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TransFair USA is excited to announce the first ever Fair Trade Certified Cupping Competition and Auction. All ten Brazilian Fair Trade Certified Arabica producing cooperatives will be submitting samples to be judged in the competition. The goal of the event is to showcase high quality Fair Trade Certified coffee produced in Brazil and provide Fair Trade Certified licensees access to the best coffees at origin. Buyers will have the opportunity to sample, meet producers, and bid on the winning coffees through a closed auction. In addition, TransFair USA is organizing a four day excursion following the auction for those who wish to visit coffee producing cooperatives in Minas Gerais. The international jury will be grading coffees from October 20th to October 24th. We will hold a tasting, auction and awards ceremony in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais on Friday, October 24th. This event provides an opportunity to meet with producers and producer organizations, sample the award-winning coffees and place bids on your favorites.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poço Fundo Part 2

After the visit at COOPFAM's new dry mill and cupping room, we all piled into the van and set off to visit a member's farm. The journey was worthy of an Indiana Jones movie. We were told that the carpets of giant red ants we'd pass on the road were signs of coming rain (not eminent doom.) One collapsed bridge forced a long detour around to another bridge which looked like it was about to collapse. Bets were taken on how the van would fall into the river. The scenery, as it is in most coffee lands, was beautiful-tall rolling hills dotted with small farms, dense lush foliage contrasted with deep red soil, plenty of free-range grass-fed hormone-free cows, and plenty of coffee trees.

We finally arrived at the farm of Sebastião Oliveira Silva after having to shoo a few languid cows off the road. In front of his his family's home was a beautiful new drying patio funded through a rotating grant from the Responsible Sourcing Partnership. Eleven Fair Trade Certified producer groups applied for the grant and after deliberations that included coffee industry experts, five groups we given the loans to disburse among their members. The co-ops are responsible for tracking and reporting the use of the fund on a monthly basis. The co-ops will also pay back into the funds to that other members can benefit on a rotating basis.

Our group was welcomed into thier home and served delicious bolo de banana (banana bread), queijo caseiro (home-made cheese made from those lazy cow's milk), and coffee from Sebastiao's farm. Treats were made by Sebastiao's wife Vania Lucia Pereira Silva with help from their children Camila, Gabriel, and Daniel. Oscar Gonzales found the bolo de banana particularly enjoyable and sat himself down next to the plate.

While the rest of us headed off on a short hike to see Sebastiao's plants, Oscar took a short siesta digestiva on the hammock.

Sebastiao has about 12 hectares of coffee trees, all organic. Like the other flora and fauna in this part of Brazil, the plants were tall and healthy. The harvest was almost a month late this year due to rains and Sebastiao had just finished a few weeks ago. Many of the plants were already undergoing some beautiful flowering, hinting at a strong harvest next year.

We thanked Sebastiao and his family for their wonderful hospitality and headed back down he red road.

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