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Monday, 23 May 2016

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 5 Issue 3 May 2016

For those that followed us on our trip to Colombia and Brazil, we hope you enjoyed the photos and posts if you were able to get them. This is a short newsletter about our event as well as the Limited Reserve offering of coffees about to happen.

Observations from Our Origin trip

 We will be running an event where we show pics from our trip, taste some coffees from the areas we went to and give you some first hand perspective from Brazil and Colombia. We hope we can cram all of this into an hour and will be running the event on June 2 at night, starting at 18:30. The event will cost R200 and will include all the coffees, some very light snacks and a take away box of a Microlot of one of the farms we visited on the trip.

To book there are a number of options: you can email us at; go to the facebook event here and it will be available on Cape Coffee Bean’s website soon too.

Limited Reserve Edition Coffees

 From next week we will be offering three limited reserve coffees.
  1. Hacienda Esmeralda Reserve Geisha
  2. Ninety Plus Level 7 Kemgin
  3. Ninety Plus Level 12 Nekisse
The coffees are very limited, there will be only 2kgs of roasted coffee of the Esmeralda and the Ninety plus coffees will be about 30kgs each. We will only be roasting these coffees when there are enough orders, and we will be offering them exclusively to those people on this mailing list that have ticked the option “Notify me of limited edition coffees”.

We plan to offer the Esmeralda first, followed by the Kemgin and then the Nekisse and will repeat the Kemgin and Nekisse on a fortnight basis. These coffees are only available in 200g special reserve tins (see pics) and will sell for between R310 (for the Esmeralda) and R400 (the Nekisse) per tin. We are the very first South African Roaster to offer the Ninety plus coffees and hope to offer them again if they sell. These coffees are some of the best coffees available on the planet and we really are excited to offer them. So if you are keen, make sure you set your options so that you can receive the offer (although we will also add the offer on our various social media feeds).

New Coffees and coffee news

 Let’s start with the good news first. We have some amazing Burundi coffees from the Long Mile Project. We were able to secure a natural processed Gishubi and a honey processed Nkonye. The Gishubi will only be available at Quaffee AT Buitenverwachting and the Nkonye will only be available at Quaffee AT the Vineyard. These coffees are the best Burundi's we have ever tasted and we are hoping to secure more. We tasted them in December last year but they have only just reached us. We are hoping that we can get a new crop quicker this time.

The disappointing news is about our Colombians, especially Los Naranjos and Los Idolos. We are running very low on these and we have not had a status update for 2 weeks on the shipment that was ordered in March. We suspect that the coffees will only get here in June. We are trying to prevent this delay in future and Caravela (our supplier in Colombia) is trying to make a plan but since we can only order enough coffee (due to the large outlays of cash) we have to live with this issue. We have sourced a good enough coffee from Huila so we are hoping the Relationship Blend will last until then.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Impressions of Pântona - April 26

Our escort for the farm that we once sourced natural Yellow Borbon from and recently pulp natural UVA was Marcus. He is the general manager on the farm. The farm is owned by Ferroro he has 2 other farms.

They have 20,000 square meters of raised beds on the farm, and are planning to put more since they are trying to use their two drying patios, one sized 1800 m2 and 1500 m2, less.

They use the automatic pickers that take everything from everything from green to ripe. But first they pick the top half which ripens first. Then they waiting till top is ready again then pick the bottom, and repeat. Since the top gets more sun it ripens quicker. The automatic packers can be set to different vibration levels and this then prevents very green coffee from being picked.

They have been introducing a process to clean and process coffee that fall to the ground this is to be release to the local market.

The separation of the various ripe levels is done after picking. Where floaters ripe and unripe are separated.

They have experimented with different fermentation times per harvest and the coffee are they dried on raised beds. At the moment fermentation is done for around 36 hrs or until the pH is 4. This is particular to their experiments.

The water from the washing process is placed in 60 million liter reserve where organize are separated and the tress are watered with the water.

100 hectares currently irrigated plan to do whole farm irrigation is under ground.

We then started to look at some of the varieties on the farm. The biggest way for Brazilian coffees to differentiate each other is on variety, so farms have many. Pântana have 200 varieties and work with the Brazilian Coffee Research organization with these, we saw a few growing and also in the managers offices:

We walking through the farm where I picked and a tasted Ibairi, little like a mildly sweet cherry. Very round (see below).

Second variety it tried was UVA, we have sold this coffee and while it sold well I felt it was missing the body of a natural, it was a pulp natural that we got so that may have been why. You can we the difference below (Ibairi vs UVA):

While we were waking around the told me that if it rains during harvest it damages the coffee so that all aspects diminish.

We walked past a Yellow Tupi that was tall and narrow, Sandra from Expocaccer stood next to the one to give us an idea how big it was.

