We recently received a range of coffees from the Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (FAF). This is a good mix of coffees from small to medium sized separated lots of different varietals and from different local municipalities. This is based on a concept where FAF is growing and processing their own coffee, while also running a coffee initiative to develop a great range of products from the neighboring farms. We think this is a unique concept for Brazil and the flavor profiles are really complex and interesting compared to many other Brazilians we have tasted.

Faf 1

Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza is owned and run by Marcos Croce and his wife Silvia. Since they took over the farm, after Silvia inherited it from her family, they have been transforming the farm towards organic production.

Marcos and Silvia’s son (and our good friend) Felipe is now running the quality control and development of quality on the farm. He is actively experimenting with new ways of drying and producing coffee. This has resulted in some of the cleanest natural processed coffees we have ever tried coming out of Brazil. Although their altitude is not the highest, the coffees still have great character and sweetness due to the delicate drying process where the coffee cherries are picked at a very uniform ripening stage and all unripe coffees are sorted out by hand during drying.

New, and improved drying tables at Sitio Canaa

New, and improved drying tables at Sitio Canaa

Marcos and Silvia are very concerned about their local environment and have partnered up with a lot of farmers in the area to help them move towards sustainable farming and improved quality, in an effort called the Bobolink coffee project.

We are doing a mixed range of coffees from FAF and the Bobolink project. Some of the coffees are grown, picked and produced by the Croce family at Fazanda Ambiental Fortaleza. Other coffees are from the Bobolink project, where they are either picked and processed (dried) at a small holder farm like Sitio Canaa, or picked at a farm like Laranjal but dried and processed at Fazenda Fortaleza, where they have the structure in place, and the farmer only have his plot of land. Either way, when the coffees are separated out of the Bobolink project as single farms, it is because there is some uniqueness in the cup.

On top of that, all these coffees are sold as lots where you very often know the cultivars, time of picking etc.

foto 2

Their coffees are not the cheapest in Brazil. This is because the yield when growing organic coffee is very low, the cost is high and the Brazilian economy, especially in Sao Paulo state is booming. However, after visiting their farm and tasting their coffees 3 years in a row we had no other choice but to buy some.

faf 2

From the left: Marcos Croce, Joao Hamilton (one of their producing partners and owner of Sitio Canaa) and Felipe Croce.

There are many farmers in the Bobolink project that are still producing great coffees, but because of lot sizes or the cup profile they will go in to a blend and sold as Bobolink.

Ripe and semi-dry coffee

Ripe cherries starting to dry on the trees

Below is a quote by Marcos from their Bobolink web site

We changed the farm name to Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (Environmental Fortress Farm) and immediately banished all toxic materials, protected the springs, created green corridors for the wild life, and begun the process of bringing awareness to our people at the farm.

We started to ad fruit trees to our coffee plantations ( such as bananas, mango, avocado) and coffee seedlings to our secondary forests.

Growing conditions under shade at one of their many partnering producers.

Growing conditions under shade at one of their many partnering producers.

We also started to motivate our people to continue education and promoted social integration, personal development, healthy and natural eating habits, and personal skills.

Although we were having very positive progress, we later learned that it was not enough to save FAF. The water from our springs run clean at FAF, but continue to the neighbors; the birds that nest at FAF fly all over, people come and go…..

We decided to expand our area and invite our neighbors to to join us in protecting the environment and create a much wider free and clean zone for the “Bob-o-Links”.

Surrondings at one of the Bobolink single farms, Bela Vista.

Surrondings at one of the Bobolink single farms, Bela Vista.

The Bob-o-Link Coffee is a result of a network of farmers, located in one of the best regions for coffee in Brazil, which have in common the vision of producing the best coffees, with sustainable agriculture methods, that reduce the “heavy footprints” of humans on earth, promoting harmony between men and our Nature.

The Bob-o-Link coffees are produced mostly in the Mountain Mogiana Region 
( States of São Paulo and Minas Gerais), at altitudes that vary from 900m to 1,400m high, with Arabica coffee varieties such as Bourbon, Mundo Novo and Catuai.

