Head Roaster George was lucky enough to go on his first trip to ‘origin’ (what we call coffee producing countries) recently. The trip was organised by one of our importing partners, Kamba Coffee. Here George answers your questions on his trip:
Why is the coffee on the trees red, not brown?
Brown coffee beans are the roasted seed of the red (or yellow or orange, even pink) coffee cherry. Coffee cherries are fruit, deliciously sweet when ripe as I found out on the farms!
Processing the coffee cherry so that the seed is ready to be roasted has a big impact on the coffee’s flavour. You can read more about that here.
What was the best thing you ate?
When we visited Pedra Grande, Felipe and Fernando had laid on an amazing table of food and coffee on a big rock at the top of their farm! The bolo de fuba (cornbread) was incredible. We also had some delicious local delicacies at the Scanavachi’s farmhouse - lots of different cakes, salty cheese with goiabada (a delicious homemade guava paste, a bit like quince cheese) and warm pao de queijo (cheese bread). They really do love their cheese!
Another highlight was the ‘kilo’ restaurants - big buffets where you weigh your plate and pay by weight. There was constant chat in the team about which food would be the best value for money…
What’s the preferred way of brewing coffee out in Brazil?
We encountered a lot of bean to cup machines at farm offices which produced some surprisingly good espressos. Almost every Brazilian home will have a malita brewer, a bit like a rustic v60.
Out and about at cafes, most specialty places offered a few filter brew methods. I had a delicious washed process (quite rare to find in Brazil) v60 at a lovely cafe in Pocos de Caldas. We also visited a very traditional cafe – the kitchen was kitted out with two big espresso machines instead of ovens and baristas instead of chefs who made countless coffees.
Did you drink a caipirinha?!
We had an amazing evening at Bruna’s dad’s farm house (he runs a coffee exporting business in Pinhal) where the farm manager taught us how to make the best caipirinhas. We went and picked fresh oranges, lemons and limes from the garden.
There was also a special bottle of cachaca (a spirit made from sugarcane) – so good you could happily sip it neat. The hospitality in Brazil was incredible, a country that obviously prides itself on looking after locals and crazy British coffee roasters alike.
Favourite memory from the trip?
Too many to choose from! Certainly visiting my first ever coffee farm, Patricia at Santo Antonio, will live long in the memory. The hospitality we received from Felipe and Fernando at Pedra Grande, and from the Scanvachis was unforgettable. I’ll also remember the in depth chats about the idiosyncrasies of coffee roasting on long bus journeys with fellow coffee roasters (not forgetting our bus driver Edison’s cheeky smile). And that was the real highlight for me – spending time with others in our industry, sharing ideas and challenges, asking for advice and making some (hopefully!) life long friends.
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