‘IT NEVER RAINHA’S BUT IT POURS’
It is always sad when we say goodbye to a tasty coffee, but this sadness is most certainly the real deal when said coffee is attached to a relationship spanning seven long chocolate and nut-filled years. Not only is Marcelo Montanari’s Brazilian coffee one of our most popular, it is also an incredibly important component of our House blend. It offers great balance, body and sweetness that creates the perfect base to which a blend can be built upon. Season after season, Fazenda Rainha Da Paz’s Rubi varietal has been unbelievably consistent and offered exactly what we look for in a natural Brazilian coffee. It has been a mainstay on the bar in our very own coffee shop since opening, and graced the portafilters of many of our hero wholesale partners over the past few years.
It is a relationship we have cherished since Hols’ first visit in 2014 where she warmed to Marcelo and his unwavering commitment to bettering the industry and the quality of his coffee, without compromise to the environment, the land he farms and the people he employs. She knew there and then that he was the perfect partner who not only aligned with the principles we hold dear here at North Star but had a clear dedication to the production of seriously tasty specialty grade coffee. Over the years, your support has allowed us to purchase more and more coffee from Marcelo, greater increasing the impact we have been able to have over at Fazenda Rainha Da Paz. It is safe to say that moving away from this fantastic fazenda and the relationship we have built has been a far from easy decision, but we hope all will become clearer as you read on.
For context, it is important to note that the global market (C market) price for coffee is almost entirely determined by the amount produced in Brazil, the world’s largest producer. When supply is high, the price producers across the globe can hope to achieve for their coffee falls. Equally, when supply falls short of predicted volumes, price soars. So, what has this got to do with the change to our Brazilian offering?!
In July of 2021 Minas Gerais, a major coffee-producing region in Brazil and the home to Fazenda Rainha da Paz, was hit with a freak ‘black’ frost. Average temperatures fell as low as -1.2°C causing disastrous and destructive damage to coffee crops in the area. This catastrophic meteorological event swept the country affecting the regions that produce the most substantial volumes of coffee. Not only was the 21/22 harvest heavily impacted but the consequences are most certainly going to be felt in many harvests to come. In fact, initial assessments have estimated that the current 22/23 harvest may be down as many as 10 million bags!
As a result, many farmers have lost their income and are now reliant on government support to help with the replanting of their precious crop. This means that these producers will have much less coffee available, which is the unfortunate situation Marcelo and his family have found themselves in. They simply didn’t have enough volume to supply what is our largest contract and in the face of this reduced supply, the Montanari’s understandably needed to take advantage of the market when it was at its highest in an attempt to recoup as much of their losses as possible. Sadly, with the increases we ourselves have faced in these crazy times of rising energy costs and labour these past few months, it was with a heavy heart that we were unable to meet their purchase requirements this year.
Yes, this is a sad situation we find ourselves in and yes, we may be saying goodbye to an amazing seven year partnership, but in our eyes goodbye’s don’t necessarily have to last forever! Let’s look at this one as more of a fond adieu for now. After all, it is our responsibility to ensure that your cups remain full of a Brazilian brew that matches both the profile and quality you have grown to know and love over the past seven years.
DO GO CHASING WATERFALLS – OLA FAZENDA 7 CACHOEIRAS!
This is where our good friend Jo (Ops Manager at Volcafe) stepped in to lend a helping hand. The timing couldn’t have been better with Jo imminently departing to Brazil for her annual check-in with Volcafe’s producing partners over in Minas. We were sent a number of type samples to assess prior to her departure and landed on a profile that hit similar notes to what we always valued so highly in Marcelo’s Montanari’s offering. And it appears Marcelo’s really know their stuff when it comes to producing quality specialty coffee!
We are excited to announce that this year’s Brazilian offering will be coming to us from Marcelo Brito’s family farm in Sul De Minas. Fazenda 7 Cachoeiras (meaning seven waterfalls) is, funnily enough, named after the seven waterfalls found in the surrounding area that borders the expansive 800ha farm. Marcelo saw great potential in the coffee industry and seized the chance to purchase seven Cachoeiras back in 2000, seeing it as an amazing business opportunity for himself and his son Andre. Under the Brito’s management this amazing fazenda has truly become a model of sustainable management and production over the past 22 years.
After learning more about Marcelo and his mission it is clear that the values and principles we hold dear are shared with those that have gone on to shape Fazenda 7 Cachoeiras. A mission that is underpinned by a desire to produce high quality specialty coffees, whilst respecting and conserving the environment and providing better working conditions for the employee’s responsible for its production.
Quality focused, modern farming practices have been introduced over the years and mechanisation for picking allows for consistent supply and efficient production. The farm is also carbon neutral, through carbon insetting. which is the process of offsetting it’s emissions on-site. An achievement reached through a combination of solar panels, using parchment to fire the dryers and going above the legal requirement of leaving 20% of land as wild ‘reserve’. In addition, 7 Cachoeiras is both UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certified, though Marcelo and his family are fairly unique in that their own practices and standards have always gone way beyond what is required for certification. As well as their commitment to the environment, there is a clear focus on social empowerment within the workforce on the estate. Employees have access to education and health care services, are paid more than double the minimum wage for their work and are even eligible to a bonus each month that can reach as high as 30-40% of this wage. The criteria of this bonus is based on positive impact at both work and in the home, ensuring an improvement to the lives of not just the staff, but their families too.
It is also important to note that the coffee tastes fantastic too, which we’re sure you’ll be delighted to hear. Expect the same sweetness, balance, creamy body and chocolate/nut notes that you will have become accustomed to over the last few years. We can’t wait for you to try it and when you do, we hope you’ll join us in a toast, to old friends and new.