nut, brown sugar, honey, burnt sugar
About The Farm
Fazenda California is located in the Brazilian subtropical region called Norte Pioneiro de Panama, an area known for its fertile volcanic soil, steady rainfall, and flat topography. The region’s moderate temperatures (66 to 71°F), altitude (500 to 900 m) and latitude (23 to 24°S) result in slower maturation rates and longer durations of time between flowerings.
In the early 20th century, the land that is now Fazenda California served as the center of a coffee study for the University of California, Davis. In 2004, the Saldanha Rodrigues family acquired the farm. Dr. Paulo Cesar Saldanha Rodrigues served as president, catalyzing a new wave of improvements on the farm. However, due to Dr. Paulo’s untimely death in 2004 in a plane crash, his nephew Luiz Roberto S. Rodrigues became president, continuing the work that his uncle started. Luiz updated production processes, harvesting methods, and equipment. He also implemented a management system to support sustainable production. Fazenda California today continues to uphold Dr. Paulo’s legacy, exhibiting a strong commitment to the future of sustainability. The farm’s mission statement: “producing high quality food for the consumer, society, and the environment” illustrates this commitment.
The Path Of The Bean
Fazenda Californa stretches across 240 hectares of coffee plants, all certified Rainforest Alliance and UTZ. The farm’s partner IAC (Agronomic Institute of Campinas) supplies the farm with high quality coffee Arabica seeds. The harvest season begins in April or May and closes in August or September.
Today, the farm uses both mechanized and manual harvesting methods. Fazenda California practices selective harvesting, which involves two or three rounds of harvesting for each varietal, picking the ripest cherries from the tree. This harvesting technique differs from usual harvesting techniques found in Brazil, where entire harvests are completed in one round in order to minimize high labor costs.
Fazenda California grows three varietals of coffee: Mundo Novo, Catuai, and Obata. Workers separate and classify the cherries three times to remove overripe and immature cherries. Post-harvest, the coffee undergoes immediate processing, which includes the various stages of wet milling, drying, storage, and dry milling. All processes are accompanied by specialized teams.
To uphold high standards, the farm’s quality control team is extremely rigorous and three cuppers cup each batch of harvested coffee. To maximize quality, Luiz has also worked closely with Professor Flavio, a Brazilian coffee scientist, to research coffee cultivation, harvesting, and processing technique.
Luiz’s dedication to the economic reemergence of his region does not stop at his own farm. Under his leadership, smallholder coffee producers throughout the region are uniting under a program called “100% Quality.” The group shares a common mission of improving Paraná’s quality coffee exports. Luiz knows that to achieve this, the coffee culture in Paraná must shift, and new concepts of coffee cultivation and processing need to be introduced. That is why the 100% Quality program, with funding from the regional government, employs three full-time agronomists, who travel to the participating farms sharing knowledge and best practices. The program also unites farms to make joint investments in harvesting and processing equipment. Moreover, 320 hectares of Fazenda California are dedicated to the preservation of local forests.
Fazenda California ensures that its employees and their families have access to education, medical support, housing, and transportation. A partnership with the Municipality of Jacarezinho has enabled the farm to provide evening literacy classes to employees, and since 2007, the farm has invested in extra school classes for the children of farm workers. The children receive tutoring sessions, religion and music classes, as well as education on the environment and the importance of sustainability.