In 1764, the Portuguese monarchy gave a 3,500-hectare parcel to the earliest ancestor of its agricultural director, J. Paiva, with instructions to raise cattle and sugar cane. Christened Fazenda da Lagoa, it added coffee plants in 1860 and is today one of Brazil’s oldest coffee estates.
For more than two centuries, the farm remained in the Paiva family. In 2003, it was purchased by InterAmerican parent company Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) and put under the care of Tropical Farm Management—an NKG organization that works with coffee growers to help them achieve environmentally, socially and economically sustainable operations. While encouraging the farm’s health was a priority, so was ensuring that its original spirit continues to thrive, and so Joaquím Paiva, a direct descendant of the original owner, remains of the farm’s two general managers.
RFA, Utz Certified and Entwined with Family Trees
Lush forests, shaded coffee trees and animated swampland intermingle on the property—20 percent of the land is designated reserve, but native vegetation covers approximately 35 percent of the property—forming a rich and diverse ecosystem. Over time, modern industrial conveniences have been combined with generations-old farming traditions to create a system that’s simultaneously innovative and ecologically sound.
“I have witnessed the change from a rather traditionally managed Brazilian farm to a modern one,” said Regina Monteserrat, Fazenda da Lagoa’s sustainability manager since October 2004. The farm gained UTZ certification in 2005 and Rainforest Alliance in 2008. “I know how much work this meant for everybody involved,” she added.
Regina also highlights the familial dynamic on the farm, saying that, despite the highly mechanized nature of much of the farm, “we still have many employees who know the farm by heart, as they have been born here and worked here all their lives and can tell many stories about its history.”
Rejane Aparecida Faleiro Magalhães, a cleaning assistant, has always lived on the farm; her parents met there, as did she and her husband when he came to live with his brother-in-law. “The road of my life is on the farm,” she says.
Ronaldo Diniz, a nurseryman who grows and plant seedlings and trees and whose hard work has brought coffee and fruit trees, many of them native to the area, to every corner of the property, has also lived on the farm all his life. He and his 10 siblings were born there, as were their parents. “The farm reminds me of my family and all my dear friends who are already gone,” he says.
José Ananias Rodrigues, a mechanic and workman on the property, emphasizes the strength of community and family on the farm. He explains, “The farm differs from other farms by the union and good coexistence among the people.”
He also notes that the farm has beautiful waterfalls and green areas. “Some species of birds that were almost extinct,” says José, “are coming back here.”
Forca Café Championship and Auction
The team’s efforts on the ground are complemented by its relationships with NKG sister companies. InterAmerican and Fazenda da Lagoa have worked together for 14 years, exchanging frank feedback around quality control and sales perspectives that has benefited both parties.
Our favorite example of this collaboration is the annual Força Café Championship. In October, Head of Providence Trading Gerra Harrigan traveled to Fazenda da Lagoa to help judge the Fifth Annual Força Café Championship, which celebrates Brazil’s smallholder farmers—an under-appreciated group in a country best known for its immense coffee estates.
“We arrived on Sunday and were welcomed by the gracious staff that keeps Fazenda da Lagoa in impeccable working order … and then we cupped and cupped and cupped,” said Gerra.
“The quality of the coffees varied greatly,” she continued, “but I was very impressed by some of the scores, and there were clear standouts that truly changed my opinion of Brazil cup profiles. There were quite a few that had melon, papaya and berry notes, with a lactic, nectar-like body.”
By Friday, an international team of judges—including colleagues from Stockler, our sister export company in Brazil, and the non-profit coffee foundation Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung do Brasil—were challenged to determine the top 12 Natural and top 12 Semi-Washed coffees that would be awarded entrance into a global auction that will take place mid-December.
“We wrapped up just in time to greet the 100+ producers and their families who came to Fazenda da Lagoa to celebrate the conclusion of their hard work,” Gerra wrote in a trip report she shared with the team. “Awards were given out, the jury had time to go over cupping notes and impressions with the producers, and lots of meat was consumed!”
"Two of the winners were a married couple, Elieser Carmelito da Silva and Rosangela Moura Alves. We bought Rosangela’s coffee last year, and it was received very well by East Coast roasters. One of them, New Harvest, gave me a bag of roasted coffee and I delivered it to Rosangela that night. Both she and her husband expressed their gratitude to HRNS and Stockler for being so committed to the Força Café auction. With last year’s premiums they started building a cupping room, and Rosangela took a grading and cupping class through HRNS.
"Rosangela and Elieser were both very interested in hearing our feedback to better align themselves with the preferences of the American and European markets. What stood out for me with both their coffees was how dynamic they were for Natural Brazils. Roseangela’s lot had strong notes of peach and apricot, with a citric acidity and lactic body. Elieser’s had dominate notes of melon and nectarine, with also a lactic body and an almost sparkling acidity.
"Regardless of how we fare in the auction, continuing the relationship with the Carmelitos would be a boon for InterAmerican. The quality of their coffees, the cleanliness and dynamic cup profiles and their commitment to pushing their coffees and themselves into the specialty market is a win-win opportunity. And an inspiration. It’s really the strength of NKG, the passion of HRNS and the vision of the Stockler team that brings these coffees to us."
In addition to auctioning the top-rated coffees to the highest bidder, all coffees from the contest are available for sale.
If you’d like to learn more about these coffees—or bid in the auction on a winning lot—please contact email@example.com. We’ll also be hosting limited-space cuppings of select lots ahead of the auction, in New York City Dec. 4 and Providence Dec. 7. Please get in touch if you’d like to join us! •