Sao Paulo is a relatively new farm having been established as recently as 2008. However, there is by no means a lack of experience since the farm is owned by the Montanari family and is managed by fourth generation brothers, Roger and Marcello. Under the watchful eye of their highly experienced coffee farming father, the brothers are pushing the boundaries of modern coffee farming in Brazil.
The Montanaris are descendants of Italian immigrants and Fazenda Sao Paulo is located close to the town of Patrocinio in the heart of the Cerrado in Minas Gerais. The altitude is 950 to 1,100 MASL. The farm is one of three owned by the family and the other two, Rainha de Paz and Montanari III, are located close by. Like many farms in the region, most of the tasks have been mechanised – in particular the harvesting and incredibly the three farms are run by just seven members of staff. It’s astonishing to think that a farm of a similar size as Sao Paulo (70 hectares) in a country such as Nicaragua or Guatemala, would require more than 500 people to pick the coffee during the peak of harvest. The flat lay of the land is seldom seen in other coffee producing countries and it is this factor that allows for mechanical harvesting.
The Montanaris have angled their neat ‘hedgerows’ of coffee at 330 degrees from north as they have ascertained that this will provide the trees with the longest hours of sunlight. 17 varietals are grown across the farm to ensure that ripening and harvesting can be planned across a greater period of time to avoid bottlenecks at the processing areas and drying patios. These include Mundo Novo, Topazio, Catuai, Rubi, Acaia and Yellow Bourbon. These coffees are processed separately and as such we can cup them all to find the very best to import into the UK.
A test plot on the farm allows the family to grow new and different varietals which can be studied for yield, resistance to disease and cup value. Marcello is an agricultural engineer so takes a keen interest in this area as he plans out the future of the farm. A range of varietals will of course bring about different cup profiles and the same can be said of the processing techniques that are employed too.
This lot of pulped natural Catuai has been picked and pulped to remove all mucilage before being immediately dried on African style raised beds for air drying. This results in a cleaner cup than natural processed coffee, with brighter notes and a lighter body but with greater complexity. In recent times a new pulping system has been introduced that allows for a reduction in water by 75%. All processing takes place on the farm and the coffee is only hulled at the point of export and packed into grain pro sacks in order to preserve flavour and freshness.