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Ally Champ Trip 2022 - Champions in Brazil

We embarked on our latest Ally Champ Trip on July 31 this year, returning to origin with the coffee industry’s champion competitors for the first time since 2019. As the official Origin Trip Sponsor for the World Coffee Events and US Coffee Championships’ Barista, Brewers, Roasters, and Cup Tasters competitions, we look forward to these opportunities to bring the two ends of the supply chain together and were thrilled to take a group of World Champions and esteemed coffee professionals to Ally’s home country: Brazil.

Joining the trip this year were several coffee professionals from around the globe, including:

  • Emi Fukahori, 2018 World Brewers Cup Champion, Switzerland
  • Vladimir Nenashev, 2018 World Roasters Champion, Russia
  • Arseniy Kuznetsov, 2019 World Roasters Champion, Russia
  • Agnieszka Rojewska, 2018 World Barista Champion, Poland
  • Sarah Allen, Founder, Barista Magazine
  • Nora Smahelova, Coffee Education Leader, Accademia del Caffè Espresso
  • Tasmin Grant, Managing Editor, Perfect Daily Grind
  • Dominik Mucklow, Origin Product Manager, Cropster

Our past Champ Trips have visited Brazil and Colombia, beginning with our first Champ Trip in 2016. This year we toured partner farms and facilities in the Alta Mogiana, Cerrado Mineiro, and Chapada de Minas growing regions, getting to experience a full range of coffee production stages including growing, harvesting, processing, and quality control as we visited Fazenda Minamihara, Fazenda Bela Época, Cafebras, Fazenda Dois Irmãos, and Fazenda Primavera. We’re excited to be able to share parts of our trip with you in this article, using images from our journey, a recap of some of our many activities around Brazil, and words from some of the attendees and hosts we were able to share time with.

Fazenda Minamihara

Led today by Getulio Minamihara, Fazenda Minamihara is named for the Minamihara family who emigrated to Brazil from Japan in the 1930s to work in the coffee industry. The farm was founded by Getulio's grandfather, making Getulio and his son Anderson the third and fourth generation of the family to produce coffee on the land. Getulio has dedicated the farm’s operations to producing high quality coffees, investing in new technologies, and searching for more sustainable methods of production. The team at the farm doesn’t use any toxic pesticides or herbicides, opting for biological treatments as part of their 100% certified Organic practices.

During our time at Fazenda Minamihara we were able to connect with the Minamihara family, including Getulio, his wife Clara, and son Anderson, as well as several Brazilian coffee professionals invited to take part in the experience with us. We toured the farm, led by Fazenda Minamihara employee and 2018 Brazilian Barista Champion Martha Grill, cupped coffees, recorded a podcast with Thiago Rasta of Torrando Ideias, and even had our own Coffee in Good Spirits (CIGS) competition organized by 2018 Brazilian CIGS Champion Ariel Todeschini, bringing together our Champ Trip attendees with some of Brazil’s top baristas like 2022 Brazilian CIGS Champion Daniel Munari, 2022 Brazilian CIGS Runner-Up Mari Mesquita, and two-time Brazilian CIGS Champion Emerson Nascimento ahead of their 2022 Brazil CIGS finals.

Clockwise from top-left: Ally Coffee Brazil Commercial Manager Roni Costa with the Champ Trip group at Fazenda Minamihara, Getulio Minamihara showing off red coffee cherries on the farm, cupping coffees from Fazenda Minamihara, Martha Grill preparing a cupping for the group (credit: Igor do Vale).

What was your favorite moment during the trip?
Tasmin: The cupping at Minamihara—that was one of the first times that I have tasted such bright, clean, and acidic Brazilian coffees, which is not what I was expecting! Also, the warm and welcoming atmosphere at the farm—including the local baristas who joined us—was such a heartfelt way to begin the trip. Everyone was so hospitable and friendly, and I met some incredible people who I hope to see again.

Clockwise from top-left: Coffee cherries being dried at Fazenda Minamihara, coffee plants growing under the shade of Minamihara's avocado trees, Martha Grill leading a walking tour of the farm and facilities, Ally Coffee US Sales Manager Sara Frinak in one of the farm's many Organic avocado trees.

What was your favorite moment with the Champ Trip attendees?
Martha Grill: The guided visit. We have prepared a guided tour to introduce the visitors to our way of making coffee from seed to cup. We share the history of the Minamihara family and details of our production of organic and natural coffees shaded by avocados. It was very interesting to observe the curiosities of the champions about our process, drying, choice of exotic varieties, and especially the confirmation of this at the cupping table. It is very gratifying to see the surprise of professionals from other countries at the time of cupping, when they discover that they are tasting Brazilian, organic and natural coffees.