Most of our FAF coffee farmers are formed by small properties , run by single or extended families, located at the top of the mountains, the perfect environment for the best coffees. The beans are picked selectively and dried in terraces next to their homes, close to their eyes.

Drying natural coffee in Mococa

Since these farms are on the top of the mountains, most have more that one spring in their property. The tradition is that only the first user gets clean water, due to improper dispose of waste and due to the agro-toxics used on the land. Also, the top of the mountains have always been covered by the Rainforest trees. But to maximize the use of the land for more production area…..the trees are the first to go and the sprigs get full sun exposure….

Natural at Sitio Canaa

The Bob-o-Link farmers are part of the FAF network that will promote awareness for the increase of Quality Coffee that keeps the springs protected, create green corridors on the water ways, reduce the use of toxic material, and keep the trees to shade the coffee and create a healthy place for people and for the Bob-O-Links.

The Bob-o-Link Coffee has the mission to deliver the Finest Quality Coffees with the message of Awareness of Preservation and Culture Integration.

Our goal is to allow the “Bob-o-Link” flocks of all spices back and to spread the Sustainability seeds for a better, healthier, happier and peaceful world.

Marcos Croce

foto copy

Our coffees when they get loaded in to the container for export at FAF

After buying the coffee from Bela Vista the producer wrote us a letter for us to be able to better understand their philosophy and products. It’s translated from Portuguese to English by Felipe Groce, and posted as it is, including the pics, without any editing from our end.

FAZENDA BELA VISTA

Producer: João Cecimiro Marques Dos Santos, José Claudio Marques Dos Santos and Solange Pereira Dos Santos

Municipality: Divinolandia, SP

Total Area: 24.66 Hectares

Altitude: 1100masl

Botanical Varietal: Red Icatu, Red Catuai and Mundo Novo

GPS: 7.604301 – 314.994

Uten navn

Uten navn2

It all began when João Cecimiro Marques Dos Santos aquired the farm farm: Fazenda Bela Vista. Situated in the district of Divinolandia in the Mogiana region of the State of São Paulo, Brasil; the farm was in a state of abandonment. In immediate the Dos Santos family began planting trees of native and broad diversity of varieties. To today they have planted in approximate 12,000 trees, and the hold the goal of planting an additional of 800 to 1000 more trees per year. These trees will protect and increase the natural vegetation around the springs, correct previous and hinder future land erosions, and create green corridors for wildlife. Additionally, they plan to create a system of properly collecting and separating trash on the property as well as improving the five houses of the families that live on the farm.

After awhile they began to find the bird population increasing on the farm. One of our employees made two birdhouses for canaries. They were occupied almost immediately. We then made ten more and spread them around the houses for the birds to produce nests. We increased to 30 then 50 and today we have around 300 birdhouses spread around the farm! The birds reproduce around four times per year and have on average two kin. We feel immense pleasure in helping to populate and spread these beautiful canaries and other species that appear.

One fine day we were greeted with the appearance of a Border Collie dog and we began to call him TOB. He brought to us a beautiful expression of love and loyalty. After him we bought some dogs from the breed boxers. In our pastures we are breeding cattle; always treating our animals with love.

Along with all of this we have been plating coffee, which now covers an area of 24.66 hectares. 2002 was our first harvest and the coffee was totally abandoned. We began working with an agronomer with first the aim of quality and then quantity. The work involving from mapping of the farm, improving harvesting techniques such as using cloths under the trees, separating lots.

We have two ponds and one wonderful spring that gives birth in the middle of the coffee and provides water for the whole property. We have a small colonial style house in between the two ponds which recently completed 100 years. We converted this house into a mess hall where we all have the pleasure of uniting all the families, partners, neighbors, and friends together under a gas lamp, radio, wood fire oven, home cooked food, good coffee, good cachaça and singing around a guitar.

We began on the farm a project called Musical Renatinho for the children of the farm and neighbor farms on every Tuesday.

In 2012, through the Sindicate of Divinolandia, we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Marcos Croce and his team at Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza, whom work with fine coffees and partnerships in the whole region.

Its our priority to improve the quality of our coffee!

