Coffee Express received an invitation to join a select group of small, U.S. specialty roasters on a tour of the Cerrado coffee growing region in Brazil. The best thing I’ve done was to say yes.

In the wide world of specialty coffees, Brazil isn’t generally regarded in the same light as high grown, complex coffees such as Costa Rican or Kenyan. We’ve made good use of coffees from Brazil since we began roasting in the 1980s. However, it’s only recently that Brazil naturals – the traditional type, and the newer semi-pulped and fully washed – have come into favor. At their best Brazils bring smoothness, velvety subtle nut flavors, and hints of chocolate.

Cerrado is in the western part of the state of Minas Gerais, in the heart of Brazil’s coffee production, and grows a major portion of the crop. We visited four farms and three cooperatives in three days. Cooperatives process, bag and ship coffees. You can go to YouTube.com and type in Trip to Cerrado to see some home video of the trip.

Traceability

Even in a strictly delineated growing area, such as Antigua in Guatemala, Yirgacheffe in Ethiopia, or Blue Mountain in Jamaica, coffees from various farms are processed together. It’s rare that you can trace a coffee to its source. One of the reasons Brazil invited this group was to continue the dialogue of what the consumer market is looking for, and how producers can adapt. As large as Brazil’s coffee production is, they too are interested in singling out the best growths.

As I sit here finishing the article, I’m in New York attending the National Coffee Association’s annual Fall Educational Conference. Folks, the trend is certainly going to a further specialization of specialty. Microlots are taking hold. A microlot is generally from 20 to 90 bags of green coffee, traced to a farm, and to a processing mill. More detailed techniques are being developed at the farm and mill to answer the requirements of an increasingly sophisticated drinker. Check our current supply of microlots we plan to always have a few varieties on hand, and would love to help you find a retailer near you so you can try some of these wonderfully interesting coffees!