Stop Two: Brazil
a Film Project
by Bruce Milletto & Ken Davids
their continuing tour of the world of coffee, video producer Bruce
Milletto, writer Kenneth Davids and film crew found Brazil less colorful
than their previous stop - Guatemala - but the coffee producers equally
The five members of Bellissimo Media crew landed in Sao Paulo at
the end of June for a two-week film shoot. We were met by a driver
and a representative of the Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association,
who helped us load our gear into a new Mercedes van. We drove nine
hours inland into the night through blinding rain in search of the
fazenda do cafe (Brazilian coffee farm).
Passion Combined with Technology
In the early 1900s, Brazil boasted more than four million coffee plants
and supplied over 75 percent of the world's coffee. Today, Brazil
remains the world's largest producer of coffee and is its second largest
consumer. Over five million Brazilians depend on coffee for their
The majority of Brazilian coffee is grown in three regions: Sul de
Minas in the southern part of Minas Gerais; Mogiana; and an area called
the Cerrado, several hundred miles north of Minas Gerais. In contrast
to the small farms of Central American producers, Brazil's coffee
fazendas are huge. You might say the 'B' in Brazil stands for "big"
coffee farms. However, the consumer or coffee retailer should not
conclude that because Brazil grows coffee on such a large scale that
there is any less passion and regard for the product than in countries
where production levels are lower. This is simply not true. Brazil
is often considered a model for agricultural production. During our
10-day journey we witnessed state-of-the-art growing techniques, analysis,
and harvesting methods.
We visited several fazendas in the Minas region where coffee is grown
three to four thousand feet above sea level. The film crew was housed
in small rustic lake-front cabins at a resort called Pousado Do Porto.
Marcelo Vieira and Jose Francisco Pereira were our hosts for the portion
of our stay, and their farm, Fazenda Monte Alegre, is located near
Belo Horizonte, a region also known for its mineral springs. Their
fazenda is so large that after driving for nine hours on the property
I remarked, "In Europe, we would be in a different country by now--in
Brazil we are still on the same coffee farm!" Many farms were so vast
that in order to chronicle their significant size we needed to do
much of the filming from an airplane.
of the highlights of our stay in Minas was filming a cupping session
with two of the world's best known coffee palates, George Howell and
Silvio Leite. This segment of the film will be educational as well
as entertaining -- a blind man in the room listening to Silvio's unique
cupping technique would swear his slurping sounded like a jet plane
taking off nearby!
After driving six hours north, we arrived at one of the few organic
farms in the country, Fazenda Cachoeira. This farm is a story in and
of itself. When the owner of the farm asked his daughter, Mirian,
an only child and a sociology major at the university, if she would
take over the day-to-day operations of the 150-year-old farm, she
agreed, but with one condition: that they work toward making the farm
100 percent organic. This fazenda is unusual in many other ways. Recently,
Mirian and her husband Rogero renovated much of the worker's housing
into a quaint bed and breakfast that offers those interested in coffee
a place to relax while watching the operation of a working farm. Gourmet
farm fare is served each evening at a 20-foot-long table once reserved
for the many workers of the fazenda. Also included in a visit to the
farm is access to a stable of prize-winning pinto horses on which
guests can explore the adjoining countryside. The lovely setting of
this farm and its sense of history leave the visitor with a feeling
of warmth, concern and friendship.
Tragedy in The Cerrado
We pushed on to the high plains of the Cerrado region for our final
day of filming. Our last stop was in reality almost our final stop.
After a grueling 12-hour day, Luciano, our driver, lost control of
the our van on a curvy gravel road. The van went airborne and headed
for a small bridge, landing with only two wheels on the shaky wooden
structure. We skidded across and only a miracle saved us from plunging
into the water. Luckily, we crashed into the embankment on the other
side. We were a bit bruised and shaken, but no one was seriously injured.
As I sat in a field for hours watching horses and trucks trying to
disentangle the van, my mind began to focus on our flight to Rio the
The concluding days of our journey were spent on the beautiful and
famous Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Experiencing the city and
resort life of a beautiful coffee country was a fitting close to our
Stop two - of four - was behind us.
Bruce Milletto is the president of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup. He
can be reached at email@example.com
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