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.
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 being grown at higher elevations and therefore forming a larger percentage of quality coffees from the region. Cupped blind in the tasting rooms of Cocarive though, this red Acaia stood out both in flavour and as a red varietal too.
The coffee comes from a couple of farms in the hills surrounding Carmo de Minas, where it is picked, processed and hulled before being brought to the Cocarive warehouse just outside São Lourenço. Coffee here is rested in large wooden lined silos It is then rigorously cupped under the guidance of ex Brazilian cupping Champion Wellington Pereira before being cleaned and sorted once again, bagged and exported.
Acaia is a mutation of Mundo Novo that was selected and has been grown as a cultivar since being distributed in 1977. Mundo Novo 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. Of these, Acaia IAC 474-19 is the most commonly found. Typically growing to 4.2 metres high at maturity if unpruned, the tree produces a larger bean on a slightly conical shaped tree, generally around screen 18/19.