Pedro Gabarra Teixeira is a sixth-generation Brazilian coffee farmer committed to protecting the natural habitats around his farms and educating the community on the importance of preservation.
Despite Pedro Gabarra Teixeira’s family having more than 150 years of coffee farming behind them, his first taste of the coffee industry came further down the supply chain.
“I am a sixth-generation coffee farmer, but I wasn’t actually raised on the farms. My relationship with coffee actually started in 2001, when I was at university and started to roast,” Pedro tells BeanScene.
“The idea behind the roaster was to give Brazil the best coffees of Brazil, not necessarily exporting everything good. That’s how I got into coffee.”
After several years working as a roaster and graduating in 2004, Pedro’s father Joao Newton Teixeira encouraged him to join the family business.
“I started in administration, then spent one or two years learning about the industry and entered the more commercial area. In 2012, I became fully involved in the production aspect of the farm,” Pedro says.
“Now, my father and I divide the family business. Sharing the work means we can help each other as we need it, and I can spend more time with my kids.”
Pedro owns four farms – Pinhal, Santo Antonio, Vertentes, and Mirante – in the micro-region Campos das Vertentes on the border of Southern Minas Gerais. Altogether the farms cover 1286 hectares, but just 457 hectares are dedicated to coffee production.
Pedro describes Campos das Vertentes as a dense area, with a climate different to the rest of Minas Gerais.
“The farms are from 930 to 1160 metres above sea level. It’s a mountainous area where we grow coffee in flat spaces atop the mountains,” Pedro says.
“We’ve put an emphasis on quality since 1997, beginning with my father. We try to improve our coffee every single year. We are always open to new things, whether that is produce, processing, or ideas.”
In 2018, Pedro produced 13 varieties of coffee across the four farms. His personal favourite is a natural process Yellow Topaz, with a complex and elegant body, and a well-balanced finish. Pedro says the coffee contains flavour notes of roasted nuts on a dark chocolate base, with apricot and hints of stone fruit acidity.
“This year we are conducting intensive observations, and put four new varieties of high-quality coffees to the test,” Pedro says. “We are always trying new varieties and processes to be ahead of the market.”
Recently, falling coffee prices have also placed pressure on the future of the Brazilian coffee farming industry. In September 2018, the coffee price on the New York Stock Exchange fell below US 100 cents per pound for the first time in 12 years.
“[The coffee price] has been affecting us a lot. I believe the whole chain needs to be sustainable for growers. It’s very important for the market to understand there is some limits on price,” Pedro says. “We need to find new ways of approaching the market that respects both ends.
“Fortunately, we have partners like Marcelo [Brussi of Minas Hill Coffee] who help us so we can still get a fair price.”
Specialty coffee importer Minas Hill is the Australian distributor of Pedro’s coffees, a relationship that began in 2013.
“We met in Brazil at a [coffee trade] show similar to the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) and since then, the partnership has grown,” Pedro says. “When I met Marcelo, he was looking for farmers who could provide him a single-origin coffee, rather than just selling him coffees from a cooperative. You never know what’s inside the bags. It’s hard to track a co-op’s coffees down.
“He’s an excellent partner to have. In fact, he’s more than just a partner, Marcelo is a part of the farm. He shares a lot of the feelings, ideas, and principles that we have about coffee, and in our family. Doing business with him is simple, honest, and always smooth.”
Marcelo visits the farm every year, bringing Australian roasters and developing new coffees with Pedro to offer the Australian market.
“From Santo Antonio farm, we offer a full-bodied Natural Yellow Catucai in patio, with a bold dark-chocolate flavour and hints of stone fruits. It’s a coffee that normally scores above 85 points” Pedro says. “We also have one coffee from Pinhal farm, a Yellow Topaz. This coffee presents a milk-chocolate base with lots of dry fruits such as apricots and plums.
“Finally, we produce Natural and Pulped-Natural coffees at Vertentes farm. Both coffees are very solid, and excellent blenders due to a static dryer we recently acquired. These two coffees are a great option for roasters seeking consistency.”
Marcelo brought Pedro, along with Minas Hill’s other farming partners from Brazil, to Australia for MICE2019. Something Pedro hoped to communicate on his visit is how hard it is to get good coffee.
“There is lot of work and variables that we don’t have control over. We need rain, then we need it to stop. You are praying for the right stuff to happen at the right time,” Pedro says.
“My father has a friend who jokes we are never satisfied. ‘One day you are praying for rain, the next day you are praying for it to stop.’ Farming coffee is like a big industry with no roof.”
With Minas Hill’s presence in Australia, Pedro says the coffee trader is able to act as an advocate for the quality of Brazilian coffee, as well as farmers.
“There is a lot of great coffee coming out of Brazil but not everyone has access yet to this market,” Pedro says.
“I think mainly there’s a lack of information. On the grower’s side, a lot of people don’t want to open their minds to new ideas, or innovate and try new things in their farms.”
On the consumption side, Pedro says Brazil still has a lot of work to do to improve its reputation for quality and Minas Hill is committed to helping achieve this goal.
“A lot of people see the quality of coffee Brazil has, are working hard, and getting very good results,” he says.
“We have a lot of good coffee in Brazil and a lot of different processes, varieties, and flavours that we can share with the Australian coffee scene.”
This article appears in FULL in the April 2019 edition of BeanScene Magazine. Subscribe HERE.
For more information, visit www.minashill.com.au