Trips to Origin: a journey into the cradles and hearts of coffee

Trips to Origin - Nucoffee
Trips to Origin - Nucoffee

Trips to Origin: a journey into the cradles and hearts of coffee

Travel to origins. With a name that seems to summarize the purpose and format of the program, "Trips to Origin" goes beyond a technical tour.

In fact, the trips allow for discussing and learning the step-by-step process of coffee production, but the maximum value of this trip is the individual experience shared among the people who live for coffee.

Designed about 10 years ago to meet the expectations and needs of an American roaster, "Trips" usually organizes two to four trips a year to foster the visit of roasters to farms and cooperatives, entitled to many delicious tasting sessions.

Held during the harvest and postharvest seasons, from June to August, extending at most to the beginning of September, the events are a great opportunity for foreign roasters to learn about the quality of the Brazilian production and hear stories never imagined behind every coffee bean.

Throughout its history, the program has already contributed to enrich more than hundreds of relationships between roasters and producers, which many times transcended the customer x supplier relationship achieving a level of familiarity and friendship.

The innovation this year is a visit to the Federal University of Lavras where our guests will have the opportunity to get to know the innovative projects presented by the project researchers themselves.

Check out the chat with Nucoffee’s Coffee Trader Renan Cardoso, explaining the details of the program "Trips to Origin".

When and how did the "Trips to Origin" program come about?

Nucoffee is in its 12th year of implementation, and the program "Trips" is being held since at least 10 years. The program was created to meet a demand from an American roaster who wanted to come to Brazil. This is how it all began.

Stimulated by his desire to see in loco what Brazilian production was like, a desire also shared by other roasters, Nucoffee began to invest in these encounters.

What are the primary objectives of the program?

The primary objective of “Trips” is to add value to the producer and show that Nucoffee is a roaster-producer connection platform that acts with transparence with no intermediaries.

Does "Trips" happen at a specific time of the year?

Yes. Usually, the event is held during the harvest or postharvest seasons, i.e. from June to late August, early September.

The time that roasters like best, and which is really the best, is at the end of the harvest when the patio is full of coffee beans, and some samples of the new crop are available and can be tasted. Others still prefer to arrive in late August when there is more coffee beans available for tasting and purchase, although the patio is almost empty. It depends on the roaster's purpose, but this is the preferred time.

How is the selection of the farms to be visited made? Must the producers sign up to receive the visits?

First of all, Nucoffee gets to know the demand and see where the roaster wants to go. Usually they buy either 100% of the coffee from the cerrado region or 100% from the south of Minas, or São Paulo. So, the first step is to understand what the customer wants. After that, our marketing area sends a representative to the region to arrange the visit, always considering the roaster's goal.

What is usually a standard trip on the program schedule?

After the meeting with the roaster in Brazil, we make all arrangements. We book him a hotel and coordinate every step of the trip.

In general, we visit the farms, cooperatives, and arrange Cupping Sessions. This year, as an unusual event, we will visit the Federal University of Lavras to get to know the innovative projects they developed in this area, which will be presented by the project researchers themselves.

The number of days varies according to the group size, but the trip always starts on Sunday and ends on Wednesday or Friday.

What is the daily schedule for these visits?

Each tour always carries surprises and emotions. The roasters learn things they never imagine about the story behind the coffee, as well as the life story of coffee farmers, who often work in the production since childhood, watching their parents and grandparents live that experience. And that's when they identify with each other realizing that they have in common this relationship of respect and love for coffee.

This information sharing already occurs at the table where producers and roasters meet to share a welcome meal offered by the coffee farmer, going through the Cupping Sessions, and knowledge sharing, until the visit to the field, where all get excited to have the opportunity to see and feel the land where this "coffee magic" happens.

Since the beginning of your interaction with Nucoffee, have you been following "Trips"? How did your experience with the event evolve?

Yes, I have been here for 5 years and since then I have followed the roasters in the field. What I have seen in all the “Trips” I followed over this period is the evolution of the farms. Especially the way the farmers welcome the roasters, the willingness to leave us spend a lot of time at the farm, showing the whole area and explaining the story behind each coffee type.

On behalf of Nucoffee we welcome these people, join the idea of Syngenta, take them to the farms, cooperatives, laboratories. The big innovation this year will be a visit to the University, where two PHD researchers will give lectures especially to us. This has never happened before. We are always searching to innovate the program.

In terms of producer x roaster relationship, how does the program enhances this relationship?

They create a relationship. For example, Mike, a roaster from Texas, has developed a friendship with a Nucoffee producer. Their relationship transcended that of client-producer to turn into a family relationship, as the producer told us. So, when you bring the roaster and he visits that producer and asks for a sample, he just won’t buy the coffee from that farm if it's not possible due to price, the required specificity or if he wants to buy fewer bags than we can deliver. But they create this relationship. They take pictures, get emotional, want to get in touch.

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Is there a roaster paradigm regarding the Brazilian coffee or farms that is broken during these visits?

This paradigm break happens a lot. Who never came to Brazil feels it, since the Brazilian coffee abroad is considered of medium-quality. However, over the years, the producers have heavily invested in pre- and postharvest, structure, and fermentation process. So, the Brazilian's coffee quality is enhancing a lot. But this enhancement in coffee’s culture in Brazil has not being divulged out there. The quality of the coffee produced in Brazil is considered of medium quality, so when they arrive here they become extremely surprised. To give you an idea, those who have coffee shops and did not sell single-origin coffee, which is 100% Brazil, start selling it as a single-origin.

They are impacted by the structure and quality of the coffee they taste here.

Concerning the roaster, can anyone participate in these ‘trips’ or is there a selection?

In general, the roasters contact our commercial team and sign up. On the other hand, our team also analyses the roaster profile and identifies who might be interested to know our producers and the planting process in different regions of the country.

Once the roaster comes to Brazil, Nucoffee makes all arrangements for the whole itinerary, enabling the schedule and bearing all the costs of the trips to the farms.

In 2019, during the harvest and postharvest season, we have two “Trips” scheduled. But usually the annual number of visits reaches three or four.

By the end of this visit period, we will begin to prepare innovations for the 2020 "Trips". All interested roasters can contact us to ensure their participation in the next year agenda. Certainly, this will be an opportunity to share many pleasant experiences.

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