The Passionate Harvest Stop Two: Brazil
a Film Project by Bruce Milletto & Ken Davids

On 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 as impassioned.

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 survival.

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.

The Minas
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.

One 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!

Brazil Organic
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 following afternoon.

Rio!
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 trip.

Stop two - of four - was behind us.

Bruce Milletto is the president of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup. He can be reached at ciao2000@teleport.com .



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