Founded in 1887, the farm itself is one of Ipanema Coffee's oldest farms. Fun fact from its history: between 1964 and 1992, the owners invested heavily in the production of chicken manure, applying it in the coffee areas to increase soil fertility. The farm had 81 sheds where 136,000 hens lived and produced 800,000 kilos of manure annually – volume large enough to fertilise half of the coffee plantation every year! 🐔
The coffee is grown at elevations of up to 1300 metres above sea level (m.a.s.l.) in the heart of the Mantiqueira de Minas mountains. It's surrounded by 900 hectares containing environmentally protected virgin forests, waterfalls, hiking trails, and 51 springs, all of which makes it a true sanctuary for nature. High elevations combined with mountainous topography create a unique microclimate with mild temperatures and an average rainfall of 1600 mm a year. This, plus the clay soil rich in minerals and nutrients, is ideal for growing high-quality coffee, but it's a challenge for the normal Brazilian production methods.
Fazenda Rio Verde is sectioned into 69 terroirs, the best 32 of which were selected to be part of the project. The coffee from each of these areas (referred to as glebes) was harvested and processed as unique lots which are identified by a code (e.g. C26). The letter refers to the coffee variety (e.g. B for Bourbon, C for Catuai, etc) and the number refers to one of the 32 glebes.
Once the lots were processed, the owners took a really unusual step: a panel of tasters went through and cupped the lots, picking a single standout flavour descriptor for each.
To protect the quality of the green coffee, the producers made the decision to pack the lots in cutting-edge nitrogen-flushed vacuum-packed 20 KG cartons. This removes all traces of oxygen from the containers (coffee and oxygen are not friends!) and stabilises the product to ensure the roastery is receiving it in as pristine condition as possible. This level of care is practically unheard of, even in specialty. The method speaks to the exceptional quality of these lots, which push the boundaries of what specialty coffee in Brazil can offer.