It’s not hard to see why 30% of the world’s coffee comes from Brazil. With the South American country’s tropical climate, abundant land, supportive infrastructure, and machine-friendly terrains, it’s hard to imagine a better place for coffee farms.
However, the massive volume has also created the belief that Brazilian coffee just isn’t that good. In consumer markets, it’s seen as filler—a mass-produced, commodity coffee. In the third wave of coffee movement, this perception has plagued Brazilian speciality coffee growers.
Francisco "Kiko" Ribeiro wants to change that. A former futebol talent turned passionate coffee farmer, he set out with his collective to not just grow good coffee, but some of the best coffee in the world. Here are three reasons why he might have done it.
- The unique, natural land
- Kiko’s sustainable farming practices
- Empowerment through revenue share
1. The Natural Land
To find Kiko’s coffee farm you’ll need to travel to Carmo de Minas, a municipality of the Minas Gerais state 4+ hours northeast of São Paolo. To coffee lovers, the name might ring a bell. The micro-region at the base of the Mantiqueira mountains are known for its fertile, volcanic soils, high altitude (1200m), and plentiful sunlight. Pretty much the perfect conditions to grow good coffee.
It’s in this ideal landscape that Kiko holds a rather unique part of it. His coffee farm is nestled between 40 hectares of virgin Mata Atlantica forest and the ruins of the first Portuguese settlement in the region. Unlike the majority of the 700 or so farmers of the Cocarive Cooperative he’s part of, Kiko’s land is in the shadow of the valley in a sunbathed region—and you can taste it in the coffee.
We can find notes of:
- Baking chocolate
- Sour cherries
Kiko’s coffee definitely stands out in our mouths and in our minds. (Not to mention high cupping scores!) Let us know what tasting notes you find in a bag of Kiko’s coffee.
2. Sustainable Farming Practices
In 2001, the Cocarive Cooperative banded together to invest in a top-of-the-line sorting and warehousing facility. This allowed the farmers to better pick, replant, and dry their arabica beans at times best for the soil.
Sustainable, greener coffee. The priority has always been on the health and sustainability of their environment—a stark contrast from the slash-and-burn agriculture Brazil has more recently been known for. The coffee farmers of Carmo de Minas see their land as their livelihood and strive to not overuse it. Car window conversations are a common sight as growers share the best tips and techniques on-the-go on how best to harvest with the least impact.
Kiko is no different. In fact, he uses mules instead of machinery, which is gentler on his land. By producing high-quality microlots that grow some of the best coffee in the world, he also protects the 40 hectares of Mata Atlantica on his land from deforestation. Today, he is working on converting his farm to 100% solar power to further decrease his carbon footprint.
Onda is proud to be the first stateside retailer to partner with Kiko and the Cocarive Cooperative. We continue their sustainability efforts by offering their best coffee in partially biodegradable coffee bags.
3. Quality Through Revenue Sharing
The price of coffee paid to coffee farmers is the same as it was in the 1980's, while the average price for a cup of coffee has increased by 500%.
It’s a fact worth repeating. If in the third wave of coffee consumers are demanding higher-quality, specialty coffee, where’s that money going to?
We at Onda think that you should know where your coffee comes from and who grew it. By getting ourselves directly involved in the supply chain, we’re not only ensuring better coffee, but also a fairer distribution of the profits to the people responsible for the coffee’s quality.
This empowers farmers like Kiko. At the co-op, they get final call on the price of their crop. They don’t have to live on razor-thin margins and be forced to cut down forests or strip their land to get by.