established relationships with Mercanta’s exporting partner, Pergamino, who have worked with other cooperatives in Colombia who seek to harness quality coffee as a means to improving quality of life for their members.
Farm: Finca Veracruz
Varietal: Colombia, Caturra
Processing: Slow fermentation, washed & dried on raised beds
Altitude: 1,650 metres above sea level (avg.)
Owner: Echavarria Family
Town / City: Amagá
Santa Barbara Estate is composed of 5 sister farms that lie across three neighbouring, geographical regions - Santa Barbara, Fredonia and Amagá. Established in the 1980s, from the beginning Sr. Pedro Echavarria knew that location was crucial. Attracted by diverse microclimates, singular volcanic soils, perfect altitude and a tradition of excellence in coffee production, he established a small farm in the high Andes of Antioquia. By marrying these perfect natural conditions with hard work and efficiency, he quickly grew both the area under cultivation and the farm’s reputation.
In the last five years, Pedro’s son – also Pedro – has become more deeply involved in the workings of the farm, taking the already high quality of the coffee to new heights through experimentation in processing and increased monitoring and control of every stage of production. Pedro Jr. and Santa Barbara’s Coffee Director, Leonardo Henao Triana, manage their wet mill with a blend of art, industrial rigor and scientific curiosity. They are committed to further developing the Estate’s capacity for the highest quality coffee possible and have even brought their offerings to Medellin, Colombia through their flagship coffee shop, Pergamino.
Santa Barbara began working with Mercanta in 2011 and supplies us with a variety of astounding coffees. The Veracruz lots come from one of the Estate’s smaller farms, composed of16 hectares of coffee and a small mill.
Farm: Aquiares Estate
Varietal: Central Americano
Processing: Fully washed & dried on patios & raised beds
Altitude: 800 to 1,400 metres above sea level
Owner: Robelo Family
Town / City: Aquiares
This special ‘Don Alfonso’ coffee represents the very best of the harvest from the famous Aquiares Estate in Turrialba, Costa Rica. ‘Don Alfonso’ coffees bear the name of Don Alfonso Robelo, patriarch of one of the owning families of the estate who took over farm management in 1992 and made the social welfare of farm workers and the wider community one of his main priorities. Don Alfonso is a true visionary: his son, Diego, follows in his father’s footsteps by taking the farm to new heights.
Each ‘Don Alfonso’ lot has been specially developed and selected for Mercanta by Diego (whose quality-driven vision is transforming the farm) and his team of coffee experts. Although Aquiares, being a large farm, produces a great deal of coffee annually, the ‘Don Alfonso’ line is unique to Mercanta and is the result of close partnership and strong communication between the coffee producer/exporter and coffee importer. We are proud to be able to offer these exceptional and unique lots. We are especially proud to consider Diego and his family our friends and partners in commitment to quality and bringing the best of Costa Rica to market.
Concepcion Buena Vista
Farm: Concepción Buena Vista
Varietal: Bourbon, Bourbon 300, Caturra, Catuai
Processing: Washed Patio Dried
Altitude: 1600-1980 meters
Owner: Bernardo Solano
Town / City:
Region: San Martin Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango
Bernardo represents the third generation of coffee producers in his family. He recently extended the farm to increase production. 2017 proved to be a really hard harvest for Concepción Buena Vista due to the drought.
Bernardo continues his great farming practices and hopes the weather will cooperate in 2018.
El Bosques del San Francisco
Farm: Bosques de San Francisco
Varietal: Bourbon + Caturra
Processing: Washed Patio dried
Altitude: 1600 meters
Owner: Francis Dalton
Town / City:
The Dalton family honours its coffee growing heritage as Finca Filadelfia was the first farm in Antigua. The farm originally was used for cochinille and in 1864 transitioned to coffee with Manuel Matheau. Amidst a country wide devastating recession, Manuel Matheu borrowed the land at Filadelfia initially with the hope to start growing coffee in 1864. After returning from London where he sold his first crop, he was commissioned by the President to show small farmers how to grow coffee. The passion for coffee has been passed down 6 generations. Marta’s great grandmother Elisa ran the farm until she was 95 years old. Today my grandfather, Francis and his little brother Roberto are involved in the coffee harvest.