 

Hugs!

 

Divinolandia, SP, 29 of October, 2012

Farm owner – João Cecimiro Marques Dos Santos

Partner – José Claudio Marques Dos Santos and Solange Pereira Dos Santos

By Morten Wennersgaard

This is the dry mill and warehouse belonging to the Oromia Union just outside Addis Ababa. The mill is extremely modern and well organized. Equipment is good, and they are putting a lot of effort in to grading, sorting and quality control.

This is the dry mill and warehouse belonging to the Oromia Union just outside Addis Ababa. The mill is extremely modern and well organized. Equipment is good, and they are putting a lot of effort in to grading, sorting and quality control.

I recently spent a week in Addis to gather samples and to cup and take position in coffees. At this point it’s mainly Yirgacheffe and Sidamo coffees from private wet millers and producers in Kochere, Wote (Konga), Chelelektu, Aricha, Guji, Dumerso. The quality of what we found so far is outstanding! The coffees are still fresh, and for that reason a little muted, but compared to what we cupped and bought at the same time last year I believe that the cup profile will be even better than for the 2013 coffees. We know that the coffees will mature by the time of delivery, and when we find coffees that shine on the table at this point it’s pretty exciting, as we know it will just get better. We have already taken buying decisions on coffees that will be shipped to Europe very soon. We will get is some mixed containers of these coffees, and should see some pre-shipment samples soon.

Horizon is the latest warehouse and dry mill in Addis. This is where most of the Coffees from the Sidama, Yirga, Kaffa and Limu Unions is stored and milled. Even some of our coffees from the private producers is stored here. They will then have their own assigned area as well as their own people following the coffee step by step.

Horizon is the latest warehouse and dry mill in Addis. This is where most of the Coffees from the Sidama, Yirga, Kaffa and Limu Unions is stored and milled. Even some of our coffees from the private producers is stored here. They will then have their own assigned area as well as their own people following the coffee step by step.

While Seife was down south in Yirgacheffe meeting producers together with a group of clients I spent days meeting Unions and exporters, visiting the warehouses for our coffees. This is Negatus from the Kaffa Union pulling our samples of Michiti and Chiri.

While Seife was down south in Yirgacheffe meeting producers together with a group of clients I spent days meeting Unions and exporters, visiting the warehouses for our coffees. This is Negatus from the Kaffa Union pulling our samples of Michiti and Chiri. Samples are pulled from multiple bags of the stock lot to represent the profile after bulking the bags.

Most of the coffees from the Cooperatives are not yet coming in to the warehouse at the dry mill. We always take buying decisions on the coffees when they are actual stock lots in the warehouse so that we know the quality offered to us is very accurate according to what’s getting milled and shipped. This is more challenging if you take random samples from bags of parchment at the washing station. Anyway, we will see samples of a lot of this stuff shortly. Still we are just contracting organic coffees from the Sidama Union like Hunkute, Bokasso, and then coffees from the Technoserve cooperatives in the west like Bifdu Gudina, Duromina, Chiri, Michiti, and hopfully some Debello.

The catch of the day! I was collecting samples and then spent some days to roast and cup in Addis. With and without clients and potential buyers.

The catch of the day! I was collecting samples and then spent some days to roast and cup in Addis. With and without clients and potential buyers.

In general the coffees bought right now is coffees that’s been going through a special prep with extended quality control at the private wet mills. Through our partners in Ethiopia we can pretty accurately tell you where and how the coffee is processed. If done well they get rated as Grade – 1, by the ECX system before they get sold. ECX is grading every coffee offered for export in Ethiopia. There are not to many coffees presented at this grade in general, and there is a big competition to get hold on those at the auction.

Spent some days roasting all kind of coffees at the BNT exporters lab. Got pretty good friends with this CoffeePro electric sample roaster.

Spent some days roasting all kind of coffees at the BNT exporters lab. Got pretty good friends with this CoffeePro electric sample roaster.

After days of cupping we did a wrap cupping tasting of all the best coffees tasted throughout the week. The lots are basically being contracted as this week. As many of the coffees are ready to be rolled out we are hoping for some early shipments this year. If we are really lucky we will se the coffees coming to Europe in about a 6 weeks time.

