They grow an awful lot of coffee in Brazil, as has been drummed into our psyches since at least the 50s. But most of it isn’t all that good.
Most Brazilian coffee is grown at low altitudes, which results in low density beans, which equate with not so exceptional tasting coffee. Think Maxwell House and CocaCola! But they grow so much coffee in Brazil and some portion of it at heights that there’s some pretty good coffee available from this origin.
Fazenda do Sertao is the name of the farm and roughly translates to ‘backwoods farm’ It’s decent sized, approximately 600 acres, and coffee from different parts of the farm is segregated into separate small lots. This lot would not be thought of as a super cup. Coffee cuppers rate coffees on a 100-point scale. To be considered specialty coffee, the designation used for high quality coffees, a coffee has to score at minimum in the mid 80s. Sweet Maria’s cuppers have rated this coffee at 84.8, which is firmly in the low end of the range. So why are they selling it and why am I offering it?
The rating system for coffee is designed to facilitate the buying of large quantities of coffee, tons, really, and to avoid coffee with noticeable defects. Essentially any coffee scoring in the specialty range is pretty good stuff.
The rating system is also so constructed to favor coffees with lighter flavor elements predominant. This means Kenyas and Central Americans have an inherent advantage when scored. This is fine if you tend to like the more aromatic and necessarily acidic coffees. But it means darker toned coffees, Indonesians and certain American coffees will always score lower. The more rustic Ethiopians, and Yemenis tend not to score very high, though mostly because they often are formally defective, though the “defects” in this case are really what make these coffees particularly desirable.
This coffee has prominent body and predominant nut and cocoa flavors. Very different from a highly floral, fruity Ethiopian, and not really to be compared on an equal basis. The two are really distinctly different drinks. You’ll likely find you have a preference for one or the other type, or that you enjoy the variation.
Photo by Steve Wilson. License CC BY 2.0