Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

Once again, October means a trip to Cerrado and Minas Gerais state in Brasil. The Natural Dry-Processed coffees for the new crop are at their peak, and the Pulped Naturals are there too, a great time to seek out some new, great coffees.

The main impetus is the Cafe do Cerrado competition, which pits the best of the region against each other. Overall, the cup quality was excellent and look for us to offer some of these competition lots in the near future.

A word of warning: a lot of my little travelogue has little to do with coffee, so read what you enjoy and stop when you are inundated! -Tom 10/20/05 (Here is a link to the old version of this page, but blow are the same images in our new format.)

  1. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    A Better Play of Light:

    Sunset that evening, and a view toward Rio. You can see Sugarloaf in there somewhere. I did not go to Sugarloaf but was told by someone who did that it is, surprisingly, made of rock. It is full of high-waisted German tourists who are clearly disppointed, and thusly crowd the gift shop to buy Reisen candies. (BTW: anyone remember a bubblegum in the '70s called SugarLoaf?)

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  2. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    A colorful Friend:

    I cannot remember the name of this insect, but it is beneficial to the coffee plant...

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  3. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    A nose for Fashion:

    Vicosa, nearby college town, with some rather odd ideas of haute couture.

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  4. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    A Steak, Some Eggs, A Turnip?

    I really don't know, but the artist is a geeeeeenneeeous!

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  5. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    This cultivar has a rust-colored new leaf, which turns green as it matures, as you can see. Catuai has a green new leaf. Daterra also cultivates Bourbon and Mundo Novo varietals. Mundo Novo is a Bourbon hybrid with a very circular seed form.

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  6. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    alphonse and mr souza

    First night is to be spent at the farm of the Souza family in Campos Altos, with the aforementioned Zinho, a spry 86 years old. And to the right is the loco brasiliero Aphonse from Brauna. His brother Joao would join us later.

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  7. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Amazing Gates:

    If I could buy them and ship them to Oakland, I would.

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  8. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    amazing house

    It's hard to capture the dimnsions of the house. It has that rural vernacular in terms of architecture, a house built in a unique way, added to and altered over the years, until it becomes something totally unique, local to the area, and unreproduceable.

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  9. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    amazing ouro preto

    Pick a Size: Sloping streets in Ouro Preto mean doors of differing heights. Short people, enter to the right...

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  10. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Amusement, Everywhere:

    At the convenince store, some favorite products. Multi-use Snob. In the US, a snob is considered without any use, let alone multi-use.

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  11. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    And on the other side:

    Something a little cuter for the kids. What's going on here? Donkey-Kong visits the Aquatic Park to admire the goldfish?

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  12. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    andre at the export warehouse

    Expocaccer warehouse, Patrocinio; Andre directs operations at the dry-mill and the storage for the coop Expocaccer. Don't ask me to explain in detail, but Caccer is a "cooperative of cooperatives" basically, and Expocaccer handles all the dry-milling for coop members, and storage logistics. It's a very nice set up. And that is a LOT of coffee they have on hand.

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  13. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    My favorite beer logo from Brasil - Antarctica (pronounced ant-arch-tica here). This would be a great t-shirt, but I could not find one... and unfortunately, it was my least favorite of all the beers I tasted in Brazil. They tell me each brand varies from region to region though.

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  14. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    That's how I feel too, but actually its an acronym for a project that for which I was laughing too hard to remember the name.

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  15. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Aroponga, Matas de Minas

    This is one of the higher elevation areas in the region, with 1250 to 1300 meters. Coffee grown here has been well represented in the Cup of Excellence competition (did I mention that Brauna was a winning coffee last year?)

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  16. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Smoking is not entirely verboten in Brasil, just not in the dry-mill. On the porch, a super slick coffee themed he-man sized ashtray ... almost makes me wished I smoked. Almost.

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  17. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    At the Fair:

    Another mechanical harvester, this one a lower cost tow version.

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  18. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Back in Patrocinio:

    My favorite picture ... on black plastic put up to cover the fence at Casa de Chopp, a club called "Coffee Night". It had nothing to do with coffee, it was live music.

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  19. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    back to work

    Okay, back to the job. Here we have Neto scoring the dry fragrance on the semi-final round of cupping.

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  20. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    bag stenciler

    Finger-squasher/Bag printer: At Expocaccer, this is how all those nice bag graphics get printed on burlap.

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  21. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Bagging it:

    Green coffee exits the system, bags are sewn up, are elevated to head height, walked over to a second lift (blue, in the background), dropped off there to go skyward 40 feet or so on top of these massive stacks. You don't see pallets and forklifts at coffee mills. It's all done on the shoulders (and heads)

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  22. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    bathroom art

    The best restroom painting ever. I like the restroom nomenclature. Sometimes it was Ele and Ela. Sometimes it was Hommes and Muheres. Sometimes it was Caballeros and Damas. And here it was just this dude in a blue shirt. I like this best.

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  23. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    I am not sure if the dead care, but the gates to the cemetary are beautiful for the living. And I guess that is the audience they are for, anyway.

