The cool, green hills of Sul de Minas provide ideal conditions for coffee growing and produce some of Brazil’s finest specialty lots. The region is known locally as ‘Vertentes’ and forms a border between two very important river basins in Brazil: the Grande River Basin (which runs to the south) and the São Francisco River Basin (which runs to the northeast).
Henrique Dias Cambraia, owner and manager of Fazenda Samambaia, attributes the success of his farm to a combination of various factors: the farm’s location at 1,200m above sea level; a steady cool climate averaging 21 degrees centigrade; competent technical management of the plantations, with individualized phytosanitary controls of the planting fields; constant training based on total quality control programs; and – most importantly – the involvement of the whole team that works on the farm.
The farm produces several single varietal coffees, including this 100% Mondo Novo, a natural hybrid of Bourbon and Typica that was discovered in Brazil in the 1940s. The single varietal lots are carefully demarcated and processed separately in order to ensure traceability.
Much of Samambaia is too hilly for machines to access the plantations, so around one third of the farm’s crop is picked by hand. Cherries are only harvested when they are fully ripe. They are then processed at the farm’s wet mill. Pulped natural lots such as this one are pulped and then, rather than being soaked and washed, are immediately transferred to the patios for drying with the bean’s sticky outer mucilage still attached.
Henrique is committed not only to producing high quality coffee, but to farming in a way that is socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. He is happy to say that, during his absence from the farm between March 2000 and July 2001 – when he was studying towards a Master's degree in International Business in Phoenix, Arizona – his employees demonstrated that they fully understood and were capable of upholding the Samambaia concept of sustainability.
The farms of the Dias Cambraia family have been receiving technical assistance from Agronomist Dr. Josué Pereira de Figueiredo for over ten years. Dr. Figueiredo was the technical coordinator of the Brazilian Coffee Institute (IBC) for several years and has also been a Cup of Excellence judge. Henrique also regularly attends events organised by the Association of the Coffee Producers of Southern Minas Gerais (Sulminas-Café) and other similar bodies, to ensure that the Dias Cambraia farms remain at the forefront of new technologies and techniques.
Recently, Henrique Dias Cambraia was elected President of Sulminas-Café. Together with other 20 coffee producers of the Santo Antônio do Amparo region, he founded the Santo Antônio Estate Coffee, to build relationships with the specialty coffee market.
Fazenda Samambaia has won many awards for its coffee, including 13th place in the 2001 Cup of Excellence.