Sao Gotardo

A new chapter in coffee quality production at COOPADAP

On May 29th, our co-op, COOPADAP (Agricultural Cooperative of PADAP), started writing a new chapter in coffee quality production. Since May last year, we’ve been talking to PhD. professor Flavio Borém, about a consulting project to our producers. Since 1997, he has been teaching at Federal Lavras University and he’s a nationally and internationally well-respected researcher for coffee scientific articles and for the book “Handbook in Coffee Post-Harvest Technology”.

After negotiating the investment for the consulting services, defining the project goals and schedule, we finally had the kick off that happened on May 29th for a group of twelve producers focused in improving coffee quality.

According to Professor Borém, there are 10 concepts related to specialty coffee production:

1)    The specialty coffee is formed at the coffee plantation area. The producer must know the coffee plots (in Brazil we call it “talhão”) and each one potential. Then different sensorial profiles must be separated.

2)    Only healthy and well-nourished plantations will result specialty coffee. The soil must be well covered by organic material and vegetal cover to protect it from sun heat. The earth must be chill.

3)    The harvest planning must be aligned with the capacity of post-harvesting infra-structure. It doesn’t make sense saving money making use of mechanical harvesting but then losing coffee quality on drying patios.

4)    When considering coffee matureness and harvesting it mechanically, specialty natural coffee must be harvested with a maximum of 20% of immature fruits (frutos verdes) and for specialty pulped natural a maximum of 30%. It’s preferable having a tolerance for immature fruits to explore the maximum potential of ripe (cereja) and a little bit over-ripe and dry cherries (passa, seco or bóia).

HINT: coffee with pendulum is not totally mature and coffee without pendulum is mature.

5)    The quality can improve during post-harvesting process. If adequate techniques are applied during coffee post-harvesting the quality might improve and you reduce the risk of losing quality potential that already comes from the cherries. For instance, one coffee processed as Natural may result in better final score than processed as Pulped Natural or vice-versa.

Coffee producers and their team cupping coffees from several countries of origin 

6)    It’s possible producing specialty coffee using any kind of coffee process! That is Natural, Pulped natural (in Brazil we it’s possible producing 3 types of pulped natural in the same wet milling structure that are CD1, CD2 and CD3, which mean depulped ripe cherry, depulped unripe cherries and depulped over-ripe cherries, respectively), and Washed processes. It depends on infra-structure, logistics, coffee potential and most importantly the Coffee buyer!

7)    The hygiene is a critical success factor because without it excellent coffee may be contaminated. So, every post-harvesting structure must be cleaned and “shining” every day!

8)    More uniformity and less risk are synonyms for quality. In the end, producing coffee quality is about reducing risks. For every new attempt in coffee process make both questions: (1) Is it going to result in more uniformity? (2) Is it going to reduce risks?

Example: does using a wet milling washer-separator results in more uniformity? YES, because it separates the ripe cherries from the over-ripe and dry ones. Does it reduce risk? YES, because there are less unripe fruits.

Professor Flavio Meira Borem at Coopadap

9)    The coffee drying process can reduce the coffee quality. If coffee cherries dry at a high loss of moisture rate it can damages the quality. There are expected drying times for each process, also according to each local climate context.

10) The coffee quality reduces along storage period. To minimize the loss of quality Natural dry cherry coffee can be stored in tulhas (wooden cells) for a minimum period of 30 days to equilibrate the moisture and once hulled sounds just like fresh coffee.

If you want to learn more about Professor Borem research, projects, articles, presentations, etc. in coffee post-harvest technology I highly recommend accessing his website where he shares lots of content he has produced along his career.

The region of Sao Gotardo or my hometown

Coffee plantation

São Gotardo's official flag with coffee tree

São Gotardo is a small town located in the Midwest of Minas Gerais. Rio Paranaíba, Ibia and Campos Altos are other cities that integrate the region of São Gotardo. We are a microregion inside the Cerrado Mineiro, the only coffee producing region in Brazil that holds a denomination of origin.

In 1973 an ambitious rural settlement project called PADAP - Programa de Assentamento Dirigido do Alto Paranaíba, in English (Alto Paranaiba Guided Settlement Agricultural Program) that involved the Brazilian government, Minas Gerais state and the city of São Gotardo governments in partnership with the Agricultural Cooperative of Cotia set the kick off for farming activities in this unexplored area of Cerrado. This cooperative used to be the largest one in Brazil, formed by Japanese immigrants and Japanese descendants. The entity was responsible for selecting a group of young producers, the pioneers, whose mission was developing agriculture in the region.

A united and strong Nippo-Brazilian community was established in the city of São Gotardo. Until the end of 1990's the pioneers' children attended the Japanese school. We had many cultural and sports activities and meetings in our association. Today we have fewer activities, although we try to keep some Japanese traditions.

After more than 40 years, the region of São Gotardo is nationally well known for the quality of its agricultural production. The main products like carrots, potatoes, and garlic supply many urban centers all over the country. There are also avocado, sugar beet, soybean, corn, wheat and other crops. We say that we are in blessed region that allow us growing many things.
What about Coffee? Coffee is also one of our main products. The region is recognized for producing an excellent coffee due to its climate, soil and altitude conditions that are particularly different if compared to other Cerrado Mineiro areas. The region presents hot days and cool nights, an average cooler temperature throughout the year and altitude that varies from 1.000 to 1.300 meters above sea level. A combination of these factors allow us to do such a farming rotation.

Today the region wants to be a protagonist in specialty coffee production. Proof of that are the consistent results from our producers in several Illy's awards and last year at Cup of Excellence Naturals we had excellent results, considering that it was the first attempt of some producers. Our region had two awarded coffees from Edson Tamekuni and, my father, Niculau Minami