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  24. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Behold the Fantasy!

    A gaming room (not sure if this was machines, or a internet gaming house called a LAN house in Brasil). In any case, awesome art.

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  25. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    It's been known for a long time that you could find feremented beans in coffee by looking at it under black light. This idea has been taken farther at Daterra, but for now, here are some images from their test lab, of what I am talking about. Here is a good sample that has 2-3 defect fermented seeds in the center. They appear as white.

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  26. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Halloween? Some nice tags by local Patrocinio graffitti artist "Boo"

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  27. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Boy, I Taste Good!

    A favorite of mine is the animal product with the animal mascot endorsing it, saying, in essence, "Eat Me, It's Okay!" The fact this one actually is eating himself is just frosting on the cake of enjoyment.

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  28. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Tallying up the results. This was not the finals because we used paper cupping forms. In the final rounds we were able to use Mane Alves' new PalmPC-based cupping program. It took a moment to get used to (especially when you make cryptic side-bar notes to yourself all the time). But basically it was an awesome and convenient system to used, Behold the future.

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  29. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Brauna microlots

    One unique feature of Brauna is an unparalleled ability to keep each lot separate. Each sack here represents a particular date of picking, from a particular plot of land. They maintain this information throughout the milling process, able to offer coffee in these specific lots or cupping each and combining to create a cup with greater dimension. All this effort takes a true "estate" coffee system, and autonomy in all the processing steps. That said, I wish Joao would put his shirt back on - egad!

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  30. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Cafe Zinho.

    The man in the center is the father of Bruno Souza, by favorite Brasilian coffee seller, and at 86 he will look you straight in the eye and speak Portuguese for hours. He doesn't care, he has lots of energy and lots to say. If you don't understand, so what! He goes by the nickname Zinho (pr. Zeen-yo) and that happens to be what "drip coffee" is called in Brasil, a Cafe Zinho. He came down to the Fair to hang out, before we went off to see his farm. And watch out, he drives like hell!

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  31. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    campos altos, brasil

    Outside Campos Altos, a coffee pot and cup made entirely from chans, flywheels, cogs, and other industrial parts. As always, the simple charm is offset by an oversized billboard in the background.

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  32. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Candy Cane:

    More of Patrocinios colorful architecture.

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  33. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    These are the 30 year old Catuai trees that were cut to a stump 1 year before. This is standard practice everywhere in coffee cultivation. The cut ranges from every 7 years to as much as 10, but a coffee tree simply won't produce when most of its growth is woody. Coffee cherry comes from blooms on the herbacious part of the branch, the new growth. There are less dramatic trimmings done each year, including a "skeleton" cut that trims the tree to it's bones, but does not reduce the height like the 7 year cut. This plot is not irrigated.

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  34. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Cemetary, Again:

    I just can't keep out of the graveyards. Anyway, this one was unique for the kinda creey numbering of all the gravesites. Seems like an overzealous caretaker was interested in keeping proper records more than aestheics.

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  35. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    church in Ouro Preto

    Your Majesty: The most famous Cathedral in Ouro Preto. UNESCO has set aside the entire town as a world historic site and no historic buildings can be altered.

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  36. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    The Cigarra or Cicada as we call it. They all emerge at the same time forming a fine ... ahem... mist that rains down from the trees. The weirdest thing is that the mist is quite inviting, and the fact that you are being soaked by insect piss doesn't seem to matter at that moment.

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  37. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    coffee in bloom

    Coffee flowers were actually still open in the higher spots in Aroponga. In other areas, there was not yet flowering, or the flowers were still tightly closed in a candle-like form, waiting some rain to inspire them to open.

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  38. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    coffee storage

    Gustave shows us the "Wooden Gauntlet" and unique allway underneath the huge parchment coffee storage bins. All the storgae bins are wood-lined.

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  39. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Contact with Livestock:

    I suppose I should keep my re-entry Customs form in mind on these trips, but I had to try for this self-shot picture. The Goat is the one on the right, although I understand the confusion because we were sharing a piece of cud just before the picture was taken...

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  40. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    contols for probatino

    Contols for the Probatino- not fully automated but quite extensive. It includes PID bean temperature control.

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  41. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Cool Water:

    Ah we finally pass through Rio and on to Niteroi. On the bay in the city is the famous art museum designed by Oscar Niemeyer, a disciple of Le Corbusier, a guy who loved the "play of light" but perhaps not the people who had to use his buildings on a daily basis. Hey, it's art, inconvenience yourself.

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  42. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    couldn't resist

    And here is the view from above, tainted by a gringo who had to jump in and plany around in the coffee.

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  43. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    cowboy from brasil

    On the road, I ponder the cowboy look for myself. I don't think this will fly with the homies in West Oakland so I had to pass.

