New Coffee with Wild Tropical Fruit Notes from Brazil to Spyhouse
Spyhouse travels the world to find the best coffees and Brazil is the largest coffee producing country within it. Being a primary component in our signature blends, Brazil comprises a massive amount of our purchasing each year. While the country is known for its massive estates, its small farms have standout coffees that have become Spyhouse favorites, and deepening relationships with the farmers that produce them is a priority and key to getting the best. Our purchasing is intentional to achieve the result we strive for and investing in a single community, its producers, and their neighbors means the choices we make have more impact.
Director of Coffee, Tony Querio, recently returned from Brazil where our largest volume of coffee comes from. Here’s a snapshot of Tony’s experience at CarmoCoffees, where he got a better understanding of the geography that makes their coffees so dependable, and the four generations of care and attention they give to it.
Tony Querio – Roaster on the Road
Finally having the opportunity to travel to Carmo de Minas, Brazil was, for me, a long time coming. CarmoCoffee has deeply marked the history of Spyhouse. Christian, our owner/founder, traveled their farms with Café Imports, while exploring the first steps of building out a roasting program. He stood on the deck of the farm’s famous treehouse that divides two of their farms, looking out over the entrance to Fazenda Santa Iñes. From day one, Carmo’s cherry-dried Yellow Bourbon’s have been a central element in our flagship blend, Orion.
After rapidly working through four cupping tables, we headed out to Pedralva to visit the Pedra Branca mill and some of the surrounding small farms. The first we visited, Sitio Santa Catarina, was straight up the very steep mountain from the mill. We climbed out of the truck to a long raised drying bed of perfectly ripe coffee cherries. We walked through the trees to the farm’s namesake, a massive boulder protruding out of the mountain, with 30-foot sheer drop-offs on each side and an icon of Saint Catherine placed at the peak. The views from these outlooks were indescribable, with the sun casting its last golden beams across the ridges and villages below us.
Fazenda Santa Iñes | Variety experiments at Fazenda Irmãs Pereira
Cherry-dried anaerobic fermentation | Takkø Café in São Paulo
The following morning, we were able to cup through more micro-lot and yellow bourbon offerings. Amongst the micro-lots was one offering that was filled with a broad range of wild fruit tones. The sugary nature and tart sweetness of this coffee reminded me of kiwi Starburst candies. After the table was completed, it was revealed that it was a “natural anaerobic fermentation” lot from Sitio Sant Catarina. In anaerobic fermentation, the coffee—in this case, still in the fruit—is placed in an airtight barrel. As the oxygen is forced out through fermentation, different yeast strains are able to survive, creating a unique cup profile. Although I tend to avoid experimental processes when purchasing, this coffee was too good to not take home. Working through the tables of yellow bourbon options, each lot from Santa Iñes seemed to be a standout. The lots showed more completeness and complexity than some of the other farms. They were able to have bright fruit notes, while holding onto a syrupy body. These are the types of coffees I love to find when I travel—coffee that I know I can bring home and share with just about anybody. The clarity and sweetness of these coffees made the decision for me. This was the coffee I had to bring back for our customers.
On the last morning of our trip, we were able to drive out to Santa Iñes with Luiz Paulo and meet the farm manager. Working our way deeper into the farm, we finally arrived in a wide ravine, planted with row upon row of yellow bourbon. Luiz explained how the ridges surrounding three sides protected their most prized trees from the elements and disease. I finally was amongst the trees that laid the foundation for our roasting program staring off to the rolling foothills fading out into the distance.
Spyhouse is grateful for our relationship with CarmoCoffee and we’re excited to share our updated Orion and bring Sitio Santa Catrina with its broad range of fruit tones to our cafes after the holidays.