A relationship that turns out to be solid, year after year, especially when it spans the globe is something special. We’ve been buying from SanCoffee in Brazil since 2012, and we’re looking forward to continued involvement – so let’s get to know this steady relationship better!
Brazil is built for relationships.
Brazil is the coffee economic powerhouse of the world and, while they lack the high altitudes many other growing regions around the world enjoy, they more than make up for it with their amazingly efficient operations, organised production lines and the application of precision agronomy and processing. Not many countries can match the scale of production, the volumes produced and the consistency delivered. Applying good business practices, both with the coffee production and the profitability for the farm, means relationships with producing groups can be beautifully stable – but don’t mistake that for low quality commercial green or ‘boring’ coffees!
SanCoffee and friends.
SanCoffee is a producer group based in Santo Antonio de Amparo, located in southern Minas Gerais, Brazil. Comprised of over 20 fazendas (estates), many of whom are well known in their own right; often placing in the Brazil Cup of Excellence. Some of these estates might even ring a bell – Samambaia, Guariroba, Mumbuca, and Vila Boa to name a few!
So SanCoffee is a COLLECTIVE and the estates supply coffee that SanCoffee then mills and exports, right? Kinda.
Most coffee is sold through SanCoffee, but estates also have the option of selling their coffee separately. For example, Henrique Dias Cambraia (you may remember him from our MICE stand) is the president of SanCoffee and the family owner of Fazenda Samambaia. He supplies to SanCoffee, but keeps some lots separate to sell as Samambaia, and has recently been experimenting with processing methods which we have purchased directly from him. Several of these lots featured both at MICE and in our Limited Release program – examples of estate coffees sourced at a higher quality scale.
How SanCoffee benefits estates.
Short answer: more resources and shared knowledge. SanCoffee have a centralised lab, warehouse and dry mill, as well as a dedicated team of Q Graders who manage the quality for all the member estates. Working as a group through the central lab enables estates to share and gain from the collective’s many years of combined experience. More so, having total control of their warehouse and dry mill enables complete traceability and precise milling specifications for customers. The specialty graded coffee comes into the warehouse where samples are kept and profiles noted. There are shelves on a giant wall in the cupping lab where each estates’ name is listed, along with descriptions of the various coffees they offer. From here, companies like us work with the lab and choose the coffees which best fulfill the taste profiles we are looking for.
As these estates are run like small factories, technology and agronomy have become key to maintaining quality. You’ll find some of the team working closely with the IAC (Instituto Agriconomico de Campinas), a coffee research institute in Brazil. In a meticulously kept nursery, different coffee varieties, not yet used commercially, are grow and evaluated. SanCoffee have also moved to storing all their coffee in giant polypropylene bags. One of these large bags can house about 60 normal jute bags. The benefits of this are two-fold; it reduces the storage space needed and are made of much better material for storing coffee – the polypropylene bags are firmly woven together, giving just a bit of breath-ability.
Beyond the benefits already listed, SanCoffee as a collaborative export partnership have managed to mitigate the influence of a dangerously low market price. And in most cases, premiums to growers are 30-50% higher than both the local and C price market rates. SanCoffee and its members continue to mobilise and collaborate to strengthen the ability for its members to sell at above local market rates, in turn championing economic sustainability.
A producer group who can provide consistent large volumes of coffee alongside some innovative and awarding winning smaller lots is every coffee buyer’s dream! SanCoffee and the member estates, supply the backbone of some of well-love house blends, as well as some bangin’ lots both as single varietals and experimental processing types.
Santo Antonio Estates
This is a blend of member’s coffee and forms the tasty base of our Crompton Road blend. Ultra reliable and consistent, this blend is created each year for us to hit a certain flavour profile from SanCoffee’s base of producers/members. You know how we have house blends that aim to hit a taste profile all year round, regardless off the different origins that go into it? Similar concept!
Both gorgeously kept and historic, this estate is operated by Henrique Cambraia. We’ve got a couple of coffees from this estate – the larger lot is a natural processed single variety called Topazio. This variety has been sourced for its inherent ability to perform both as a base and with a surprising level of sweetness and deep complexity. As Samambaia processes all their own lots, it is the central hub from which many experimental lots are produced including all the lots we have featured both as Limited Release and at MICE this year.
While we don’t usually purchase directly from this estate, when our friends at SanCoffee mentioned they have placed 8th in this year’s COE, we jumped at the chance to support the group! Fazenda Guariroba is owned by Homero Aguiar Paiva, a 5th generation coffee farmer who has purchased this 19th century established farm in more recent times. Homero, a civil engineer by trade continues to progress all quality-driven aspirations of his farm with the help and guidance of his agronomist brother Renato Paiva.