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  44. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    crazy bikes

    It was another hour in the car to get to the town of Ervalia, a small town between Vicosa and Aroponga where the international worldwide headquarters for Fazenda Brauna lies (in other words, and office over their Mom's house). We had a very late meal and I guess it was my first starry-eyed glimpse of the Monark, the ubiquitous Brasilian bike that can traverse barriers and handle the potholes and dirt roads with ease. It's awesome. It has no cables, just metal bars and linkages to operate brakes and shifters. The hand brakes are one solid bar under the handle bars. I need one!

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  45. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    crazy car

    Okay, the competition is over, the best of Cerrado has been determined, and we are off on a road trip with the boys from Fazenda Brauna, located in the Zona de Mata region of Minas Gerais State. I have bought their coffee for several years, and was excited to see the farm and the mill. This is the Fiat 1.3 Liter Brauna-mobile - ans awesomely roomy car.

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  46. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    crazy machine

    Brauna works with the agricultural university in Vicosa to implement new farm processes. One of the most facinating is a water cleanzing system that can return pure water back into the wet mill and filter out dirty water contaminated with coffee pulp. This process usually involves a system of holding the fermenty water in ponds, and evaporating it. This type of water is an environmental hazard if it re-enters creeks/rivers and such. But this compact machine could solve the entire problem in a compact form. Unfortunately, there was trouble with the filter screens and it wasn't 100% effective. Next year promises better results.

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  47. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    crown of thorns

    The flower of the Euphorbia "Cherokee" ... what it is called in California, as it grows in my backyard. In Brazil it is an ornamental plant found everywhere, really dramatic and with these great flowers.

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  48. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Cultural Confusion:

    Okay, things got a little sketchy after the awards were handed out. All the coffee porducers in the room are celebrating, or kvetching, or gossiping. There's a lot of general noise. Then this guy runs out and gets up to rock the mic. He starts off with something that the Japanese judges find amusing, but then seems a bit confused about what to say next. It's odd, it's awkward, it makes good photos for sweet maria's web site. What the heck it was all about, I dunno.

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  49. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Back to COFFEEE! Oh, man. I have seen so many trees in the past 4 years, but the side trip John DiRuocco and I took to Daterra was really fascinating. Daterra is a group of 4 farms, 2 big ones and 2 little ones. A few years ago we bought their Cup of Excellence lot. They are members of the Caccer family, but are really an independent farm. They are big, well-funded, but have the spirit of invention and experimentation in what they do. It's sorta the La Minita of the region. Here we have 30 year old Catuai trees, some of the oldest in the Cerrado region. (First coffee planted in Cerrado was 1972.)

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  50. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    dattera gps

    Daterra, like other farms, uses exact land plots and GPS to help track the use of chemical and fertilizer on the farm. All these colored areas signify their stage in treatment.

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  51. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    In Cupping Lab No.1 at Daterra, a display of foregn matter and defects found in coffee.

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  52. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Okay, why not make my own food art? Every day we eat lunch at a Churasqueria (Brasilain Barbeque) called Jamaica Restaurant. The food is fresh (produce grown in the backyard, all local meat ...) and presentation ain't bad either! It inspired me... This is scallions on a local tofu-like type of Quejo. The true local cheese is like Feta, and called Quejo Miniero.

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  53. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Papaya pudding with Cassis on top. It's like better than Jello, dude.

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  54. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    How Old? Nothing really, just a 14 foot tall door carved in the mid 19th century. It's the stuff you find down every side street of this amazing city.

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  55. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Eden's Island:

    Yet another amazing bloom in the Garden.

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  56. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    It's hard for them to keep up the house, and some electrical problems led to a couple of small fires, the more serious one made a small hole in the roof. The house is a mixture of beauty and abandonment. Makes me want to move in ans start to make repairs right away. I suppose it was the same impulse I had to save every blind, underfed dog I saw...

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  57. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    The next day, out at the Brauna farm office, Elena took over at the espresso machine. As mentioned, she is a very skilled Barista. This an amazing thing about the Brauna Bros and family: they are farmers, they can roast, they can cup, they have espresso equipment on the farm. Too many farmers say, "I grow the finest coffee, blah, blah blah" but put it on a cupping table and ask them to find it among a few others. They can't. Farmers need to roast samples, and cup, just as roasters need to... Otherwise, we are all talking BS with eachother! Here we have a full commercial espresso outfit at the office across from the wet-mill on a coffee farm, and a barista to boot!

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  58. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Fantasy Life:

    On the way home from Itacoatiara, a billboard of a future condo project. An image of paradise quite close to a near-paradise - odd.

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  59. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Evening Entertainment: Campos Altos is a small, rural coffee town. That night was a big Faroh, what bascially translates to the "peoples dance". It's for everyone, rich and poor, young and old, genuine rural cowboy culture. And that means, of course, a guy playing synthesizer and another on accordian. It means very straightforward 1-2 step music. It means beer. It means kids running around, and women dancing with eachother when they can't get a fella to ask them. An old cuople cuts a polka trajectory across the floor that has 50 years of polish to it, making the kids look like amateurs.

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  60. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Fat Man's Misery:

    I don't even know if the door on the one side could swing fully open before hitting the back wall. Perhaps this is the flavor that comes from a historic gold rush town, where every square inch is used, no wasted space. But this 1 meter wide building seems a bit ridiculous.

