An essential part of any coffee roasters job is sourcing the green coffee to roast, and there is no better way to do that then to visit source - going to the coffee plantations and meeting the farmers.
The first plantation on our 10 day trip around Brazil is owned by Bruno de Souza - pictured above studying the days harvested coffee crop going into the processing tanks alongside our own coffee roaster Robert Cooper. His farm Facenda Esperanca is backed up by the coffee shop and training centre - plus roastery he has Academia do Café in Belo Horizonte
We had an exclusive look around his farm, seeing the coffee cherries growing on the trees.
We took a drive into the coffee plantation to catch up with the machine they use to harvest the coffee areas. Many coffee growing areas of the world still pick coffee by hand, often because how it grows in very hilly areas inaccessible by equipment. The Brazilian plantations are however on very level ground - so harvesting by machine is possible. The machine itself literally shakes the branches of the coffee tree so the ripe fruit falls off, any fruit that is not ready will remain on the tree. The harvested fruit is transferred by an auger into a waiting trailer.
There is also an area of new coffee tree seedlings, growing to be additional crop providers for future years.
We then visited shade grown coffee plantations, where trees provide the shade for the coffee - this gives the coffee a different unique flavour.
Shade grown coffee trees have to be manually picked, here the worker is selecting only the ripest red cherries to pick.
Once picked the coffee is laid out on drying beds - depending on the processing method being used it will be done in different ways.
Some process involve drying the coffee inside the cherries.
Alternatively the fresh cherries are pulped straight from picking, releasing the green coffee beans which will then be spread out onto coffee beds to dry. Different processes can bring out new and brighter flavours to the coffee - and varying fermentation length can increase cup quality when performed correctly.
An amazing first day seeing the entire process from seedling coffee plants, to the mature trees being harvested by machine and by hand - to the drying beds and sorting tables.