Brazil Ipanema Fazenda Rio Verde Premier Cru B23 Banana
Banana, toffee, red apple peel.
The Ipanema estates have been innovating in Brazilian coffee for many years now, and they've become well known for consistent quality. The producers visited the UK earlier this year to share their latest project, and we were lucky enough that they came to visit us at the roastery.
This farm is a little larger and more organised than those of some of the other producers we buy from, but the Ipanema producers are no less passionate, and they wanted to share their new project – Premier Cru – with us.
Fazenda Rio Verde was founded in 1887 and is the oldest of Ipanema Coffee's farms. Located in the heart of the Mantiqueira de Minas mountains, this 1,500 hectare farm is a true natural sanctuary. The coffee is grown at elevations of up to 1,300 metres above sea level, and is surrounded by virgin forests, waterfalls, springs, and hiking trails.
Its clay soil is rich in decomposed minerals, and it's full of nutrients due to its rich flora, fauna, and water springs. High elevations combined with mountainous topography create its own microclimate with mild temperatures and an average rainfall of 1,600 mm a year. It's ideal for growing high quality coffee, but is a challenge for the normal Brazilian production methods.
Fun fact from the history of the farm: 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 farm is surrounded by 900 hectares that have forests, environmental protection areas, and 51 springs. The coffee fields are spread over more than 650 hectares. Among its 69 terroirs of Fazenda Rio Verde, Ipanema Coffees chose the best 32 to be part of the Premier Cru project. Coffees from each of those 32 sections of the farm (Glebes) were harvested and processed on their own as unique lots.
The lots are described by a code letter (e.g. C27, B68, C26, etc). This code identifies which of the 32 Glebes the coffee came from, with the letter referring to the varietal – C is Yellow Catuai, B is Bourbon. They then took a really unusual step: they had a tasting panel go through all the lots and pick one standout flavour for each one.
In this case, it was banana. It's a flavour we don’t see in coffee very often and which really hooked our attention. We hadn’t been able to taste it when they visited, but we were so intrigued that they agreed to send us a sample. As with all our purchases, we tasted it on a blind table and with some other lots (Brazilian ones in this case); that was where it really shone – have a look at our score!
All coffees from the Premier Cru project are packed in cutting edge nitrogen-flushed vacuum-packed 20 KG cartons. The method of nitrogen flushing stabilises the product by removing all traces of oxygen. Taking such care with green coffee 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.
This B23 lot was described by the farm in the following way:
"[...] this natural Yellow Bourbon has a distinguished and unique set of characteristics: moderate acidity associated with pleasant sweetness and a velvety body. Its cup presents pronounced notes of banana with a remarkable and longstanding aftertaste."
Translated into Has Bean that sounds like ...
In the cup this tastes like a beautiful ripe banana. The body is thick and chewy, and you get a little shoulder of toffee on the end, which is a great companion to the banana. I get a gentle red apple peel on the aftertaste. A super unusual and delicious lot.
- Country: Brazil
- State: Minas Gerais
- Region: Mantiqueira mountains
- Municipality: Alfenas
- Farm: Fazenda Rio Verde
- Glebe: B23
- Glebe size: 18.28 hectares
- Altitude: 1,157–1,300 m.a.s.l.
- Varietal: Yellow Bourbon
- Blossoming date: August 31st, 2017
- Harvesting date: June 4th, 2018
- Harvesting method: Selective hand picking
- Processing method: Natural
- Pre-drying process: Conventional patio for 164 hours
- Drying process: Vertical dryers for 100 hours
- Storage: Nitrogen modified atmosphere
- Screen size: #15UP
Banana, toffee, red apple peel.
Clean cup: (1–8): 6
Sweetness: (1–8): 7
Acidity: (1–8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 8
Flavour: (1–8): 8
Aftertaste: (1–8): 7
Balance: (1–8): 7
Overall: (1–8): 7
Correction (+36): +36
Total (max. 100): 92
Medium – slow it down a little to develop it, but drop just as you're coming up to second crack. These beans can be a bit misleading in appearance – they look quite light – so focus on the sound and smell to find the right point just as you approach second.