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  61. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Poverty in Proximity: Niteroi has small Favelas just as Rio de Janiero has huge ones. Favelas are not the same as slums really (and they have a much better name, eh). Every person I spoke to has passionate feelings about them, that there are good people stuck in the Favela, that drugs are a big issue, and that there is a whole set of rules and laws for each Favela that have little to do with the outside world. (Check out the 2002 film "City of God"). Rather than being in lowlands, Favelas are often on hillsides with great views! and always in view of the city.

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  62. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    fermented coffee

    And here is a very bad sample with about 50% fermented seeds, viewed under blacklight.

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  63. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    fertilizer scoreboard

    And this board shows areas that might have been treated with fertilizer and should not be entered - red means Prohibited. All this is part of BSCA coffee association cetification. Only a small number of the best Brasilian farms are BSCA certified, a complete program with environmental protections, worker protections, and safe work place rules.

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  64. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Final award ceremony.

    The Dry-processed category was dominated by Monte Carmelo area farms. Monte Carmelo is the town a bit west and north, and has great weather for natural coffees (although our luck with the Cooxupe coop Monte Carmelo lots ran out a while back - too inconsistent). Here we have the winners of the CD (Pulped Natural category) from Fazenda Paiolinho from Carmo de Paranaiba.

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  65. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    fish market

    In Niteroi, there is a central indoor fishmarket (Sao Pedro) where you can buy everything and anything from the morning's local catch. That includes these toothy, eel-some fish ...

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  66. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    I really like paintings of food, especially when they are so flat graphically. If you expect tons of coffee-only pictures in this travelogue, stop now. I think there are more painted-sign pics than coffee flower photos! For those in the profession, what "Panetone" color do you think that pink is?

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  67. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    A little unexpected visitor I found hanging out in the bathroom at the Souza house. I told Pica-Pau about it and they told me it is a delicious fron to heat, lightly fried. I said "no thanks!"

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  68. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    A problem in the area is a small worm that creates leaf spots. It is not the well know fungi Ojo de Gallo (Eye of the Rooster) found other places.

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  69. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    get it cooked

    ...The best part is that after you buy your fresh fish, they clean it for you, put it in a sack, and you take it upstairs to one of the 2 restaurants where they cook it for you! We had fresh whitefish and fried shrimp. Excellent.

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  70. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    giant tires

    Outside of town: a contrast in sizes. All the cars in Brasil are small, very small. Engine sizes are in the 1 to 1.5 liter range, tires look like they fit better on a Matchbox car. Industry and agriculture in Brazil are huge, and large in scale too. Maybe this photo takes that too literally, but I was there, and those tires were indeed MASSIVE.

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  71. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    golden roaster

    A Mecamau 3 barrel sample roaster at the Daterra Cupping Room No.1. This is more of a production machine for them.

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  72. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Grave Addiction:

    The next morning at 6, I am at the local cemetary in Ervalia to shoot photos while all others sleep.

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  73. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    gustavo at daterra

    Coffee Scout: Gustavo was our guide at Daterra. Here he is digging into the ground cover a bit to show the layer of leafy mulch and weeds allowed to remain between rows of coffee shrubs. They mow the weeds when they get too high, but it offers a good layer of protection and more organic material for the deficient soil. They keep the weeds away from the trees so they don't compete with the coffee. For that they use RoundUp, unfortunately.

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  74. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Hamburger 1

    And oh yes, the Hamburgers. Some of the best Hamburger Art is found in Patrocinio, including this illuminated sign of a plaintve-looking single stacker. You would be dismayed if you were about to be eaten too.

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  75. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Hamburger 2

    Van Gogh: Local Hamburger Artist "Vincent" likes to keep things flat, but is not above a ketsup drip or two to keep it all luscious looking.

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  76. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Hamburger 3

    Oh, more nice Hamburgers. They are everywhere. If I had a nickel for every ....

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  77. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Hard Hat:

    well, not really. These guys who haul the bags on their head wear these interesting felt-like knit hats. This guy could set a whole new trend on the West Coast; he has no idea.

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  78. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    hey mr dj

    Mixmaster, with kids. Back at the sound booth, running the PA, children sleeping soundly underneath.

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  79. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Horse power

    Next morning, the camera keeps rolling: Horses and carts are still used to trasport the heavy stuff. A brick yard across from our hotel, "Minas Palace."

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  80. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Hot Day, Cool Water, Nasty Bugs:

    You could actually get underneath these falls for a swim, and it was awesome (and a little dangerous). But instead of taking home a postcard and fond memories, we took home Carapatos. A Carapato is a nasty tiny tick that lives on horses, and we were at the wrong place at the wrong time. The grass was abloom with Carapato. I was pulling them off me for 2 days. Thanks Joao. Thanks Aphonse. Each carapato I had means 2 points lower on your coffee review score! (a joke, ha-ha)

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  81. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    How Droll:

    I did not win the Best Cupping Judge contest (went to the person with the highest slurp) but I was best at matching t-shirt to task on hand. Best lame facial expressions. Steve of Portland Roasting looks on, aghast.

