Brazil leads the way in specialty coffees
Recanto Machado Plantation, an enormous coffee producer in southeastern Brazil, has set the standard for specialty coffees and is an example of the growing presence of women in agriculture.
Coffees with the aroma of olives, with a sweet touch of caramel or a lilting taste of chocolate are what distinguish the Recanto Machado Plantation, an enormous coffee producer in southeastern Brazil that has set the standard for specialty coffees and is an example of the growing presence of women in agriculture.
Located in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais and the largest producer and exporter of coffee beans in the South American country, Recanto Machado is one of Brazil's largest coffee plantations and its operators go back five generations.
Run by women led by Maria Selma Magalhaes Paiva, the plantation in recent years has united tradition with technological innovation to produce coffee beans that are 70 percent exportable.
The first crops were grown in 1896 and 120 years later Recanto Machado produces 6,000 sacks a year, most of them specialties.
"Results have been great, but there's a lot of responsibility involved and a lot of care (in managing the plantation). It's hard for women in agriculture, where 90 percent are men, mostly machos," said Maria Selma, an activist in the fight for women on farms.
Women now run more than a third (34.8 percent) of Brazil's farms, according to the 2017 Agricultural Census, published Wednesday by the Brazilian Geography and Statistics Institute (IBGE).
Despite its current concentration on specialty coffees, the plantation doesn't have its own brand. Its coffee beans, however, are on market shelves in Japan, the United States and Burma thanks to their "consistency and standardized quality," valued by importers and Brazilian clients alike.
With these beans, the plantation produces a totally different coffee with a variety of aromas - olive, vanilla, chocolate, caramel, orange, raspberry - thanks to the special treatment of the coffee before and after harvest, which gives it better quality that consequently sells for a higher price.
This week the Brazilian Specialty Coffees Association and the Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investments signed a contract to promote and expand the specialty coffees market.
According to the association, production of such coffee beans has increased in recent years from 5.2 million sacks of 60 kilos (132 lbs.) each in 2015 to 8.5 million sacks in 2017.