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COOPADAP, Experimental Farm

Minas Gerais, Cerrado Mineiro, Rio Paranaiba, Brazil
Partner since: 2020 Traceable to: Demonstration Farm Altitude: 1140
Processing:

Cherries are harvested by hand at peak maturity, then immediately set out to dry in 4cm thick piles on concrete patio, raking 10 times a day until coffee reaches ~16% after about 8 days, at which time they are transferred to a slow and low-temp drum dryer for three, eight hour days of drying at 35 degrees (95 F); coffee is rested between sessions overnight to homogenize humidity. After three days the coffee is at 11.2%; it is then rested for a minimum of 30 days before transport to warehouse.

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Community Context

Cooperativa Agropecuária do Alto Paranaíba (Coopadap) took its first steps on September 28, 1994, organizing farmers around the city of São Gotardo, Minas Gerais. The prior cooperative, Cooperativa Agrícola de Cotia, had gone bankrupt, but more active members saw the value of cooperativism and bought out the facilities to give it a second life. At the time this region was known as the nation’s capital for carrots, but this coop quickly branched out to support coffee and other grains grown by it’s members.

From the first they focused on technology, research and infrastructure. They pride themselves on values that always prioritize quality and individualized service, delivered with empathy, professionalism and paying attention to the needs of every member.

In-keeping, over the years, the coop has become a place where the needs of members have found a home in the form of programs that provide social support, ecological protection and insight into quality. One aspect of this is ‘Fazenda Estação Experimental’, the experimental station, a living laboratory where the coop can probe the limits of what’s possible, and bring this knowledge back to members.

Country Context

Brazil is to other coffee-growing countries as Jupiter is to other planets – huge, and deserving a category of its own. But despite its size, we don’t look to Brazil as a source of specialty; we were once told that asking for a sample of SSFC 17/18 is like asking for a sample of a ‘big mac’.

This, however, is an old view from an older generation. We now have a younger crop of farmers entering the specialty scene – this generation was raised with the Internet, knows 21st-century coffee, and are excited to find out what’s possible for their family’s farm.

But it’s a struggle to convince parents that this new approach is not just youthful fantasy – with one approach working so well for so long, it’s hard to take specialty seriously. This battle seems to be happening inside households across Brazil, as city-dwelling, college-educated sons and daughters return to the family farm to help their baby-boomer parents prepare for retirement.

Despite this tension, wherever we look we see small successes building a case for specialty, one win at a time. It could be glowing feedback, a good yield, a high price or even just the smallest recognition by someone outside the family. And the case is growing especially strong in the area around Sao Gortado where we find Yuki Minami and Aequitas coffee educating farmers on what they have and what it’s worth. Here we find farmers in their 20s and 30s standing on the shoulders of giants; they are looking near into the future, and see specialty where we in the US have not yet.