Happy National Coffee Day Brazil!
By Augusto Carneiro, Nossa Familia Founder & Chief Friendship Officer
Photo: Augusto in Brazil at Fazenda Recreio, the first coffee farm in the family established in the early 1890's
On May 24th I join my fellow country folk to celebrate coffee – this fruit, these beans, this drink and this passion that means so much to me and my family, to the country of Brazil, and to the world.
Coffee in Brazil literally started with a seduction story. In 1727 Portuguese Lt. Col Francisco del Melo Palheta wanted to be the first to plant coffee in Brazil. And when the neighboring Guianese Governor refused to share seeds with him, Mr.Palheta allegedly seduced the Governor’s wife, and with her help smuggled seeds for the first Brazilian crop.
By the 1820’s Brazil was producing 30% of the world's coffee and hit a peak of 80% in the early 1900’s after disease destroyed much of the production in Asia. Brazil has remained the world's largest producer since then, growing close to 8 ‘BRAZILLION*’ lbs of coffee per year, which is about 30% of the world's production.
Photo: Fazenda Recreio - located in southeastern Brazil in ‘Vale da Grama,’ a lush valley ideal for growing coffee.
My family too was seduced by coffee, but only much later in the 1890’s, when my great grandfather and his 3 brothers planted our first crop (circa 1892). It’s with a lot of pride that we celebrate 5 generations and nearly 130 years of coffee in our family!
Photo: Augusto's Great Grandfather and brothers taken in the early 1890's at Fazenda Recreio
For over 100 years we were ‘just’ that - coffee farmers. It was only in the late 90’s that a few of my family members started looking into doing more with our own coffee. Rather than selling it all as an agricultural commodity, we stopped and asked one another “shouldn’t we roast it ourselves?” The roastery and export company my family members built in Brazil inspired and helped me start Nossa Familia Coffee here in Portland, in 2004.
Photos: (top) Augusto sitting on top of the first coffee shipment he received in Portland, (left) Augusto with some of the family members who inspired him to start his company, (bottom right) Augusto with his cousin Diogo who now runs all aspects of the coffee harvesting and production at Fazenda Recreio
That’s when I flew back to PDX with a full 70 lb box of coffee as part of my luggage. (Curious fact…up until a few years ago all flights out of Brazil and Japan allowed 70 lbs per suitcase, while the rest of the world allowed only 50 Lbs. Funny thing to have in common with our Japanese Brothers and Sisters!) But I digress…
As you may have gathered, coffee has meant a lot to my family, and to the entire Brazilian economy, with over 290,000 registered coffee growers at last count.
So today, in honor of my country's national coffee day, I hope you will join me in raising a special cup - or mug - to this rich and seductive drink that is Brazilian coffee! And if you are curious to drink coffee just like most Brazilians consume it, come by one of our shops for a cafezinho**!
**Cafezinho (~cah - feh - zeen - ñoh), A strong brew, often with sugar added.