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  82. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    incredible kids

    How can you resist a face like this?

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  83. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    irrigated coffee

    Cerrado is fairly unique for the flat Savanna terrain, the need for soil ammendments, mechanical harvesting, and this, irrigation. 20% of Dattera is irrigated, and the range at most farms is in that range. I don't know of a farm that is 100% irrigated but it might exist. Circular overhead (pivot) irrgiation like this is common, but drip/emitter irrigation is being introduced, the problem being that the cost of hosing is very high. Even Daterra is daunted by the costs of drip irrigation. Also, coffee has a very deep and wide root pattern so hose irrigation needs to account for this.

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  84. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Itaipuacu, looking south toward Niteroi. As I said, this is the start of an immense beach that extends far northward. The surf here is all shorebreak (the bottom comes up quickly all along here) so there's not much going on in terms of surfing. Boo!

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  85. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    The next day we took a short drive up to Itaipuacu. It is the small town that anchors a hugely long sancy beack, some 60 km long headed northward. I would have explored the whole thing, but that will have to wait until next trip. I wanted to get to the surfing beach called Saquerema. But no go.

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  86. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    John Di Ruocco

    John Di Ruocco was with me for our side trip to Daterra. Here he is modeling local Minas Gerais fashion. Muy Macho.

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  87. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    leaving niteroi

    Headed out of Niteroi, toward Rio and the airport. This is a small island on the bay, across from the Museum, connected only by a small footbridge.

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  88. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Let It All Hang Out:

    One way to show what you got, just turn your store inside out. Now, how can Sweet Maria's implement this unique retailing idea. Hmmm.

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  89. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    line-up at school

    Next stop was the school by the farm. Many of the parents of these children work at Brauna or on surrounding farms. It wasn't a serious school day because the next day (Wed) was a holiday. It was a "fun and games" day. These kids were amazing - even with all the problems, Brasil respects its children and cares for them as best as possible. I had a hella good time playing with these kids. In fact,. I left them with the new soccer ball I had just bought...

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  90. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Lineup of sniffers:

    Smelling the crust on the cups, part 1 of judging the wet aromatics (part 2 is breaking the crust with the spoon). From Left it is me, Andrew Barnett, Joel Pollock, Steve, and Ramond. Not sure why they put all the gringos together at one table, but Spain was all together too. Korea and Japan were split between 2 tables.

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  91. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    local furniture

    What Style Is It? I have no idea but it is awesome! Locally made folk art furniture like this is really amazing. All the woods are hard-wood Ipe and otherwise it is local cedars.

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  92. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Lunchtime in Aroponga:

    Debutante in the house ...This was one of my favorite meals during my entire trip. We ate in a Pousada, basically a private house that you can receive meals or rent a room. It was fantastic "comida typica" and as with Jamaica, all produce came from the garden in the back!

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  93. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Mapping it out:

    Aphonse has a detalied satellite image of the farm that they use to manage the areas of cultivation, and those left untouched. Brauna is a BSCA certified farm, meaning they follow strict environmental guidelines, sustainable practices, worker safety, and careful/discrete handling of fertilizers and pesticides.

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  94. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    mauro was here

    Grafitti, Of Course: I love anything out of place and this was some very innocent, almost artsy grafitti on a rock in town. Poor Mauro.

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  95. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Not in Rio: Patrociono has its own megastatue, but perched on a much less, er, dramatic slope. In fact, I would call it a "mound". Cerrado is flat basically, akin to the Savanna terrain of Africa. From L to R, Alberto Miranda, Eugene-based coffee mystic and king of Cafe Mam, Ensei Neto, the Cerrado competition director, John di Ruocco of Mr. Espresso, and someone hiding behind the nettles. Actually, that's a Euphorbia called Crown of Christ in Portuguese.

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  96. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    mill controls

    The mill: they were working on the machinery while we visited. Here is a complicated set of elevator controls to divert coffee from one machine (the density sorter, the size screener, the optical scanner, etc) to another.

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  97. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Miranda Rights:

    Alberto Miranda of Cafe Mam uses an IR thermometer to check water temperatures. Curiously, there is no water in the cups yet.

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  98. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    and some fresh Octopus. Extra eyes for me please! But the greatest thing about the fish market isn't all those delectable suckers, colorful internal organs, or the fine aroma ...

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  99. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Mom's Flowers:

    Sra. Schmolz has beautiful flowers. The family also has a colorful history. Of German heritage (does Schmolz seem English?) her husband was a priest for 23 years before running into problems for his progressive views. He left the church and married, became a lawyer for some time, and a coffee farmer. They retained a little property near the ocean north of Rio (Niteroi) from a time when he helped platte out the area. But the farm was the main interest of the family business. Sadly, he died a few years ago.

