The Serra de Mantiqueira is a mountain range that stretches across São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro states. Located in Minas Gerais, the Mantiqueria de Minas area was the first to get a geographical indication in the Brazilian coffee industry (supported and developed by BSCA). This fresh approach, akin to ‘terroir’ in the wine industry, is redefining how people view specialty coffee from Brazil. The area comprises 69,500 hectares and altitude ranges from 900 to 1,500 masl, with 25 counties in the region and 7,800 producers; 89% are smallholders. Ascarive itself has around 45 members.
The lower altitudes are often grazed by cattle and having steeper slopes compared to other parts of the state mean that the near ubiquitous mechanisation of the coffee industry in Brazil is much less commonly seen, and hand picking more prevalent. Though both red and yellow cherries are grown across the region, altitude often splits the choices, with yellow generally but not exclusively being grown at higher elevations.
Ascarive source from a number of farms that also grow competition microlots at the highest altitudes and so employ the same quality mindset across their entire estate. In an area that has received multiple awards within the Brazilian coffee industry for years, it’s not surprising that its own internal quality competition has arisen, with this years winner scoring 88.30.
Acaia is a more commonly found varietal in Brazil, and is a mutation of Mundo Novo that was selected and has been grown as a cultivar since being distributed in 1977. Mundo Novo itself was a cross between a Sumatran Typica and a Red Bourbon back in the 1940’s, and since then, like a lot of coffees, it now comprises of a small group of trees with slight distinctions between each. IAC is one from the Agronomic Institute of Campinas, an institute that has worked long and hard on developing new varietals with disease resistant traits suitable for the Brazilian terrain.