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Marcos Yamashita, Fazenda Recanto Alegre

Cerrado Mineiro, Ibiá, Brazil
Partner since: 2019 Traceable to: Single Farm Altitude: 900 - 1150 MASL Varietals: Red Catuai, Yellow Catuai
Processing:

Natural processed; cherries are floated then dried 7-10 days on patio, until 15-16% moisture, supported by mechanical dryers if needed down to 11.5% before resting in warehouse.

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Marcos Yamashita’s ancestors came to Brazil to work in coffee farms. His grandfather worked at Agricultural Cooperative of Cotia and later in the city of Biritiba Mirim, bringing his family to the countryside of São Paulo State. In 1986, his father, Mr. Mario Yamashita, sold tractors in the region of São Gotardo – for two years, before joining up with his former clients in a venture to plant carrots as a cooperative. The venture was a success and ten years later, in 1996, Mario bought his first farm, and two years later the second one.

Coffee production wasn’t initially planned for Yamashita’s but they started in 2000 to diversify. At first planting coffee was challenging because their experience was in vegetable production. But they learned quickly, motivated in large part by the third generation coming up with an interest. Marcos now runs a coffee farm alongside a team of professionals with a focus on producing purely specialty coffee. He runs the business with his sisters, who manage the farm’s beetroot, garlic, potato, corn, and soybean production.

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.