El Progreso Decaf, Brazil
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Roast Level: Medium
Process: Pulped natural
Varietal: Catuaí, Catucai, Yellow Topazio
Roaster's Notes: This CO2 processes decaf coffee embodies what Brazilian coffee has come to represent. Great base flavours of chocolate and biscuits, with a slight red apple crispness. A great alternative for those who can't drink caffeine.
Producer: Pedro Hugh Borré and Fabiano Borré
Region: Mucugê and Ibicoara
Altitude: 1,150 - 1,200 metres
Fazenda Progresso is a relatively young coffee farm that lies at around 1,150 metres in the mountainous Chapada Diamantina region of Bahia, northern Brazil. This 22,000-hectare family business started life in 1984 as a vegetable farm and is now one of Brazil’s largest potato producers - but they only diversified into coffee relatively recently.
When Progresso was first founded, it was given its name – the same name that the family business had in Southern Brazil. The name means ‘Progress’ in English and has a direct relationship with the family’s concept and philosophy of business. It is clear (and has been for a very long time) that the name portrays the family’s commitment to the movement, innovation, and improvement in every working day.
To this end, the Borré family has invested heavily in developing Progresso’s coffee infrastructure. The farm recently extended production to 1,000 hectares as of the end of 2012. The farm has also built its own processing facilities on-site, which produce washed, pulped natural and natural coffees. Progresso’s coffee division currently employs some 200 permanent workers, which swells to between 400 and 500 during harvest. Unfortunately after the big drought in Brazil in 2011/2012 - a problem that continues to plague the industry – the area under coffee has been slightly reduced, as 100% of the farm is irrigated. However, to combat climate change, the family has begun to change the way the coffee plantation is managed. With the new techniques and technologies that are being used today, they expect to reinitiate expanding their production in the coming years.
The harvest usually runs from June until September, during which the first two passes are picked by hand. This particular lot from Progresso is a pulped natural process coffee - the ripe cherries are pulped and then dried in the sun on concrete patios for 24 hours with the sticky mucilage still attached. They are then being finished off in guardiola dryers until they reach the optimum humidity level. The beans are rested and stored in parchment until immediately prior to export. Approximately 70% of all production is destined for international specialty markets.
Worker welfare is important to the family. In fact, work clothing, sunscreen, and other safety equipment is supplied and paid for by the family. Farmworkers are organised in several geographical sectors throughout the farm, and in most of them the uniform colour is a bright, almost-cerulean blue. There’s no specific reason for this colour, but it means that workers are easily identified in the fields, further contributing to safety. According to the family, as well, blue is a very subtle colour that mirrors the blue of the Brazilian sky, creating a positive aesthetic experience of the landscape. They have also built and foster a school for children in a village next to the farm, further contributing to the wider community.