Fazenda São Judas Tadeu is just one of several farms owned by Senhor Antônio Rigno and his wife Terezinha. Antônio has been producing coffee for more than 25 years, and the Rigno family are known and respected in the Piatã region of Brazil. As well as managing other coffee farms, the couple have a café in town and regularly host events for other producers in the area.
The Fazenda itself is 35 hectares in size, but only 15 are planted out with coffee. Catuaí is the main variety grown, but Antônio is doing some experiments with newly planted bourbons to test out the yield and cup quality. If they perform well in the field and on the cupping table then there is scope to plant more to produce sizeable lots for export.
A lot of care and attention is given at the agronomy level, taking care of the soil and the coffee trees themselves, which is absolutely fundamental to producing a quality cup of coffee. Unlike a lot of the rest of Brazil which is being planted with monocultures and relying heavily on chemical inputs and irrigation systems, at Fazenda SJT they are nurturing their seedlings from when they are first planted by minimal use of chemical pesticides, recycling coffee pulp as fertiliser and having lots of shade trees planted around the farm. The remaining 20 hectares not cultivating coffee are dedicated to preserving natural forest, and every year they extend it by planting more trees. A drive to work more closely with their neighbours to institute improved agricultural practices thereby develops quality and helps preserve the health of the local ecosystem.
The specific area the coffee comes from is the Chapada Diamantina (Diamond Plateau) which was a famed region for mining gemstones, but is now much more known for specialty coffee production. The region yields coffees with a very distinct character, perhaps due to the slightly higher altitudes, rich soils and vast changes in temperature during cherry maturation (it can swing from 2C to 18C throughout the day). Being in a great area for growing coffee is only the first step. Growing a variety such as Catuaí means Antônio has the potential for delicous coffees, and he carries this potential through to fruition through enforcing strict harvest protocols. The pickers do two passes of the trees each day during harvest and are only taking the ripest cherry from the trees. They do some pulped natural preparations but this lot we have purchased is a full natural, whereby the entire fruit is dried intact under shade. This takes a long time as there is much more moisture in the fruit to dry down as opposed to just the seed in a parchment layer. There is also more risk of secondary fermentation characteristics impacting the coffee, as the sugars in the fruit are prone to mould or get a little too ‘funky’ during the drying stage. Their processing for this lot, though, is meticulous, and we have found the natural processing to impart a rich, lusciousness to the coffee when compared to its pulped natural counterpart, without the off aromas that can sometimes ruin naturally processed coffees.
All the attention to detail is paying off for Antônio as he has placed in the cup of excellence multiple times, coming 2nd in 2014 and 1st in 2011 and 2015. After the farm’s first CoE win he bought all of the full time employees their own motorcycle! Producers in Brazil often find themselves having to concentrate so much on the finances and meeting the very stringent standards for their workers that such generosity to employees coupled with an intent focus on producing quality coffee is really amazing to witness. We feel lucky to be able to buy such a delicious Brazilian coffee to share with you.
Piatã, Bahia, Brazil
Soft and super sweet with subtle aromas of orange, mango and dried flowers. Milk chocolate and fudge flavours lead to notes of brandy snaps and cinnamon.