The third wave of coffee is all about the hunt for high-quality, sustainability and traceability. I believe, that the importance of quality and sustainability are clear to all of us. But why exactly is traceability so important?
Probably the best and most reliable way to achieve the understanding where and how a particular coffee was grown, is to know its origin. The philosophy comes from the fact that better we know the elements of certain coffee growing, better we know what to expect out of it. What should be the impact on the final drink, that is a result of the soil, the altitude, the microclimate and seasonality, the coffee variety, the farming and processing methods, diseases, or something else altogether. Only when a roaster and end consumer are able and willing to trace a cup of coffee back to its origin, the connection can be complete. Only when we know how to roast it, prepare it and serve it, we can also know what to expect from all those elements in our cup. In order to guarantee that connection, the growers from Cerrado decided to provide complete traceability of their coffees.
The Cerrado region is the second largest habitat in Brazil, just after the Amazonian rainforest. It is known for its iron-rich soils, rolling hills, and large plateaus and it accounts for more than 20% of the country's area, extending marginally into Paraguay and Bolivia. It includes forest savanna, wooded savanna and park savanna and lies in the center of Brazil. Characterized by enormous ranges of plant and animal biodiversity, World Wide Fund for Nature named it the biologically richest savanna in the world. The climate in this region is limited to two dominant seasons throughout the year, wet and dry, where during southern winter, from April to September, the region has extremely dry season. With average precipitation between 800 and 2000 mm and annual temperatures between 22 and 27 °C it offers ideal ambient for specialty coffee growing.
Even though Brazil has a long history in growing coffee, in Cerrado it is being planted just after the devastating black frost of 1975 that forced growers from the Parana region to relocate north to Cerrado and other Brazilian regions. Soon, they realized that the natural factors are very keen to growing coffee. Today, coffee is produced in 55 districts by over 4,500 growers on 175,000 hectares of farmland with yields of approximately 5 million bags per year. The coffee is grown in rich soil that the natives call “Terra Roxa” or “Red Earth”. The Cerrado soils are always well-drained, with low pH and low calcium and magnesium. Besides its elevated altitude between 900 and 1250 m, iron-rich soils, fire regime, hydrology and soil fertility are thought to be most influential in determining quality of specialty coffee growing in the region.
Traceability, Certification and Protected Geographical Indication. To connect and protect all those information, the growers from the Cerrado region introduced the QR code, that holds all the information about coffee, grower and the mill, so the roaster or the end consumer can get to know better the coffee he is roasting and enjoying. The sensorial characteristics of each lot are classified and receive a report produced by a SCA Q Grader. The Cerrado Mineiro region was also the first region, recognized by the Brazilian government as a "Protected Geographical Indication" or PGI. Only the coffees grown on certified farms that are inside the Protected Geographical Indication of the Cerrado region can be certified.
To obtain the certification, the coffee farms are audited annually by external audit contractors, with objective to guarantee that the coffees are produced using good agricultural practices and with social and environmental responsibility. Here, the Origin and Quality certification process of Cerrado region follows the methology and protocol of the Specialty Coffee Association, SCAA. A Geographical Information System permits the visualization of the certified properties via satellite, as well as incorporating a great quantity of information about the area where the coffees were produced. The coffee lots are then stored in warehouses that are also certified. A certificate is emitted and each bag receives an official seal with a bar code that can be tracked via website http://www.cerradomineiro.org/.
In the region with ideal natural factors, such as great terroir and suitable climate conditions, the coffees already result in unique characteristics that cannot be found anywhere else. They are coffees with identity and quality, that are a combination of climate, soil, terrain, altitude and know-how of thousands of people and a special approach to coffee growing, that is being developed in Cerrado. Striving to even improve the quality of their coffees, in recent years there are many growers that are investing and innovating in different approaches of processing, and optimization of irrigation and fertilization. These are just some of the areas where innovative growers are achieving excellent results and gaining on quality.
While cupping through incredible coffees from Cerrado and selecting coffees for European market, we have had quite some difficulties, as there are really many excellent producers. However, we knew what we or better say, what our roasters and their costumers want. Besides searching for a balanced and stable Cerrado coffee with typical characteristics, such as chocolate and nuts, we wanted to offer some coffees with delicate fruitiness and acidity, that makes the coffees interesting for some single origin Turkish, espresso or drip coffees. After inumerous cuppings, we have selected. If you are curious and want to cup our selection contact us and we will send you some samples.