José Sebastião Mota Fernandes (aka Tião Pete) has been in coffee since he was very young. In 1968, his father bought the family’s first piece of land when Tião Pete was 10 years old. He grew up watching his dad work on the farm, and at age 16, was asked to start working on the crops. When his two brothers reached the same age, they were asked to do the same.
As the farm became successful the family patriarch decided to increase the production area. He bought several neighbors’ properties and quickly realized the work his sons did was indispensable. To reward them for their work the patriarch allowed his sons to become managers of small areas of the farm. They were responsible for their own crops and the profits of their area. At age 17, Tião Pete planted his first crops.
Now decades later Tião Pete has his own farm. In 2015, when the family patriarch passed away, the three brothers decided to split the area they inherited into three small farms. Tião Pete named his farm Fazenda Contendas. He has a total area of 100 hectares with 50 hectares dedicated to coffee. Other crops include bananas, corn and dairy livestock.
Before 2010, Tião Pete had never heard of specialty coffee. Once he learned about it he started investing timidly in the quality of his crops. “I’ve been working on coffee business since my childhood and I know that coffee is both my present and my future. So, if I want to make my crops provide me a good and sustainable life, I need to focus on their quality. And I’ll do it by investing in machinery and work models which will allow me to access consistently the best results as possible.”
Tião Pete recently bought a new wet mill and a drying machine. Now he can produce coffees that score 85+ points. He is also trying the zero-harvest method on his coffee. Half of his crops were pruned last year and the other half will be pruned after the 2016/17 harvest. Tião Pete plans to invest next in a depulping station.
The Mantiqueira microregion is home to over 2000 smallholder coffee farmers with a quality potential that urges to be explored. Our exporting partners at CarmoCoffees recognized this potential and decided to build two strategically placed mills (called "beneficios") with washing and processing capabilities, strategically selected for their accessibility to the region's coffee growers. Beneficio Pedra Branca is nestled in the Pedra Branca mountainside in Pedralva City, and the other, Beneficio Presente do Sol, is located in the city of Heliodora — both beneficios were farms managed by their former owners before joining CarmoCoffees.
Pedra Branca was the first of the beneficios, with CarmoCoffees partnership starting in 2012. Carmo bought the farm in 2013 making it part of their official structure. Following the same model, Present do Sol became part of CarmoCoffees in 2014.
The proximity of the beneficios enable the region's quality potential with accessibility to modern equipment for processing where there was otherwise a barrier to entry due to lack of knowledge, time, budget, infrastructure, and the price of labor involved with processing at a quality standard.
Beneficio Presente do Sol has nine mechanical dryers and covered patios. Beneficio Pedra Branca has eight mechanical dryers, covered patios, and three African drying beds. The production of both beneficios is at 50,000 bags annually.
For more information about coffee production in Brazil, visit our Brazil origin page.