Oldest tree is small for Age of 25 years.variety is Acacia.

We walked back to the office when we spoke to the man involved in the control of Fungus and bugs. Everyday the walk the farm and they track the infestation levels of pests using GPS. He captures position and pests and fungus found. They track the most frequent. Like rust, nunchaku ariliaria. Pest and bugs too. That plant lave catepilar broca. Spiders that create a fungus. Each red is a point they found something green nothing. This is all consolidated on a website, so they know exactly what to treat where.


These are the sort of practices that they do with fungus and bug, and do the same with chemical compounds in the soil that they also treat very localize. the also log all wildlife they see as part of the RF alliance. This is part of the reason why they have one many sustainability and quality awards. Pantâno won best natural of Minas Gerais last two years.

Chatted after naturals are dried for 5 days. The dried on the beds until the moisture level drops from over 40% to 18% then they are dried in the dryers until 11%

If it rains during the patio dry or raise patio it is a night mare. Lots are marked and mainly sold for local consumption. Rained coffee is treated with limestone. If done correctly it can be saved. When on the raised beds coffee is continually tossed to prevent fermentation.

We then went for a look at the Yellow Bourbon and the UVA which was very abundant.

They have over 200 varieties on the farm. Some are just codes that they just run blind tests on. I think we saw around 8 today.

Long line is yellow partial naturally yellow Tapazi cross Yellow Bourbon and Cataui.

After final raised or patio drying the dry at 35 degrees to make sure that on and naturals are 11 % humidity in driers

We ended with lunch. We had Feijao with farofa on top and meat on the side, tradition lunch.

Great to visit a farm that we have bought 2 varieties from and see the effort they put in to make sure each crop has a good percentage of quality lots.

Montanari Visit 25 Apr 2016

The Montanari family own four farms. They were originally not on my list of coffee farms to visit, but having heard about what they are doing I was privileged enough to visit. The farm is in its third generation and the younger son (Marcelo Montanari – Owner of Fazenda São Paulo)  is very involved in the farm. He is a qualified agronomist and lectures at the local university which hold an number of coffee related courses. In fact Sandra also lectures there, Sandra was our primary guide at Expocaccer (see pic at previous farm or next to Acacia tree at Pântano).

Pic below is Fri Quaffer on their bags Expocaccer prepared for them. Also you can see their sustainability award they received.

So some of what follows is quiet intense, and relies on the fact that you should have read lessons learnt on Brazilian farming.

The Montanari's have studied sugar content correlation natural (dry process), pulp natural (PN) and washed coffees and final cupping score. The results have shown that there is no correlation between sugar content of the cherry when picked for the natural and pulp natural, however there may be a correlation with the washed coffees, they are looking at this. However these results are different from the ones we have heard regarding experiments in other countries.

Brazil does not allow the import of any coffee into the country so many of the large coffee companies are requesting that the farms produce washed coffees. The São Paulo farm was selected by Nestle (considered very important in Brazil). Nestle looked at the soil the altitude and the rainfall and decided they wanted to use the farm to do experimentation with washed. The washed is de-pulped and left in mucilage 24 hrs then 12 hrs in water, until the water's pH is 4. If it goes below then  it damages the bean. If after 24 hours the pH I be between 4-5 then the coffee will cup well, other wise there was an error.

We then watched a presentation that he had prepared. Here is summary of the points:
  • 100 % of their water, used in the wet process and the separating processing is reused.
  • They makes so much compost they actually sell it
  • The farm is 220 ha and has an allocated reserve for the Rain forest Alliance certification
  • Only 5 permanent staff
  • Machines do the work of 200 people
  • They looked at how some growers are planting to maximize sun using solar cycle, and although controversial they have done it on part of their farm, there is however a choice, either lots of sun during flowering season in October or lots of sun during fruiting season in March and April. They think it is best to have a mixture.
  • The have seen the results of raised beds and are moving to raised beds, it improves cup quality significantly.
  • Flower focus planting and cherry mature focused planting have been experimented on.
  • They are attempting to retain a high level of Ethanol in the coffee. A lot of farmers try reduce, they theorize that keeping it stable through the cherries may helps the plant to produce a more consistent maturity and also the longer the time cherry takes to develop the more sweetness. The consistent growth and maturity help with producing more quality cherry.
  • The have found that a decent flowering season causes inconsistency later in the crop. Because it happens much later.
  • New methods are to add a mulch forming mixed crop between the rows of coffee during the rest season. This puts nutrient back into the earth for the coffee to use, at the correct root levels of the coffee.
  • A lot of research to reduce the need for composting and attracting micro-organisms in the soil naturally. The deep and shallow roots help coffee which although it has a deep root 90% of nutrients come for near the top bit of the soil.
  • They have found that allowing the bio mass to grow free has attracted beetles that eat bora. These beetles occur naturally in the free range crops.
  • They produce 50 tonne per hector of dry bio mass.
  • This has a result of 225,000 liters of table water increase per hector.
  • 53,000 tones of CO2 retained by the extra bio mass, making them carbon negative, an amazing feat.

