The Rich Heritage of the Brazilian Fazenda Helena Coffee Farm

The history of the Brazilian Fazenda Helena Farm is almost as rich as the coffee beans themselves. This family owned estate dates back to 1918, when the Ricci family immigrated to Brazil from Italy. The family quickly settled and went to work as coffee plantation farmers. Afterwards, the family founded their own family farm. However, in 1975 a frost bought on devastation to the farm’s coffee crops and lead them to find a new location.

This search lead them to the current location, Monte Carmelo, Minas Gerias. With high altitude (at 3150 feet) and a reliable climate (with predictable seasons of wet summers and mild, dry winters), the family considered the property ideal for coffee farming. Another benefit to this location is low humidity, which makes it the perfect environment for natural, dry processing. The Cerrado Minerio region is protected by the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) because of its prime growing conditions and notoriety.

The fourth generation of the Ricci family now manages the estate with the same great dedication to the fine art of this environmental stewardship. The family is also invested in other projects, such the Educampo Coffee Project, which supports more than 300 coffee producers within the region. It’s because of these protected regions and diligent family tradition that we have our variety of precious, perfectly roasted coffee beans.

Methods of Brazilian Coffee Processing

Brazil processes its coffee in several different ways, including the wet (washed method), the dry (natural) method and the semi-washed (pulped natural) method.

Fortunately, since Brazil is one of the few countries that has the ideal weather conditions, a majority of the beans are able to be processed naturally (dry). Due to Brazil’s predictable dry and wet seasons, the flowering of cherry maturation is homogeneous. This allows Brazilians to harvest coffee through the picking method or mechanically. Although under-ripe and overripe cherries are also harvested, attentive processing will easily identify and remove these coffee cherries. Brazil has the reputation of having one of the most professional processing systems in the industry.

Dry-Process: (Naturally processed) coffee beans are dried while they are still in the cherry. Prior to drying, only cherries that float will be eliminated. Since the coffees are dried in contact with the sweet mucilage, the coffee will be dense in body, sweet, smooth, and complex. These coffee beans are also one of the most complex to deal with due to the long period of drying times and possibility of fermentation. However, since dry-processed coffees are such a tedious process, Brazil has invested significant money and time to developing new drying systems and drying methods to prevent fermentation.

Wet-Process: Wet-processing coffees is a rather new method of eliminating the four layers surrounding the coffee bean. This technique results in a coffee that is cleaner, brighter, and fruitier. Wet processing is done in a comparatively smaller proportions to dry-processing in Brazil, but offers another cleaner and brighter dimension to Brazilian coffees.

Pulped Natural: The pulped natural method includes the pulping of a coffee, but omitting the fermentation stage to remove the silver skin. The result is a coffee that has characteristics of both a dry- and wet-processed coffee. It is often sweeter than wet-processed coffees, but has some of the body of a dry-processed coffee. However, it also keeps some of the acidity of a wet-processed coffee. This method of processing can only occur in countries where the humidity is low and the coffee covered in the sweet mucilage can dry out rapidly without fermenting. Brazil has made this process method famous and continues to create some of the best pulped-natural coffees in the world. In the 2000 Gourmet Cup Competition, all twenty winners processed their coffee using this natural method.