Gabriela FLORES | 2022-05-05
Lado a Lado (side by side) it’s an educational project directed to smallholders of Espirito Santo in Brazil, it started from the need to be closer to the producers, to be more transparent about the total coffee quality, and to produce sustainable coffees, environmentally and socially.
There is a well-equipped van that works as a mobile lab, traveling to eight micro regions, where coffees are tasted side by side with producers. More than teaching them to cup, the goal here is to taste their coffees and understand how the flavors and the quality were achieved, what are they doing right and see opportunities of improvement. It is also the way of collecting samples from all these producers during harvest season.
During my visit to our partners of FAF had the opportunity not to see this project on the go but to be part of it. I had the opportunity to work side by side with committed producers and with the amazing, young, motivating team of Lado a Lado: Rafael, Dirceu, Steven and Bruna (also Q graders).
We would drive to a different community every day and park the van at a centrally located producer or location. We received samples during the morning, could be up to 25-30 different producers per day. We would hull, screen, sort, analyze, and roast the samples. Cupping will happen during the afternoon when producers and their sons would join, giving immediate feedback to them. Visits would also include assessing on processing (wet mill and drying), making sure environment and people living in communities are not affected. On that week we tasted +300 samples.
Workshops about farming, processing, water, and building a healthy living ecosystem are organized. Over the past year producers have improve quality and change to sustainable alternatives, most of them have organic farms and gardens where they harvest food for their homes.
To think that 20 years ago Espirito Santo was known as the area that produced the worst quality in coffee due to the very humid and changing climate and the no conventional mountain lands; it was impossible to do naturals here!