Brothers Tercio and Thiago Borba were not born farmers, but they are born Brazilians who have established a deep love and respect for the Australian coffee industry.
“This is the country we launched 3Brothers. It’s where we found our passion for coffee and it’s where we want to focus our energy,” says Tercio.
For the past three-and-a-half years, 3Brothers has been quietly bringing new cultivars into Australia and working with producers who are passionate about experimenting with new processing methods to improve the quality of Brazil’s specialty coffee production.
“No-one has really heard about the work we’re doing or the unique coffees we source because once they arrive they disappear before we get a chance to announce it,” Tercio says.
3Brothers is an importer of only specialty coffee. It doesn’t do brokerage over contracts and it doesn’t work on pre-selected coffee. It does, however, invest in specialty lots and puts the time and energy into research and development of new processing methods.
3Brothers has partnered with Caparaó Junior, a non-profit junior company that’s part of the Federal Institute of Espírito Santo, to help fund a project that teaches producers about management control. It brings agronomists into the fields to conduct lab tests and issue reports on what needs to be done to improve crop production and practices.
“If we can educate the farmers to develop a consistent product, it’s not only an advantage to the region but to the coffee it produces,” Tercio says.
3Brothers doesn’t consider the foundation of its business to be defined as traders or brokers. Rather, it works directly with producers to help “migrate” their commodity trade into what it considers “better trade” coffee.
“When 3Brothers started, the perception of Brazilian coffee from most roasters and some farmers was that Brazil is not specialty, despite being the biggest coffee producer. We are changing that,” Tercio says. “We know that specialty coffee is there hiding beneath the surface. There are exciting things happening from Brazil, and we’re at the forefront of bringing them to Australia.”
After their brother Gustavo Artioli Borba sadly passed away, Tercio and Thiago started 3Brothers, with no previous connection to the coffee industry. Tercio remains the connection to Australia roasters while Quality Director Thiago is based in Brazil. He is responsible for maintaining relationships at origin, and heads up Burgeon Specialty Coffee trading, 3Brother’s sister company in the heart of Poços de Caldas, Minas Gerais.
“We are a young company, but I like to think the company has introduced a completely new business model,” Tercio says. “Our aim is to discover the most consistent coffees via a fully traceable model and be part of the team that’s changing Brazil’s specialty coffee production for the better.”
One such advancement is 3Brothers’ development of the Yellow Caparaó varietal using controlled fermentation.
“3Brothers is all about discovering new regions that can produce specialty, and Serra do Caparaó is becoming more prominent for its range of different profiles of coffee, such as mango and pineapple, flavours you wouldn’t expect to see from Brazil,” Tercio says. “We are the first in Australia to buy from this region.”
Tercio says when he first cupped the Yellow Caparaó, he thought it would be a challenge to sell in Australia. It did divide opinions on the cupping table, but it went.
3Brothers isn’t just about working with “crazy profiles” and “fermentations”. It also recognises Australia’s large market for milk-based coffee consumption and has created its own specialty blend called Caldas Royale. It steers away from the nutty notes people associate and expect with Brazilian coffees and is “super clean in the cup with clarity and light red berry notes”. Tercio says thanks to the producer’s “vertical business model”, this blend has retained its buying price for the past four years.
3Brothers was born to do something different, and the Borba brothers are excited to take the next step forward.
“We’re niche, we’re competative, and we strive to achieve consistency,” Tercio says. “There’s a story behind every coffee we source.”
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