Tasting Notes: Chocolate, Caramel, Nuts
Region: Cornélio Procópio, North Paraná, Brazil
Growing Elevation: 600 MASL
Producers: Marco Cravo, Josué Morales, Fazenda Pilar
Josué Morales is the co-founder of Los Volcanes Coffee, an innovative coffee producer, processor, and lab located in Guatemala and Brazil. He has been producing specialty coffee in Guatemala since 2003 and in Brazil since 2017. We have been purchasing coffee through Los Volcanes since 2017, including Cerro de Oro, and Sierra de Las Minas from Guatemala, and Sao Luiz from Brazil. We’re excited to now introduce you to Fazenda El Pilar.
Josué began collaborating with producer Marco Cravo at Brazil’s Fazenda Pilar in 2017, after years of analyzing Brazilian harvest methods together and building a strong friendship. At that time, “quality” in Brazil was synonymous with the standardization of how coffee should be produced to obtain a homogeneous product, instead of one that was unique. While Fazenda Pilar was excelling in production efficiency and high yields, the flavor quality of the coffee beans was disappointing. Another distinction from Guatemala, where Josué was used to growing coffees at high altitudes, was that coffees in Brazil were grown at high latitudes, having light exposure and atmospheric pressure as determining factors to their taste. The entire region of North Paraná had the worst reputation for coffee in Brazil because of its inclement climate and variable growing patterns.
Thankfully, Josué had already overcome similar complications in Guatemala, so he brought his expertise to maximize Fazenda Pilar’s potential for producing exceptional specialty coffees. He and Marco invented new harvest principles with this focus, and they introduced fermentation periods to unlock the coffee’s flavor potential. In just 10 days, they transformed Pilar’s methods on a scale 180 times larger than Josue’s operation in Antigua, Guatemala. The learning curve the crew at Fazenda Pilar endured during those few days encapsulated the knowledge from everything Josué had learned in the prior fourteen years of his life.
In Josué’s words, “The size of the beast wasn’t what scared me, I was used to managing similar volumes inbound into Beneficio La Esperanza in Antigua, Guatemala, every night. What worried me was the fact that we were adding one additional process that is not part of the coffee culture in Brazil. The process of fermentation.”
“It had been nine days since I arrived at Fazenda Pilar by the time we got to try the first finished lot of coffee produced with my system. The coffee looked, felt, and tasted like no coffee we had ever tried. It was something new. I interpreted that tasting as the first time we were actually tasting the coffee of North Paraná the way it should be, expressing the natural qualities the region has to offer. That coffee went on to be recognized as the best in the region that year, and to be chosen as the official coffee for the Brazilian Roasting Competition.”
In a country where efficient speed and high yield had been the markers of quality, the idea that slowing down would produce even higher “quality” coffee was counter intuitive. However, Josué and Marco had the courage to take that risk with Fazenda Pilar, and that risk is yielding remarkable results to this day.