Specialty coffee is defined as a coffee that cups and scores above 80 points, contains zero primary defects, and less than five secondary defects. It has nothing to do with 'Specialty Cafe' listed outside of a coffee shop. That usually is reflective of the use of syrups and ingredients that will drown the taste of the actual coffee. We're looking for coffees that taste amazing on their own and have a hard working and humble producer working to grow, harvest and process the coffees, that we can work with year and year.
We're headquartered in Poços de Caldas, Minas Gerais, one of the homes of Brazilian Barbecue. So far, we've been amazed by the vast flavour profile in the coffees. We've cupped over a hundred different coffees and have found some that are touching 88, even 89 points out of 100. It's rare that a coffee surpasses 90, and if it does, that coffee will give you feelings far beyond flavour. Lots of unique flavour profiles here that we haven't found in other producing countries!
At this point, we've more or less wrapped up our selections and we're waiting to hear back on some final prices and volume availabilities. It has been a challenge visiting as many producers as we're used to on these trips, simply because of the size of Brazil. The coffees we're tasting range from literally down the street, to a flight + drive, thanks to Brazils huge land mass. On the map at the bottom, you can see the regions we've been tasting coffees from and even though they may look close, they're definitely not...
The average farm here is much larger than we're used to visiting, which has slightly thrown off what we usually look to accomplish. Generally, we're looking for smaller scale producers who we can build a relationship with and can actually have an impact on their lives. Best case scenario, they improve their quality of coffee and life, year upon year and that ultimately leads to Rosso ensuring constant improvement with our coffee menu. We'll pay premiums based on cupping scores and also making sure they're profiting - often times producers take a loss on their coffees...
We have two producers that match this profile, that we're waiting to hear confirmation on pricing and volume, so I wont go into detail. On the other hand, we've found some fantastic coffees which are coming from larger scale farms that we have confirmed. So that's exciting. More to come.
As far as the culture in Brazil goes, everyone we've interacted with is incredibly hospitable and kind. We seem to get fed massive meals every time we turn around, which we're not complaining about, but we may tack on a few pounds here. I was only planning on adding pounds of coffee to my life... Meals have included Brazilian Barbecue - oh my gosh, homemade paella - one of the best I've ever had, Italian Pizza - from a place voted best in Brazil, a meal at Dalva e Dito - a restaurant owned by famous Brazilian chef Alex Atala - and feasts of funky fruits. I'm hungry just typing that out.
Today we toured the dry milled where all of our coffee will undergo rigorous quality control protocols. After the parchment (protective layer ontop of the green bean) is removed, the beans will go through a destoner, three density sorters, two electric eye sorters, a hand sort and a cupping for shipment approval. Pretty insane amount of effort and resources invested into the quality control at the dry mill, and that should show when the coffees arrive in October-November!
Can't wait to share these amazing Brazilian coffees with you. I'm off to bed for now. We're heading to São Lourenço in the morning to catch the National Brazilian Barista Competition. Should be fun :)