All about Fazenda Bela Vista
Our thoughts on Bela Vista
We are delighted to have these natural Yellow Catuai beans in our roastery for the first time. When we opened the first sack we could see straight away that the beans are of excellent quality. We roast them to just past first crack resulting in a medium roast. We get notes of dark chocolate, grape and creme brûlée in the cup. A delicious and satisfying cup of coffee!
How it all started
Luciano Tannuri and Adilio Zorzal were working as agronomists when they first had the idea of forming a group of coffee producers. Their aim was to focus on quality and productivity. In 2010 the company Café Agrícola Limited was officially established. The producers joined funds and acquired an area of 300 hectares. This was once part of a much larger farm known as Fazenda Bela Vista. Bela Vista was ideally situated in a region of the same name. It means ‘beautiful view’ in Portuguese. Today, the group has 18 members and is represented by Luciano Tannuri. Luciano is not only the farm manager and agronomist but also one of the partners.
Every producer member of the group is from a family that pioneered farming activities in the region of São Gotardo. This began back in 1973, when a rural settlement project was launched with the aim of developing the region. Apart from being pioneers in farming activities, the producers are also pioneers in establishing a group focused on quality in coffee production. The road to specialty hasn’t been without its challenges, however.
Weather hits the coffee crop
In 2016 a severe frost damaged 80% of the coffee crop in the region and decimated Bela Vista. This put a severe dent in the group’s hopes and aspirations. It was a sad and difficult moment for all producers, as they hoping for a return after years of massive investment. Far from bailing out, they decided to redouble their efforts. Now, more than 2 years later, the coffee is healthy and vigorous, beyond even the recovery that was initially expected. As a crowning achievement, in 2018 Luciano Tannuri and the members of the group won first place at the 5th Coopadap Quality Awards. Looking back at where they had started, Luciano is amazed at what they’ve achieved in so little time.
Growing the Coffee
Over the years, the main challenge in starting the group was gathering a group of producers within the same objective. Once that was complete, they could begin to worry about the growing! Because the region presents different types of soil, there was no ‘one-size-fits-all’ agronomic solution. This characteristic can reflect in different attributes and cup profiles from lot to lot, which is great for specialty, but it also means that each lot demands different attention. This means it is more costly than a single approach to implement. Furthermore, as the farm is located at a relatively lower altitude in the Sao Gotardo micro-region (the average in the region is 1,100 metres above sea level) careful post harvest techniques are required to ensure coffee quality.
Today, 90% of the farm is covered by a drip irrigation system, which gives greater control over periods of flowering. Soil undergoes annual soil analysis and then is submitted to a correction process by applying chemical and organic fertilizers. This is done, of course, on a plot by plot basis. Part of this fertilisation is done through a ferti-drip irrigation which optimises the use of chemical fertilisers and helps reduce the overall required dose, resulting in up to 20% savings on inputs in the areas where it is applied.
During the harvest season, great care is taken to ensure that those lots with quality potential receive a careful and different treatment during harvest and post-harvesting. Harvest plots are delineated according to planting year and variety. This Yellow Catuaí lot was mechanically harvested, with at least two passes being completed. The first pass is completed without vibration in order to harvest only the most fully-ripe cherries and to avoid any fruit drop. The second pass happens 30 to 40 days after this, just in time for the second ripening!
Once harvested, the coffee cherries are laid on patios in very thin layers for the first day. Here, they are left to pre-dry without turning. On the second day, the coffee is raked several times, slowing reducing moisture levels. As the coffee dries, it is raked into thicker layers to slow the rate of moisture loss. Coffee will continue drying on the patios for 8 days, after which it will be moved to mechanical dryers for finishing. Here it is dried at 30 to 45 degrees with ‘cool down’ periods approximately every 8 to 10 hours (it is dried during the day and rested and cooled during the night). The coffee will remain for up to 3 days in the mechanical dryer, after which it will be bagged and rested.
About Luciano, the owner:
Luciano came to São Gotardo in 1996 to work at Coopadap in the grain sector (soybean, corn, wheat and others). He worked here for three years and then spent one year at the cooperative’s experimental farm working in coffee and vegetable production. In 1998 he started working as a field assistant agronomist in coffee and fruit (avocado, atemoya, mango, khaki, macadamia and lychee). He assisted 25 farms representing an area of 2,900 hectares. In 2010 he left the co-op department of agronomical assistance and started working as manager of Fazenda Bela Vista.
Luciano has an Agronomy degree from the State University of São Paulo, an MSc in Vegetable Production by Federal University of Viçosa and an MBA degree from the Getulio Vargas Foundation in agribusiness management. He is now attending a post-graduate course in Soil and Plant Nutrition at Luiz de Queiroz Higher Education School, University of São Paulo. The university is considered the best agronomical and agricultural engineering university in Brazil.
Luciano said that entering the specialty coffee world is something new to him despite his years of experience with coffee. What he sees as interesting and valuable is the relationship. It is not only about coffee, but the producers’ story that is transmitted throughout the speciality coffee chain. It’s a different way of seeing the coffee chain and understanding how products are valued. For those producers who are passionate and dedicated to coffee quality, their product should be treated and valued as specialty not just as a commodity.