Clockwise from top-left: Getulio, Clara, and Anderson Minamihara, Brazilian barista Mari Mesquita shaking a coffee cocktail, our CIGS competitors for the evening along with our Minamihara hosts, Ricardo Pereira and Cris Mourão podcasting with Thiago Rasta of Torrando Ideias (photo credit for this block: Igor do Vale).

What inspired you to take part in this year’s Champ Trip as a host?
Anderson Minamihara: For us at the farm, it was an honor to welcome the World Champions together with Ally's team and our friends. It is very important for the entire coffee chain to demonstrate from seed to cup what is done in the coffee, [and] what care is taken on the farm to ensure that quality coffee arrives in the cup. This interaction with the world champions, [who have] the possibility to demonstrate this around the world, is very important for the Minamihara farm, for my family, for the region of Alta Mogiana, and also for Brazil.

Group photo at Fazenda Minamihara

Fazenda Bela Época

Fazenda Bela Época has been growing coffee for more than 80 years under the management of three generations of passionate coffee producers. Luís Cláudio Cunha along with his brother, Managing Partner André Luís, and their sister, Silvia, now lead the family business which was inherited from their attentive father, Luís da Cunha Sobrinho. With the goal of producing quality coffee, the family is undertaking new projects including selecting new varieties for their 60% Organic production and prioritizing post-harvest processing.

Clockwise from top-left: Members of the Cunha family: Bruno, Tiago, Elaine, Luis Miguel (front), Luis Claudio, Luis, Terezinha, Andre, Vinicius; Arseniy Kuznetsov in the farm's coffee fields, Nursery Manager Maikon with André Luís Cunha and Ally Coffee COO Ricardo Pereira, Bela Época's expansive nursery.

Our visit to Fazenda Bela Época was highlighted by meeting the Cunha family and seeing their operation in action, including their impressively expansive coffee nursery. At the time of our visit, the nursery contained approximately 2 million coffee seedlings in their earliest stages of life, with some seedlings destined for the farm and others planned to become part of the 4 million seedlings that the family sells to other producers annually. This experience showed us some of the thoughtful and intentional work that goes into coffee production well before the plants are in the fields.

How did the trip impact your view of Brazilian coffee/coffee production?
Tasmin: It was interesting to see some smaller-scale Brazilian farms, as I usually associate Brazil with large-scale coffee production. As well as this, the prevalence of organic farming practices and the strict requirements on preserving some 20% of native trees on all farms helped to shift my perspective on the country's coffee sector.

Coffee seedlings at various stages in their development, bottom-right: André Luís Cunha displaying the root systems of two seedlings

How did the trip impact your view of Brazilian coffee/coffee production?
Vladimir: First of all, I admire the approach of Brazilian farmers in the coffee production processes. This is meticulous work at every stage, [with] attention [paid] to even the smallest detail. Secondly, I am impressed how much every farmer we met during the trip loves [their] product, with what pride [they] talk about it, and most importantly, they do not even think about stopping there, but continue to invest even more in development and the future.

Clockwise from top-left: André Luís Cunha talking to the group, the back of André Luís' Fazenda Bela Época shirt featuring a photo of his father, Luís, coffee flowers in bloom in the fields.

The Ally Coffee Champ Trip group with the Cunha family, team from Fazenda Bela Época, and other coffee professionals from Brazil.

Cafebras

Cafebras is an exporter of Brazilian coffees based in Patrocínio, Minas Gerais and is part of Grupo Montesanto Tavares as one of Ally Coffee’s sister companies. Cafebras was founded in 2013 and was inspired by increasing demand in the coffee market, and by opportunities generated by new global consumption trends.

Visiting Cafebras gave us the opportunity to learn more about the purchase and export of coffee in Brazil, providing another perspective on the passionate coffee culture found in Brazil. Along with cupping a range of coffees, we also got the chance to relax and spend time with a number of coffee professionals from Brazil, creating new connections and new conversations between people from different backgrounds through a shared love for coffee and coffee people.

Emi Fukahori, Vladimir Nenashev, and Arseniy Kuznetsov discussing the coffee they're cupping at Cafebras.

How did the trip impact your view of Brazilian coffee/coffee production?
Sarah Allen: I have learned so much from Ally about Brazilian coffee, which is often maligned in specialty circles. On this trip, Ally showed us so many facets of coffee production in Brazil, from small and medium size farms to massive ones, discussion about exporting and processing, and even a trip to a vineyard—it's always fascinating to see other agriculture when visiting coffee-producing countries.

What was your favorite moment during the trip?
Emi: Getting to know other champions off the stage - we don't get the opportunity to do [that] so often.

