Southland Merchants explains the company ethos of supporting an economically viable supply chain through transparency with specialty coffee growers.
From the moment Nadia Moreira and Andre Selga became involved in the coffee market, they noticed the inequality between growers and all parties past the farmers.
This was one of the reasons they formed Southland Merchants in 2017, with the goal of not only sharing the great coffee of their native Brazil with the Australian community, but supporting and empowering families and producers back home.
“Traceability has become important to many coffee roasters, sharing the stories of their coffee and how it travelled from farm to cup, but rarely are small-scale coffee producers provided with the same view of the supply chain,” Andre says.
“We want to work with not just good quality and specialty coffee, we also want to work with farmers who build on the pillars of sustainability.”
Nadia says Southland Merchants has a responsibility to its farmers and customers to connect them and start meaningful conversations about what sustainability in the coffee industry looks like.
“There’s a misconception that sustainable practices often mean lower levels of production or lower quality coffee. But that’s not the case at all. These practices – especially those used by partners such as Fazenda Três Meninas farm – have actually had increased production and even more rich tasting coffee,” she says.
Located in the Cerrado Mineiro region of Brazil, Owners of Fazenda Três Meninas Marcelo Urtado and Paula Curiacos have implemented regenerative agricultural methods to enable higher quality coffee and production levels, while also creating a farm they can be proud of.
“Sustainability is inherent to our values and present in every corner of the farm. We also focus on preventive management with professional technical monitoring, green and biological fertilisation, use of organic fertilisers, yeasts, bacteria, fungi, and insects,” Marcelo says.
In avoiding monocultures and the abuse of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, Fazenda Três Meninas has built balanced, resilient production that also contributes to the health of the planet and increases cup quality. To this end, they have invested in raised African beds and other postproduction infrastructure.
Additionally, they are engaged in fermentation studies to differentiate microlots, meeting market demand for quality and unique flavour profiles.
“Fazenda Três Meninas is a family business, and our mission is to have nature as our partner in every decision that is made. Building a balanced, resilient, and fair production environment results in lower production and maintenance costs as a systematically healthier crop is less vulnerable to pests and diseases, in addition to contributing to the improvement of the planet through significant carbon sequestration,” Paula says.
“We strongly believe that a nature- balanced production farm tends to be a transforming agent in the region, improving the livelihood of rural producers and employees, beyond transforming the landscape of the region.”
It’s this transformative approach that Southland Merchants lives by, embracing the philosophy of improving the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.
“We engage with farmers in a meaningful way, supporting them financially through educational programs such as the Educare Coffee project. Through Educare Coffee, we’re making it possible for producers to access technical, science- based knowledge so they can do things in a different way and see their farmers progress,” Andre says.
“Fulfilling that lack of education at farm level, from soil nutrition up to farm management, also teaches producers how to treat the farm as a business and be profitable.”
While Brazil is known as the largest coffee producer in the world, it’s also the green bean importer’s mission that the country be recognised as a specialty coffee growing region.
“The misconception that Brazil provides high volume low-grade coffee is slowly changing. People are more open to featuring Brazil as a single origin coffee and using them as competition coffees,” Andre says.
“Our capabilities of sourcing coffee from our country of origin allow us to embrace the diversity and potential Brazil has to offer.”
Andre says that, combined with the want to make a difference and contribute to improving local growers’ lives, makes it easy to come to work every day.
“The open relationship and legitimate interest to see growers thrive and to focus on all parties involved have made the journey really rewarding. Seeing the positive results for the growers through to the end consumer, the hard work and the many challenges are all worth the effort,” he says.
For more information, visit www.southlandmerchants.com.au and follow @southlandmerchants on Instagram.
This article appears in the June 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.