When then took a look at first the mechanical sorter then the farm, Which was next to their drying patio.

The mechanical sorter separates on weight, green and ripe sink. Green ones you cannot squash so those are separated. Green they leave in box for 24 hrs then ferment and then reprocess.

The floaters they treat differently and are used in internal market. Over ripe also float you treat different and they can be used for capsule coffee has a lot of body and sugar.

We then took a look around the farm it looked much healthier than the farm we had seen before the biomass and water savings are being reflected in the trees. the bio mass is left to run wild and then reintroduced into the soil after harvest.

They also had yellow Topazio this is a mixture of yellow Cataui and red Mundo nuvo

Lessons Learnt about Brazilian Coffee Apr 2016

While sharing all the info on the farms I started realizing it may be a good idea to post a general post on how specialty coffee works in the Brazil, according to what I gathered from conversations we had while traveling many kilometers in the two days we visited, where it come from and how does a country that is so mechanized product specialty grade coffees?

After the Second World War Japan actively promoted emigration to many countries. the most popular ended up being Brazil. In fact the Japanese population in Brazil is the biggest outside Japan.

The Japanese worked the farms (including the coffee farms) and as they gained interest in the country started buying farms and this is probably where the quality processing started.

Before the 90's all coffee was stripped picked and processed as one lot on drying patios the so called natural process (in the coffee world this has now been named the dry process to prevent confusion, since what other companies call the natural process is actually the washed process).

it is thought that the Japanese, then the German and Italian immigrants started concentrating on quality. This created a demand for these higher quality coffees, and this promoted growth. There was a great frost in the 70's that destroyed the Brazilian crop and this attracted these immigrant to purchase farms that were going cheap, as farmers left the land. The farms were re-established and around the 90's Brazil started automating all its coffee.

The automation was designed around separating the coffees into different ripeness level. since this had started already. The coffee are mechanically picked and separated per lot and dried per lot.

An interesting fact is that since most of Brazil's coffee is technically low land grown, they have tested weather or not growing in shade at these altitudes has helped. The Brazilian Coffee Research organization worked with farmers testing shade and none shade grown coffee, and found that the coffees being produce in Brazil had no noticeable benefit to growing in shade. This is why almost all the coffee in Brazil is grown in plantations with tractor width rows  of coffee sometimes kilometers long.

So this means coffee in Brazil is not shade grown and is now not hand picked.

Break-down of Brazilian Coffee
  • Natural – 87.5% to 89.5%
  • Pulped Natural – 10% to 12%
  • Washed – 0.5%
So what is the basic process.

Firstly they wait until the dry months for the coffee to be ready this is normally May-June. Normally by early May the top part of the coffee trees are ready, or mostly ready (there are some complication here but just exclude them at the moment). The mechanical picker are then set to a specific vibration and to only pick from the top and each row is mechanically picked twice.

At this point most of the coffee from the top of the bush that is green, ripe or over ripe will be picked. They are then mechanically separated using screens and water. All over ripe coffee, sticks and damaged coffee floats. This is removed first. Then the ones that sink are broken up in to green and ripe. This is done by pressing the cherry and if it is soft then it is ripe if not it is separated to be processed as green coffee. The green coffee and over ripe coffee are removed and processed in their own way. Some of the over ripe have unique characteristics and are processed in separate lots. The green and damaged are processed and normally released to the local market. the red is what will end up at the co-operative, or what the farm may sell direct.

Frog Quaffer sitting in front of one for the mechanical serperator at Montanari farm São Paulo. 

The coffee is then processed using the initial process the producer want to use natural (as is) pulp natural (they remove the fruit) or washed (normally stored in cherry then washed then fermented for a determined time).

At this point the coffee is dried using either patios or raised beds (these are becoming more and more dominant, since the producers are happy with the results). Weather on patio or raised beds they are tossed regularly. If it should rain during this process the lots are separated and normally sold to the local market.

Once the coffee has reached the desired moisture level (it normally takes 5-6 days to go from around 40% to 18%) the coffee is further dried in driers that run at no higher than 35 deg C) so that the moisture content is lowered to the level the producer wants (around 11% for the farms we went too).

At this point the coffee is either shipped to the co-operative or more typically stored in wooden silos like at Fazenda Freitas for up to a week, where it settles. Then it is packaged in 1 tonne bags a shipped to the co-operative (or in some cases direct to clients). The samples and the notes taken on the sample at Expococcer. They also cup these and if they find something interesting investigate further.