Fazenda Dois Irmãos

Fazenda Dois Irmãos is an expert producer of Natural processed coffees and a leader in growing ethical, traceable, and socially responsible coffee. The 1000 hectare property is covered with 300 hectares of coffee, producing 15–20 different varieties all destined for Natural processing. The farm was founded by Evandro Sanchez and his brother Helio Zacaner Sanchez—the two brothers from whom "Dois Irmãos" takes its name—and is now led by Evandro's daughter Gabriela Baracat Sanchez. Gabriela and her team's constant work of environmental awareness and respect for the land is evident in every detail, as was recently recognized when they became the second farm of any kind in the world to receive REGENAGRI certification for their dedication to regenerative agriculture..

During our visit, Gabriela graciously showed us around the farm’s facilities, including the drying patios, raised beds, mechanical dryers, and milling equipment used to complete all of their post-harvest processing on-site. Along with producing volume lots, Fazenda Dois Irmãos also undertakes regular experiments to produce differentiated microlots which we were able to see, like their recent experiments with intermittent mechanical drying to preserve as much of each coffee cherry’s sugar as possible during the drying phase. This visit proved to be another wonderful reminder that relatively large-scale coffee production doesn’t have to come at the expense of innovation, sustainability, and a constant drive toward quality.

Clockwise from left: Gabriela Baracat Sanchez and Ally Coffee European Sales Manager Cris Mourão, coffee drying on the patio at Fazenda Dois Irmãos, bagging dried cherries to move to the mill

What inspired you to take part in this year’s Champ Trip as a host?
Gabriela: The desire to meet [the attendees], exchange experiences and show everything we develop on the farm such as sustainability, regenerative agriculture, ethical, traceable and certified coffees.

Clockwise from top-left: processing experiments wrapped in netting on the farm's raised drying beds, milling equipment sorting coffee, Vladimir Nenashev and Emi Fukahori cupping coffee at Dois Irmãos

What was your favorite moment with the Champ Trip attendees?
Gabriela: The whole visit was enriching, but what impressed me the most was the moment we did the cupping because all our work and dedication developed on the farm was inside those cups. [Having] feedback from champions evaluating our coffees was gratifying.

The raised drying beds of Fazenda Dois Irmãos

Fazenda Primavera

Part of Grupo Montesanto Tavares (GMT) Farms, Fazenda Primavera is owned by Ricardo Tavares and represents the ultimate fulfillment of his dream to own and operate coffee farms. His life in coffee began at the age of 19 when he decided to leave his career as an economist and instead dedicate himself entirely to the purchase and sale of coffee beans in the interior of Minas Gerais.

A view of Fazenda Primavera's expansive coffee fields from the plane during descent.

Primavera is the largest farm we visited on the trip, including 980 hectares of coffee fields, which gave us the chance to see large-scale specialty coffee production in action. The farm utilizes a wide variety of coffee production techniques and processing methods, with practices like sun-exposed fields and mechanical harvesting on some parts of the property while other plots are intercropped with shade trees and undergo selective picking during the harvest. The processing facilities are similarly expansive, with state-of-the-art processing infrastructure including a 24,000 m² drying patio, 14 electric dryers, and equipment for processing Natural, Pulped Natural, Honey, and fully Washed coffees. During our visit we got to see the property’s facilities, watch mechanical harvest in action, plant our own coffee trees, and spend time with some of the folks who make GMT Farms and Fazenda Primavera happen every day.

Scenes from learning about mechanical harvest practices along Fazenda Primavera’s neatly cultivated rows of coffee

What was your favorite moment during the trip?
Nora: I didn't have a specific favourite moment, because we did so many different activities and visited so many different places. It was highly interesting for me to finally see actively the mechanical harvest, and also the conversations with people who work at the farm to understand better their daily routines and challenges.

Clockwise from top-left: Riding and taking photos in the cherry collection truck, cherries during harvest before sorting, raised drying beds in the distance beyond the farm’s drying patios, coffee spread out on the concrete patio for drying

Clockwise from top-left: Fermentation tanks for producing Washed coffee, some of Primavera’s processing infrastructure, mechanical drum dryers, Agnieszka Rojewska cupping coffee

What thoughts would you like to share following the trip?
Vladimir: Trips like this help to feel all the smallest details in the production of coffee with which we then work at home. This helps us to be confident in every word and every sentence when we talk about coffee to our consumers. Reliable and interesting information step by step helps to develop the coffee market where we operate.

Champ Trip attendees with their newly planted coffee trees at Fazenda Primavera.

Clockwise from top left: Ally Coffee COO Ricardo Pereira evaluating coffee aroma, Ally Coffee Brazil Green Coffee Buyer Amanda Oliveira with her newly planted coffee tree, Emi Fukahori cupping coffee

Pictured left to right: Marina Gomes de Castro, Quality Manager of GMT Farms, Bernabé Barbosa da Silva, Fazenda Primavera employee, Matheus Junquiera, CFO of GMT Farms

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