Merced del Potrero
Farm: Mujeres Cafetaleras la Merced del Potrero
Varietal: Typica, Mundo Novo, Criollo
Processing: Fully washed & dried on patios
Altitude: Approx. 950 metres
Owner: Approx. 256 smallholder members of Mujeres Cafetaleras la Merced del Potrero
Town / City: Merced del Potrero
Region: Pochutla (Costa), Oaxaca
La Merced del Potrero is a small coffee town overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Oaxaca’s southern Coastal region. This coffee has been produced by a group of approximately 256 women calling themselves Female Coffee Producers of La Merced del Potrero (Mujeres Cafetaleras la Merced del Potrero). Together they farm about 610 hectares of coffee in the fertile foothills of Oaxaca’s Sierra Sur (Southern Mountains). The parcels of land are located between 900 and 1000 meters above sea level, though the town itself is found at a much lower elevation than the coffee plantations which line the top of the mountain. The Female Coffee Producers of La Merced del Potrero utilize 100% organic means of production.
Cupping notes: Overall: Peach, black tea, green apple
Farm: Gititu Farmers Cooperative Society
Varietal: SL28 , SL34, Ruiru 11 and some Batian
Processing: Fully washed & dried on African beds
Altitude: 1,700 metres above sea level on average
Owner: approx. 570 smallholder members deliver to the washing stationFCS = 5,000+ active members
Town / City: Kiambu
Region: Kiambu County
This AB lot was produced by numerous smallholder farmers, all of whom are members of the Gititu Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS) delivering to Kimathi Coffee Factory (as washing stations/wet mills are called in Kenya). The factory is located near the town of Kiambu, in Kenya’s Kiambu County.
Gititu FCS is one of the oldest in Kiambu, being founded in the 1970s. Today, the FCS operates 9 washing stations within Kiambu. The total active membership is around 5,000 small holder farmers, but only a portion (around 570) of these deliver to the Kimathi Factory.
Processing at the Kimathi wet mill adheres to stringent quality-driven methods. All coffee cherries are handpicked and are delivered to the mill the same day, where they undergo meticulous sorting. Factory employees oversee the process and any underripe or damaged cherries will not be accepted by the ‘Cherry Clerk’ – one of the most important harvest-period staff, who keeps meticulous records of how much coffee each producer delivers on any given day (and thus how much payment is due once the coffee has sold). Any rejected coffee will have to be taken home again, and the farmer will need to find a place to dry it (often a tarp in the yard) to be delivered only at the end of season as low quality ‘Mbuni’ – natural process coffee that earns a very low price. Thus, farmer members are incentivised to only pick and deliver the ripest cherry that they can.
Papa New Guinea
Farm: Various smallholder farmers
Varietal: Primarily Typica and Arusha
Processing: Wet processed, dried on sails and finished in mechanical driers.
Altitude: 1600+ meters above sea level
Town / City: Kainantu, tairora Province
Region: Eastern Highlands
Most of the coffee exported out of PNG is grown by smallholder producers in ‘coffee gardens’ of around 2 hectares planted with around 2,000 trees. These are often inter-planted with leguminous trees, such as Casuarina and Albizia, which provide shade cover for the coffee. There are also a number of conventional plantations, but these declined dramatically in number after PNG declared independence in 1975 and many of the large foreign land owners left the country. Most of these plantations have since been sub-divided and are now managed by ‘block holder’ tenant farmers with labour provided by the extended family. This coffee, which has been processed at the Solwara Dry Mill, has been produced by such small holder farmers.
Near Kainantu, a market town with the feel of a frontier trading post, Ferro Yasona and his two brothers run the Solwara dry mill, which receives and processes parchment from smallholders in the region. There’s also a small purchasing point immediately outside the dry mill that receives coffee in parchment from local smallholders and pays them cash on the day. Solwara is the pidgin word for ‘salt water’, and the name was chosen to reflect the ambitions of the mill owners to source and process coffees from producers across PNG, from coast to coast.
Solwara also has a wet mill that receives ripe red cherry from nearby plantations, which is then pulped, fermented, washed and sun-dried on ‘sails’. The drying is then finished off in large Asaro driers that use hot air provided by furnaces that burn waste coffee parchment from the hulling process. These lots are typically presented to buyers as the higher quality Plantation-AX grade.
Coffee is vital to the economy of PNG and provides employment and income for a large percentage of the population. Improving the quality and the value of country’s primary cash crop is vital if livelihoods are to improve. A first step in this process is the auditing of smallholder groups by certification bodies such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Utz. This provides a means of benchmarking quality and establishing best working practices. This, in turn, can elevate quality from commodity grade to speciality grade – which can be transformative. It’s also critical is establish the traceability that specialty buyers seek and that allows them to return in successive years for the same coffee from the same community.