This farm and its coffee sparked a massive change in what I thought we knew about coffee. We remember the first time we ever cupped this coffee: time stood still as the cup opened our minds to what great coffee is and can be. Gabriel de Carvalho Dias, the farmer, continues to produce great coffee year on year, and this coffee still holds a very special place in our hearts.
Gabriel is one of Brazil’s leading agronomists. His family owns several farms, all of which border one another. Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama is 417 hectares in size – that’s 4 square kilometres! That sounds huge, but it’s not uncommon for farms to be more than 1,000 hectares.
Because of the mountainous terrain, however, only 64 hectares are planted with coffee, and it's all picked and maintained by hand. The mill is located close to the spa town of Poços de Caldas, which is 45 minutes away from the farm.
Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama has been in the Carvalho Dias family since 1890. It's located in São Paolo state, just three miles from the border with Minas Gerais state. It enjoys the typical characteristics of the mountainous Mogiana and Sul de Minas regions, and it's located at an altitude of 1,100–1,250 metres above sea level.
Their farm has a school, a club and a full-sized soccer field for the employees and workers, and 47 houses – all with modern facilities. The wastewater is treated in order to avoid polluting the stream that runs across the farm. The farm has a small hydroelectric plant, and the farmers only buy energy during the peak harvest.
As well as providing support to the workers, the family have also invested in the farm's coffee processing facilities. This has allowed them to produce one of the most consistent and delicious coffees. They grow mostly Yellow Bourbon, but also Canario and Mundo Novo. It's well-established plant stock, and some of the original Bourbon varietal trees are as much as 108 years old.
They’ve also invested in trying new things, including planting some new varietals and trialling new fermentation experiments with the involvement of experts from the University of Lavras (UFLA) in Minas Gerais.
The Carvalho Dias family consider social and environmental sustainability to be very important. The farm has a programme of planting native species of trees to maintain a better ecological balance.
This comes from the rare Canario varietal, which is a Bourbon mutation that originated in Brazil. You can find out more about it here, but what you will notice in the cup is that it adds complexity and a little acidity when compared to the Bourbon varietal.
Fit for the ambassador's dinner, there's the classic Brazil hazelnut and chocolate flavours, but extra refined. There's a sweetness and silky texture of single cream alongside chocolate spread, whilst the sprinkle of hazelnuts gets a twist with roasted chestnut in there too.
- Country: Brazil
- State: São Paulo
- Municipality: São Sebastião da Grama
- Farm: Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama
- Producers: Lidolpho de Carvalho Dias and family
- Processing: Natural
- Varietal: Canario
- Altitude: 1,100–1,250 m.a.s.l.
Hazelnut chocolate spread, single cream, roasted chestnut
Clean cup: (1–8): 6
Sweetness: (1–8): 7
Acidity: (1–8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 7
Flavour: (1–8): 6.5
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6.5
Balance: (1–8): 6
Overall: (1–8): 6.5
Correction (+36): +36
Total (max. 100): 87.5
Medium to medium-dark - through first and give it some time in the gap, but no more than the very first pops of second crack on the drop. Beware that there's not so much noise from this coffee, so spotting cracks will be tricky.