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  100. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Mom's House:

    Beautiful orchids outside the room I stayed. Offices of Fazenda Brauna are on the 2nd story. Mom is a doctor who works with farms, doing mostly routine physicals required by the government. Monica is the oldest sister who handles much of the office work, the backbone of the farm. Joao and Aphonse are out on the farm or dealing with their small roasted coffee business. They even have a cousin Elena with a cafe who sells only Brauna coffee. She is a fantastic Braista too, spending time training in the PNW with some excellent companies.

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  101. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    We took a small trip to visit the farm of Betaina and Jr., a younger couple who started to grow coffee in the past few years. They have a great lot of 100% Bourbon coffee to offer but, strangely, the sample disappeared (Andrew, did you swipe it!?!). On the way to their farm, we saw these cattle being herded on the road, including a calf that could not have been more than a day out of the womb.

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  102. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    More great sauce,

    More great sauce, vegetables from a garden just behing the tables. In California this place would put Alice Waters, fresh food diva, out of business. But you aren't going to hear an interview with the chef of Jamaica on NPR, sadly.

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  103. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    More of the Same:

    This was no fancy place, many graves were wooden crosses or cinder block with white paint. Few had any special ornament. The neighborhood was full of large houses though. It was a distinct contrast.

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  104. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    More Work:

    That evening, it was back to cupping at the mill, a new cooperative mill that is a joint project of Brauna and 11 other cooperatives and producers in the region. It is one of 5 BSCA certified mills in the country (meaning it can hold Cup of Excellence lots during the competition, among other things).

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  105. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Mr. Key:

    Actually, I saw him a few places. Not sure why a Key wears a baseball hat, or what he could be pointing at. Maybe its a sorta "hey jerk, lock yourself out again, ha-ha" thing.

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  106. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    New Wave Agro:

    Well, Agri. This is a massive automated coffee harvester. As far as the pros and cons of automated harvesting, you need to read my extensive notes from last years Cerrado trip. Basically, in this terrain, mechanical picking does a better job of ripe cherry selection than the strip pick technique of humans, and because Cerrado features one simultaneous, strong flowering, the machine suits both terrain and crop cycle of the Cerrado coffee. It would not be appropriate in many other coffee areas, even in Brasil.

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  107. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Nifty house:

    just a nifty house...

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  108. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Not a Goth:

    I just like cemetaries (as you will see later on), I am not morose. I don't think there is any reason for vault-type graves in Ervalia (as there is in New Orleans, etc). It's just a style.

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  109. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Not a Mausoleaum, Just a House.

    And what an amazing over-the-top design from the turn-of-the-century. Ervalia is not that old (from what I understand, much of the area was farming and grains to supply the gold trade in Ouro Preto with food.)

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  110. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Would you trust them with your child? A kinda kreepy vingette painted on the wall of a nursery school.

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  111. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Offerings: Along the road in Itaipuacu, offering plates mark the location of someone's private ceremony. I am not sure of this is the Candomble religion they find in Bahia state, or something else.

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  112. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Old and not so old:

    You see a mix of vehicles on the streets, including horse-carts for heavy loads. The price of gas in Brasil is very high, and horse-travel makes sense. Often, these are made from the backs of Willys-Jeeps that were popular in Brasil for many years.

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  113. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    On to Business:

    We came to cup, and so the competition began. First we calibrated for a full day, to get the international jury (about 20 cuppers from US, Japan, and Spain mostly) on the same page. The cupping is split between Dry-processed and Pupled-process coffees (called CD coffee in Brazil: Cereja Descascada). So the cuppers job is to rate each on it's own merits. CD coffees score higher for uniformity, brightness, delicate flavors. But natural Dry Process have that big body, and that unruly chocolate and nut character. Here, the consummate professional, Mane Alvez of Coffee Lab International was head judge.

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  114. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Once again, being a dork.

    It5's amazing that I used to go on trips and come back with no photos of myself, forgetting to hand over the camera and ask someone to take a picture. Now I come back with too many. What has changed?

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  115. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    T.O. Confusion: As we depart with our awards (Best Cupping Judge for me, ha-ha), I am challenged by an unnamed party to prove my assertion that the awards are framed in glass, not plexiglas. I was right, I guess, but made a fool of myself in the process. I got the whole mess cleaned up, but felt bad nonetheless. I saved the most important part which is now in my office, the center part, with a classic misspelling of my name (Tomphson).

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  116. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    ouro preto

    Next day we are off to the old, crooked-street, maze of a city Ouro Preto. It's a strange mix of old, wealthy mining city (Ouro Preto means Black Gold), tourist mecca (though most are Brasilian tourists) and college party town. We were there for the Doze, the 12th of October, the Dia de Nosa Senhora. It was crowded and crazy. The "Republics", basically frat houses, were welcoming back all the alumni with pitchers of Cerveja Skol. But in the evening light, the town was busy and beautiful.

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  117. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    patrocinio, brasil

    View of Patrocinio: So I found myself again in the small coffee town of Patrocinio, smack in the middle of Minas Gerais in the Cerrado growing region. It's a bit like the midwest, but a lot dryer, no harsh winter, and full of Brasilians!

