WS Brazil Yuki Minami
Brazil is to other coffee-growing countries as Jupiter is to other planets – huge, and deserving a category of its own. But despite its size, we don’t look to Brazil as a source of specialty. This, however, is an old view from an older generation. We now have a younger crop of farmers entering the specialty scene – this generation was raised with the Internet, knows 21st-century coffee, and are excited to find out what’s possible for their family’s farm.
This is the story of Yuki Minami, who returned to her parent’s farm to take up specialty. Long a specialty supplier in the region, Fazenda Santo Antonio has since invested in the field, in raised beds and in training as part of Yuki’s so-far successful experiment of increasing quality to get better prices. Around the time Yuki returned take up coffee they purchased a second farm, Olhos D’Aqua, which is right down the road. In 2016 Yuki banded together with other farmers in her community – a group of third generation Brazilians of Japanese descent – to form Aequitas Coffee – with their first export being to Crop to Cup in 2018.
If it were not for Yuki we would not be able to work in Brazil like we do. She has the fire, her heart is in it for the right reasons, and she’s sharp as can be. Her coffee is almost as impressive, maybe more so because it has so much potential. We are excited to support Yuki Minami and her neighbors, Edson Tamekuni and Michael Tomizawa, as they launch Aequitas – a company that’s set out to do coffee differently.
But it’s a struggle to convince parents that this new approach is not just youthful fantasy – with one approach working so well for so long, it’s hard to take specialty seriously. This battle seems to be happening inside households across Brazil, as city-dwelling, college-educated sons and daughters return to the family farm to help their baby-boomer parents prepare for retirement.
Wherever we look we see small successes building a case for specialty, one win at a time. It could be glowing feedback, a good yield, a high price or even just the smallest recognition by someone outside the family. And the case is growing especially strong in the area around Sao Gortado where we find Yuki Minami and Aequitas coffee educating farmers on what they have and what it’s worth. Here we find farmers in their 20s and 30s standing on the shoulders of giants; they are looking near into the future, and see specialty where we in USA have not yet.