Above Producers bags waiting to be processed by the size and defect sorter that the co-operative run.

Below one of the defect removal sorting trays.

We have covered what happens to the coffee once it goes to the co-operative we visited, so you can red more under that section.

This makes a lot of sense in Brazil. The country is based n socialist principles and having societies run by the farmers (or co-operatives) is the way that bests suits their culture, and it works for them. They also are the largest producer of coffee, so it is working for the rest of the world too.

If co-operatives like Expococcer are then separating the coffees first on screen, then cupping score (for screen 17 and 18 only) and then paying extra for quality and certification this system is a way to get specialty grade coffee en mass to the world.

Expococcer are working hard to maintain their 30% aim of production being specialty grade. But there are other co-operative that do not they bulk blend the coffees and ship them as per screen size and certification only. The largest co-operative in Brazil does just that. And that co-operative is responsible for more coffee than many large coffee growing countries produce.

With initiative like the BSA that allow full traceability back to source, and only for coffees that have good cupping scores this is probably the best quality coffee can be in the largest producing country with no real highlands and very few almost no small producers. And To rely on a sample size and mechanical processes to identify the coffees, then one cup the ones that are the largest is an efficient way to achieve what they have.

The level of detail is down to the producers. If they want to concentrate on quality they get rewarded, yes at a price that is tied in to the C market but until the there is a viable alternative this is the way it will be.

And if you look at what the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange has done is this not the same? They are essentially a government controlled method to do what the farmers in Brazil have done on their own in setting up cooperatives like Expococcer.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Morning Day 1 - 25 April Brazil

Spent the morning driving through to Patrocinio with Patrick Griffin from Capricorn Coffee (refered to us by Falcon Specialty) local representative / agent with Junoir.

Over our first decent coffee for the trip, first a Chemex (which was very fruity) and then a Hario. Quite unlike you standard coffees we have had from the region, and enjoyable. We spoke about the Expocaccer Co-operative.

It is owned by all the 541 growers, that elect a 15 man council that have a president that then works with the Sergio Gerlado da Silva (the general manager) in sorting, sizing and cupping the coffees. Note: figures are remembers from broken conversation and translation from Portugese, so may not be full accurate. The local producers produce about 1.3 million bags, the also bring in an additional coffee from other non member making up a total of 2 million. This makes them the second largest cooperative in Brazil, and the largest concentrating on Quality. About 40% of the coffee is exported and around 30% of that coffee is specialty graded (80+). They have one resident Q grader (who we cupped with) and they quality control is impressive. The producers are free to sell outside the co-operative and about 300 000 bags do go that route.

The producers bring the coffees in 1 tonne bags, and a sample from each bag is selected t determine quality. The coffees are then size sorted and any screens that are 16+ or PeaBerry (they call that mocha here) are cupped and graded. the producers receive premiums depending on how much of each they produce, some listed below:
  • For screen 17+ and extra .5%
  • Cupping score of 83 - 85.75 an extra 5%
  • Cupping score of 87+ an extra 15%
  • UTZ, RFA or fairtrade and extra 1%

After we visited the trading desk which is the other side of the contracts in coffee. When they sell the coffee the contracts are signed with the base point and then added premiums. Munro Lúcio dos Santos does this. He watches all the markets all the time to determine pricing and contract offerings. I forgot that for every seller in the futures commodity market there has to be a buyer and this is him for Expocaccer.

The co-operative also takes care of hedging for the producers, all the internal and external sales, all the certifications, all marketing, and final package and export.

We popped out to lunch where we had a traditional Brazilian Fajo (I think) with a bacon top thing I cannot remember the name of.

We returned to the warehouse to look that the sizing sorting and control. the warehouse has fully electronic humidity control. Every coffee that comes into the warehouse is tag and is followed electronically. As each lot is moved it is placed over a electronic sensor in the floor which then controls it movement through the process allowing for full trace-ability to the producer. Each coffee is size and optically sorted (see pics below)

The producers by the way deliver fully processed green to Expocaccer. The coffees they produce they mechanically pick sort and process at the farm, be it washed (a small but growing percentage) natural or pulp natural. The coffees a dried and depluped at the producer. Expocaccer promote use of new methods that import even the coffee like lot separation, raised drying beds, and well implemented production operations. These shine through in the coffee and hence the producer is motivated to produce better coffees.

 The same is true for certified coffees the producer is rewarded on quality more but also certifications (1%) and this promotes that they get certified.

Very interesting morning, and learnt a lot about how important a centralize will body is to the producers. Let them concentrate on producing great coffee, and Expocaccer do the rest.