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  118. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    The man responsible for that food, Pica-Pau has a cattle ranch but is an old Souza family friend and a helluva good cook!

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  119. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Bromeliads and other parasitic plants abound. Someone thought a cattle skull would fit in too.

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  120. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    After the batch dumps, I had to get my picture. I have never, ever seen that much coffee emerge from a drum at once. If you could have seen the steam coming off the machine when they did the in-the-drum water quench, it was unreal. The coffee comes out fairly cool into a bin with no mechanical agitation. It does pull air through the bottom, but it aint going to cool 6 bags of coffee piled that deep any time soon.

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  121. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    probat sample roaster

    The fancy cupping room is in a separate building, and is overseen by their head cupper Carlos Borges. This has all Probat roasting equipment including this single barrel traditional sample roaster ...

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  122. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    ... and this beautiful Probatino machine. There is probably no more elegant sample roaster out there, but of course, the price tag matches the beauty and functionality of this machine. Last I hear it was 8 grand.

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  123. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    And Afternoon under the veranda: With an accompanyment of 10 dogs, most with cataracts (this poor guy was totally blind), and some fantastic food.

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  124. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    R &R:

    During a break in the cupping a few of us defected on a farm tour (I had been to the same farm last year, and have the pictures to prove it!). Instead we went to the local swimming pool, where all the schoolchildren were lining up to leave. Word of wisdom: get to the pool *before* the kids show up. Purity cannot be ascertained after they spend a couple hours in the water.

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  125. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Rebel, Rebel:

    And in fact there was some critical statements to that effect, so it seems not all like to buy dresses off brainless manniquins. In addition, you can't bring your bike into the area, but you can buy some evangelical material at the table below.

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  126. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    At the university in Vicosa, Alphonse poses with a tree that wishes it was a bamboo. Actually, it's just a Ficus that got frankensteined by the grafting department to have multiple trunks.

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  127. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    As I mentioned, Brauna also roasts some coffee at the farm, offering it at upscale restaurants and cafes in Brazil. This is their little 12 kilo roaster on the farm. It needed some adjustments; Joel and I offered to help but I am not sure they wanted nosy gringos tampering with the equipment. I saw scortch marks on the coffee because they were overpacking the drum. And it needed general cleaning of the cooling system. Joel suggested a baffle under the gas flame, since the flame actually touched the perforated metal drum! Alas, maybe next year I will sneak in at night and modify it!

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  128. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Rural Coffee:

    It is synonomous with Bad Coffee, but back in Ervalia it busy signfy otherwise. SOme of these trucks act as "coyotes" in Mexico, traveling rural roads offering cash and low prices for coffee in parchment. Others have regular sources. Either way, it takes sheer desperation to lift a Cafe Rural up to your lips and take a swig.

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  129. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    secret box

    Now, take that lab setting and build a huge green coffee sorting system around it. That is the Penta system that Luis initiated at Daterra. Housed in a big mysterious wood box, we were not able to view it directly, nor photograph it.

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  130. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    She has diabetes, and has to walk 3 km to school each morning. Theres a fund gathering to buy her a horse to make the trip a bit easier.

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  131. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Severe Penalty:

    No, I wasn't arrested for breaking the frame - I was awarded by getting my picture taken with some smartly outfitted paramilitary security guards. Actually, this is at the Agriculture Fair that was concurrent with the cupping event, and I am not sure why they needed the heavy duty cops. Joel, a roaster for Stumptown is on the left.

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  132. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Speaking of Shwag:

    We wanted to check out a big local roaster, and Cafe Toko (who has a 2 drum Leogap roaster, each drum with an 8 bag capacity(!), that's a 16 bag roaster, folks!!!) was too far away. We settled on Cafe Donalice in Ervalia, with this tiny little Jocar 6 bag machine. It's some pretty rough coffee, but a standard in Brasil and you have to respect other people's taste in coffee. To their credit, I saw few sticks and rocks coming out with the coffee, so at least they were indeed roasting coffee!

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  133. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Stuffed Animals:

    No, this is Lulu, one of 3 dogs at the Souza home, a 4 month old chow in a rare moment of repose. Usually, she is a bouncing, richocheting, hand-standing 30 Lb furball.

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  134. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Disneyland? No, just Ouro Preto at sunset, bouganvilla, hillside cathedrals, antique lights. It is an incredible place.

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  135. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    super effects

    It also means a few colored lights and a smoke machine. The guy on the smoke machine was a little overzealous. I guess being a rural Faroh muscician on keyboards means knowing how to play and sing when you can't see your hands or the mic. Besides a few times when the power went out, these guys were pros.

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  136. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Super Sloppy:

    the program was flawless except for the slightly too-dark roast on the first day of Natural Dry Process coffees (corrected for the finals) and the pouring. Ah, the pouring, whatta mess. The problem was that the big kettles they used were so heavy, and it was hard to stop the pour at the right moment. Once you break the crust with the cupping spoon, you couldn't help but overflow. For next year, I suggest the judges pour their own cups, so we only have ourselves to blame.

