||Brazil Biodynamic Fazenda Terramater Pulped Natural 2011
||Varietal: Typica and National
Back for a second year, we are so lucky to have a world exclusive of this farm's coffee. Part of our direct trade relationships in Bahia, Brazil, this farm was on its knees when we visited last year.
Fazenda Terramater, owned by Adeodato Meneze, who has been the custodian of this unique farm since the nineteen eighties. It's not your normal specialty coffee farm, in fact I don't think I've been anywhere more different to the norm.
With last year's production of just 8 bags, not because it wasn't possible to produce more (in its heyday this farm produced over 200 bags), but as a result of the farm being disorganised, without a market to sell it to, and with no motivation. Another factor was Adeodato's blind belief in biodynamic farming which has the biggest effect on yield I have ever seen. He refuses to use any external fertilisers apart from the branches, leaves and fauna that fall to the ground from the surrounding plants. There is so much shade and so many trees. This year we're up to 28 bags, because he has somewhere to sell them to (us) as a world exclusive coffee, and he is excited about coffee again.
Adeodato explained that there are lots of birds and animals in the area and if he cut down the trees there would be nowhere else for this wildlife to go. A very clever man, with a degree in agricultural engineering, he spent much of his working life as a scientist. He is also very passionate about biodynamic farming and organic practices. The two must constantly be at odds with each other.
In November 2009 this was the very last farm visited during my trip to Bahia, in fact it was whilst I was on my way back to the airport. Luca, my guide, and one of the leaders of the group of farmers, was not overly keen to show it to me. He kept saying that it was a very different farm and unusual, but that was a red flag for me to want to see it even more.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by two lovely big dogs (Hugo Chavez and Che Guevara), the most amazing family home and a quirky but very relaxing place to be. A ponytailed older guy came out and the first thing he asked was "Americano"? He then went into a rant, and the only words I could really pick out were George Bush. The man turned out to be Adeodato Menezes, the farmer at Fazenda Terramater. He was a bit cautious of me, and I think many visitors have passed through without following up. I enjoyed the visit but for such a relaxing place, I felt a little uneasy, nothing I could put my finger on, but uptight.
This year's visit could not have been more different. I felt so at home, Adeodato's wife had cooked us the biggest meal I had ever seen. We chatted (I have some great photos of us chatting and I don't speak Portuguese whilst he doesn't speak English, but we are deep in conversation). A brilliant visit and one of the highlights of the week for me.
This farm is located in the Chapada Diamantina region which is half way between the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. With an altitude ranging from 1,050 to 1,200 metres it provides the ideal microclimate for coffee farming. The Chapada Diamantina region is the largest biodynamic coffee producing region in Brazil with over 600 workers and their families involved in this form of agriculture.
Biodynamic agriculture is the oldest consciously organic approach to farming and gardening and is one of the most sustainable in existence. It is founded on a holistic and spiritual understanding of nature and the human being, and builds on the pioneering research work of Rudolf Steiner. Has Bean is the first (and at the time of writing, only) Certified Biodynamic Roaster in the UK. I'm going to give you my Has Bean Steve summary of what biodynamic is in one short sentence. Biodynamic means the farmer gives a stuff about the farm, the land, the animals on the farm and the people that live and work on it. Like the sound of it? Yes, me too, and that's why we are involved at the ground level. Ignore the hooky cooky stuff you may have heard about it and remember this - as long as growers follow the good principles of biodynamics then that's good for the cup, the environment and everyone involved.
In the cup you can tell that this has been processed with passion and vision of a farm reinvigorated. Last year we talked about the processing being done off-site to improve the cup, but Adeodato convinced me that lots had been done to improve the processing this year, and expressed how much he wanted keep it on the farm. I thought about it and worried that if we did move it away that we may lose something in the cup. It's the craziest processing but it's doing something right.
There is a woody/bark base to this coffee that I love. I am sure lots of this is because of the food the plants are using from the trees. It's not just shade grown, it's a wonder how it grows at all the amount of overhead cover. Tree branches fall to the ground and decompose feeding the soil, this is all the fertilisation that's used. We also have an experiment of a small batch from a different part of the farm that is starting to prove this methodology has an impact in the cup. It is also to do with the vareital 'National' in which I have found this attribute in the past. It then has a chew-like sweetness that has changed to a chocolate eclair style sweet. It finishes on the bark like base of which it began. This is a pulped natural but you will be forgiven to think it's a natural in the cup, and almost a blend. This is the character of the processing in every cup, this is why I am happy we decided to keep the processing on the farm. Don't think woody in a bad way, it's in a very good way.
Farm: Fazenda Terramater
Farmer: Adeodato Menezes
City: Chapada Diamantina
Farm Size: 20 Hectares
Coffee growing area: 9 Hectares
Altitude: 1100 masl
Varietal: Typica and National
Processing System: Pulped Natural
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