Always interesting to cup in different environments. As the altitude in Addis is above 2000 meters above sea level extraction is very different than at home. The water hardness as well as the freshness of the green coffee makes you have to adjust and see the potential taking all this parameters in to consideration. It's a challenge, but very rewarding when you get it right.

Always interesting to cup in different environments. As the altitude in Addis is above 2000 meters above sea level extraction is very different than at home. The water hardness as well as the freshness of the green coffee makes you have to adjust and see the potential taking all this parameters in to consideration. It’s a challenge, but very rewarding when you get it right.

SONY DSC

Workers and management of one of the many Factories we buy from in Kenya

As some of you might have noticed there is a local political challenge in regards to the coffee supply from the Cooperative Societies in Nyeri at the moment. Se PDF at the bottom of the post for a statement sent out recently from our exporting partner in Kenya.

I am currently in Africa cupping and buying coffees from Kenya and Ethiopia. I just passed by Kenya to cup the first incoming high quality lots and the potential for this harvest seems to be great. There are also way bigger amounts of AA’s this year than the last, estimated to be around 40%. Before you continue to read the below I can assure all of our clients that we will access great Kenyan coffees again this year, but it might be challenging, at least for now, to get hold of coffee from the exact same Cooperative mills and producers as previous years.

We normally buy our coffees in Kenya through the direct/second window system. Much of the coffee we buy comes from a dry mill in Nyeri (CKCM) that receives all the parchment from related cooperatives and factories like Gitchathaini, Thunguri, Tegu, Karogoto etc.  The mill is managed by a company called CMS (Coffee Management Services) that is also the marketing agent the Cooperatives and farmers, responsible for bringing the coffees to the marketplace.  CMS also assists the cooperatives and growers on quality at site and in the fields.  Our coffee is processed to export standard and often packed in either vacuum or grainpro in an exporter’s factory in Nairobi.

Through this brilliant system we can normally access coffees from some of the greatest Copperatives in Nyeri, directly, without having to buy coffees that have been going through the coffee auction system. This seems at present and short term to be challenging from many of the Nyeri Cooperatives, at least until the situation is settled.

The short version is that the recently elected governor is forcing the Factories (wet mills) under the Cooperative Societies to deliver all their coffee to the governmental owned mill. This resulted in the growers, and cooperatives taking their local government authority to the High court claiming their constitutional right to choose with whom and where they market and mill their coffee. On top of that last Thursday CKCM (the dry mill we work through) was issued an Enforcement order which has, basically, ground its operations to a halt.   The document cites various failures to acquire necessary permits and licenses to carry out its business, including environmental and health and safety assessments.

I am not concerned longer term, as this makes no sense for anyone in the actual supply chain, and hopefully it will be resolved within days or weeks so that we are going back to normal buying practices.

Morten W

For more information read this announcement from Dormans Coffee LTD.

As many of you know Central and South America is suffering from heavy leaf rust attacks.

SONY DSC

This is a small presentation from our producers in El Salvador, Salaverrias, on how they work to recover. Even if they were far better of than many other producers as they have good altitudes and have great farmer practices ,this is great news for the upcoming harvest and the quality.

RUST PRESENTATION

You can also read more about leaf rust here: http://www.ico.org/leafrust_e.asp

It’s been a while since we posted some news here – I think it’s about time to do a wrap up so far this year. It’s been a great year up to now and really busy. We have been doing our very best to keep up with the coffees coming in, sample distribution to all of our clients as well as juggling the orders, packing and separation at the warehouse etc. Hopefully we have managed to give the service and efficiency we strive to accomplish, and if there are people or clients out there that for some reason feels ignored or neglected we would love to have that feedback as well!

Overall I think this years coffees have been cupping fantastic, and we are super happy and proud to be getting all the amazing feedback from roasters and coffee people out there.  It’s cool when our clients send us their roasted coffee as well, and more of that stuff is very welcome….!

