The Mantiqueira region is now well known for its distinct flavour profiles from coffees grown at relative high altitude with steep folds on the slopes that bear the trees. This came from a concerted effort by Cocarive and others to really push for recognition and quality and resulted in a dominance of farms from the area in Cup of Excellence tables across both Pulped and Natural. This has since lead to a number of farms no longer entering as the name has been made, preferring to focus on growing the long-term sustainability of the farm by forging relationships with roasters. The area now has its own geographical indication reflecting both a minimum score and topographical limitation.
Grown on the slopes of a hillock nestled in the lee of the Serra de Mantiqueira, the yellow varietals are more common, in part due to mutations by the plant itself to deal with growing under full sun, and in part due to selection from preferences in cup profile. Out here, yellow varietals are definitely king. Cocarive are currently conducting research into the rate at which yellow varietals photosynthesise as this is slower than red, and consensus has it that this is behind their distinct characteristics of sweetness and body.
Glaucio Carneiro Pinto bought the farm back in 1992 having been in coffee farming since the mid-1960s, and now has just under 500 hectares under coffee production. The grandson and son of coffee farmers, he is well placed in his dual role of farmer and vice president of Cocarive, helping other farmers in the region.
Beans here are hand-picked when ripe – for yellow cherries this means the skins have freckles or resemble a banana – and then taken down the hill to the small concrete drying patio with tiled washing station for the experimental lots. They are spread thinly on the ground to dry and regularly turned until they are taken to the mill for hulling and bagging. Bags are then received by Cocarive in their purpose built warehouse, cleaned again and laser sorted for any colour defects. Density tables split in to screen sizes and the coffee is finally bagged just before export.