Jamie recently visited Brazil and met up with Alvaro from Sitio Da Torre. Alvaro is both the manager for the warehouse at Cocarive and the owner of the family farm that we regularly visit. Since we last visited, he has bought neighboring land where get continues his experimentation with Geisha, Catigua and Obata trialing new forms of organic production and cover cropping.
Lately, Alvaro has partnered with a local café that also organises tours where hundreds of people (at least in July) come to visit the farm. This also helps bring additional revenue that is further invested into the farm.
We catch up with Alvaro to learn a little more about the farm, business, and coffee in Carmo De Minas.
Tell us a little about you.
My name is Alvaro Antônio Pereira Coli, son of Paulo Afrânio Pereira Coli (in memorian) and Adila Pereira Coli, born on November 12th 1965, in Carmo de Minas, Brazil. My parents had seven children and I am the only male. I had a simple life, living in the city, but always going to the farm with my father.
My parents always had the family union as a pillar of life and today I perpetuate this idea. My family is the most valuable thing I have. I am married and am a father of two children: Andressa, 25, who is a lawyer, and Gustavo, 20, who is studying business administration. They both live here in Carmo de Minas and they help me a lot on the farm. I have owned Sítio da Torre since 1995 and have worked at Cocarive since 1986.
Tell us about your journey in coffee.
From a very young age, I helped my parents to take care of the coffee and the cattle. I always studied and worked on the farm until I was 19 years old (1986), when I started working at Cocarive, where I still work full-time. In 1995, when my father lost his sight in an accident at the Sítio, I took over the administration and started to grow only coffee, planting more crops, but at the time I still took care of everything as my father used to do, coffee was a commodity, because there wasn’t much concern about the post-harvest process.
In 2002 I heard about specialty coffee and how to produce it and I started to implement the idea on the site, studying a lot and perfecting all planting and post-harvest, always focused on the quality of our product. In 2003 we were finalists in the first coffee contest that I participated and then I started to see the result of all the work, after that there was no time when I had thought of abandoning the production of specialty coffees. It became a passion for production
What were you doing before you joined Cocarive?
Before joining Cocarive, I worked on the farm with my parents, with coffee and cattle, and studied accounting. I graduated as a technician in December 1984, and in March 1985 I started working at the Rural Producers Union of Carmo de Minas until March 1986, when I started working at Cocarive, where I am until today.
What does your role look like at Cocarive?
It’s a long walk at Cocarive, after all, it’s been 36 years. I started in 1986 as an office assistant, working in accounting and tax areas, a few years later I started selling coffee (domestic market) until 2014. Between 2015 and 2018 I was secretary director, during that period and until 2019 I managed the warehouse. Since 2020 I have managed our supplies store, where we supply all kinds of products and supplies to our members
How do you manage your time between being the manager at the store and managing your farm, Sitio Da Torre?
Well, it’s a very busy routine to manage the Sítio da Torre and work at Cocarive. I wake up at 5:30 am everyday and have my coffee. I then go to the farm around 6 am, I stay there until 7:30 am when I start working at Cocarive. I have 1:30h for lunch, so I take the opportunity to go to the Sítio to see if everything is ok and then go back to the cooperative. At 5:00 pm, when I leave Cocarive and go to the farm and stay there until dark.
At harvest time I take the whole family to spend a few weeks there, because the work is more intense. The proximity of the site to the city also helps a lot! It’s about 2km, so you can manage your time well. Besides, on Saturdays and Sundays I usually stay all day at the farm with my family, and then I take the opportunity to walk around the fields more calmly. And I can tell you, there is time to spend with the family too, which I think is super important.
Is there anything you like doing in your spare time?
I enjoy playing football every Sunday morning, and the rest of my free time I love to spend time with my family, in the city or on the farm. Ah, I also like a good barbecue and beer (hahaha). When I go on vacation, I usually go to the beach with my family.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I was born, raised and live in Carmo de Minas.
If you had one day in your city, how would you spend it?
If I have and I always have free days, what I like to do most is stay with my family or go to the Sítio to walk through the coffee plantations
How do you take your coffee?
My coffee is made daily in a cloth strainer (my favorite), I also like the French press
What is your favorite coffee varietal and processing method?
With no doubt, it is the yellow Bourbon, made in the Natural process.