We, Alec and I, just came back form Africa. The aim this time was to follow up our shipments from Burundi and Rwanda that is now afloat. Some information and photos follow in the posts below.

We are also arranging some trips to origin where clients are welcome to tag along and travel with us this year to Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia and Centrals. It will be announced on Facebook and twitter when we have the dates. But if you’re interested in anything specific let us know. The earlier the better and we will keep you posted.

Mesele Haille, Seife, and Mesele's wife Workye. Mesele is one of

Mesele Haille, Seife, and Mesele’s wife Workye. Mesele is one of

And: Welcome Seife!

Seife Tuloskorpi is now on board as a permanent member of the Nordic Approach crew, as the country manager for Ethiopia! Some of the coffees we have accessed, selected and got milled and shipped based on great follow up through this collaboration has been mind blowing. Basically Seife will be in charge of quality control on the ground there and the relations to our producers and partners. He will also manage and develop the FOB sales going directly to clients. Meaning we will be able to supply great coffees not only spot but also to roasters able to import directly them selves. Seife will spend about half the year in Ethiopia and the rest in Oslo and Europe to follow up on sales.

If you’re in Ethiopia and want to catch up, cup some samples etc you can always get in touch with Seife.  seife@nordicapproach.no

Some information and country previews can be found on the posts below:

MW

Preview: Burundi 2013

Preview: Rwanda 2013

Preview: Ethiopia 2013/2014

Preview: Kenya 2013/2014

First of all I want to announce that we have 9 fantastic micro lots on their way. They are from different micro regions in the Kayanza area, and are all processed at the wet mill Buziraguhindwa, owned by the producer Salum Ramadhan. 

Buziraguhindwa washing station

Buziraguhindwa washing station

Most of the coffees are a result of an improved preparation the producer calls COE-prep, meaning he will do the same cherry sorting and quality control as he would for coffees delivered to Cup of Excellence. The coffees are named after the area the cherries are collected in, as Salum select and separates the coffees based on region as well as cherry quality.

The first 4 places in Cup of Excellence this year was from that same region, and it is not coincidental in my opinion. We were lucky enough to get the chance to cup the top 10 table at the competition in Burundi and some of these coffees as well as the ones we bought from Salum are truly standouts and proofs that Burundi have tons of potential to produce world class coffees.

The coffees are on the way now and are all picked in May/June.

Still, this year was kind of challenging for some producers. Burundi (and Rwanda) normally has a bi-annual cycle and this was the low yielding year. This also means that the cup quality can be great, but it will be less to choose from and though to get good cherries to process for some producers. Some of the Cooperatives we intended to work with hardly had any production at all. When the volumes are low it can unfortunately be hard to get high quality cherries in areas where there is many competitors and wet mills.

In Burundi almost all the producers depend on buying cherries from independent small holders that surrounds the local communal or private wet mill. There will always be producers and exporters around that have already contracted shipment of certain amount of exported green coffees. Meaning, when the crop is low they are desperate to get enough volume, and they don’t get picky on the cherry quality. This again means that if you are a producer that does care and tells the farmer that he will only buy good and ripe cherries, the farmer will just go to the neighbor that he knows doesn’t care and will pay the same for low quality and poor picking as he is desperate for coffee.

We were unfortunately not able to get coffees from Mpemba and Dusangirijambo this year, as a result of a very small crop and some quality issues. Still, we will hopefully continue to buy from them next year as we expect it to be easier to get a broader selection of lots to choose from.

Efrem and Morten at the SIVCA cupping lab in Ngozi, Burundi

Ephrem and Morten at the SIVCA cupping lab in Ngozi, Burundi

We are also initiating a new relationship with another great producer in Kayanza, called Ephrem, who is just now constructing a new wet mill. His family have an organic farm with coffee, vegetables, fruit and cows. He has been in coffee for 30 years and knows very well what he’s doing. We cupped some trials from him this year that were truly amazing, and if we are lucky we will get some small amounts of this coffee in together with a late shipment.

Nevertheless, despite some challenges we are proud of the coffees we have bought this year, and are sure they will be appreciated by both the roasters and consumers out there.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 105 other followers