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  137. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    It looked like a great challenge but at about 8 feet my courage and climbing skills were maximized. Now my oldest sister Liane aka "superclimber" (El Capitan, Half Dome etc etc) would be at the top in seconds.

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  138. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Every so often I saw some fancy grafitti but mostly it was lots of little tags like this. Of course, I added mine (upper left corner). Joke.

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  139. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    the beach!

    Finally, I Got to The Beach! Ah, the beaches. I was searching for something more remote, but would have to rent a car to head up North. So I stuck around Niteroi, and walked north to Itaipu and Itacoatiara. This is a picture of Itacoatiara, much more of a "locals beach" with some decent shorebreak surf and amazing "futebol" soccer on the beach. I would have joined the game but, ahem, I had a pulled muscle.

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  140. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    The Hamburger Thing, Revisited.

    Ironically, I did not have a hamburger on the entire 2 weeks I was traipsing around Brasil. Perhaps a picture of a Brasilian Hamburger is better than the actual thing-in-itself. I was also enjoying the horse with the blinders that have a little horse on them, which might also have blinders that have a ...

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  141. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    the hosts.

    Myself, Zinho, Megan (Joel's wide) and Analia, Zinho's wife. She is a lively 60 year old, and he is 86. They live in the town of Campos Altos, but come out to the farm house regularily. Their farm and coffee mill is in rough condition, not a model of modern coffee production, but rustic and beautiful.

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  142. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    The roaster:

    Actually this 2 barrel propane machine was not the one used to roast the competition samples. But it was on hand just in case...

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  143. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    their floor

    The farm house of Zinho and Analia is incredible. The floors are all beautiful old tiles, and the ceilings are a least 12 feet tall. It reminds me of some of the best old houses I have seen in the South, but with more color and homemade touches.

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  144. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Tico at Work:

    Alberto Miranda, pushing it into the late night hours to cup these lots. Actually, this was not a good thing. Trying to cup at 8 pm is not wise for the cupper nor fair to the coffee. But we had an agenda to follow, dammit! The first table was full of horribly defective coffees. The second table was quite beautiful. Were they just messing with us??? I don't know.

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  145. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    A simple shack with rough and sawn lumber. I am a sucker for the rustic. What do we have, Home Depot? Rural Brasil is rustic paradise.

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  146. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Tonka Trucks:

    Coffee is hauled from farms (still in parchment) to the Expocaccer mill in these handsomely customized rigs. The lines running to the hubs stumped me when I first saw them in Brasil long ago. It's air pressure, controlled from the cab. When they run empty, they optimize the air pressure, as when fully loaded. The weight difference with these kind of coffee loads is so great, and gas so expensive in Brasil, that it makes a lot of sense.

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  147. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Tough Guys:

    Simply the best motorcycle club graphic, ever. I dare you to find anything more intimidating than the Pygmies of the Asphalts ensignia! PA Rocks!

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  148. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Who wins the Golden Swiss Cheese? Okay, I guess it's billiards, but I just thought the perspective was funny.

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  149. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    vigorous coffee plant

    A little crack in the coffee drying patio, and a new Fazenda emerges.

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  150. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Viva the Republic.

    Of course Aphonse, who knows everyone everywhere, had a cousin who ran a Republic (ie Frat). We stopped by at a low point, as Bolivia tied Brasil in World Cup Qualifying competition. But everyone was friendly, and Alberto put on somebodies Bug-Eye sunglasses AND found a willing young woman to pose with him. Go Alberto!

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  151. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    On the leafy ground cover of the huge Mundo Novo trees, coffee replants itself with ease. Here are 2 coffee seedlings among other plants. This plot is found on the Boa Vista farm. We did not have a chance to visit Daterra's other farms. The large one is Tabuoes, the smaller Fazendas are San Ignacio and Buruti. In all Daterra has 300 full time employees!

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  152. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005

    Walking back to Niteroi:

    There was a "funk fair" the next day, and they were installing this awesome motorcycle trick-riding bowl. Next day it rained, so I wasn't sure if they pulled it all off. But I could hear some distant music in the evening. Headliner was MC Marinho backed up by MC Bob Rum.

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  153. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Coffee skin (Casca), Parchemnt (pergamino) and muscilage are used with other organic materials to creat a rich mulch that is returned to the plants.

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  154. Brazil Cerrado & Minas Gerais 2005


    Maybe it's because I turned 40? Anyway, here is an interesting display of coffee chemistry applied to soil ammendment. Basically, all soil in Cerrado has great structure but lacks organic material, Nitrogen and Calcium (among other things). It is iron rich, but out of balance. Soil is tested and custom formulations are created for each Fazenda, sometimes for each separate plot on the Fazenda. There's science to the coffee of Cerrado, but you won't see indiscriminate use of chemcals and pesticides, you won't see ariel spraying of crops. 100% organic in cerrado would, I believe, be impossible given the soil condition. But every farm is very discrete about using soil amendment and EVERY farm I have seens uses extensive composting techniques, and encourage non-competing ground cover between the coffee plants.

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