Baixadao is located in the Mantiqueira de Minas – one of the most award-winning regions in Brazil. In 2011 it applied for recognition as a Geographic Indication (IG), in the Modality Indication of Origin (PGI) for its worldwide reputation for producing speciality coffees with a high quality and unique profile. This is due to be finally granted in full this year.
This coffee is grown on the Baixadao farm (awarded the highest ever Cup of Excellence score in any country in 2015), owned by Sebastião Afonso Da Silva of the Afonso family, who along with his son, brothers, and sisters also take care of Santa Izabel, Santa Terezhina, Santa Martina, and Sao Sebastiao farms.
Growing up around rice farming, Sebastião Afonso da Silva started off with an idea to increase his and his family’s income. Getting just the one hectare in 1996, the farm is now 350 hectares in total with 80ha under coffee and 80ha under forest. The farm uses a zero-cropping methodology with 35% of the farm under this process at any one time.
Zero cropping takes place after harvesting has finished. The tree is stumped or skeletoned – all productive branches are removed but the root system and trunk left intact. The following year on from this, the tree spends all its energy on re-growing branches which will turn into producing branches the next year. This means there is one whole year without any production. The reinvigorated tree produces much more cherry over the next couple of years that mitigates the on/off cycle (as well as the fallow year) and gives a much more consistent output over the farm.
In any normal year they can still be harvesting up until the last day of December. The altitude is very high for Brazil, rising to over 1300masl at points, meaning the maturation is slower and therefore harvesting a bit more spread out. It is from these later lots that they have achieved – twice – the highest ever Cup of Excellence score of any country with 95.18 in 2015.
Yellow Catuai is a cross between Mundo Novo and Caturra from the Instituto Agronomico of Sao Paulo State. It has a small size and grows vigorously allowing it to be planted tightly generating high yields per hectare. Yellow varietals photosynthesise differently to the red allowing for a more gradual maturation of the fruit. This lot was picked on the 9th May, and was dried for 23 days under cover in the greenhouse on the patio.