The SAGA begins

The South American Growers’ Association (SAGA) is on a mission to make high-grade, affordable coffee from Brazil and Colombia accessible to everyone, while creating a more sustainable future for farmers.

In his position as CEO of Minas Hill Coffee, Marcelo Brussi has formed countless friends and contacts within the coffee industry. In 2014, a chance meeting with Melbourne-based Colombian coffee roaster Sebastian Farias left an indelible mark on him, which he knew one day would lead to something special.

“What caught my attention about Sebastian is that we shared many of the same thoughts about the industry. He had really strong views about sustainability and the importance of promoting the welfare of farmers,” says Marcelo, Founder of the South American Growers’ Association (SAGA).

As well as personal ideologies, another factor drawing the pair together was professional experience. Sebastian’s work with Colombian-based Farmore has led him to advocate for small-scale independent farmers, something Marcelo says he could empathise with through his time with Minas Hill Coffee.

“We had such closely aligned values both personally and professionally that it immediately came to my mind – one day we are going to create a partnership to work together,” he says.

More than five years later, that day has come. Marcelo and Sebastian have combined their expertise to form SAGA, a green bean trader specialising in Brazilian and Colombian coffee.

Launched in February 2020, the business takes a different approach to quality coffee, promoting inclusion and accessibility over exclusivity.

“At SAGA we deal with all shades of coffee. Finding the balance of quality and affordability is one of our key targets. We want to open the market up for everyone in the industry to have access to good quality coffee,” Marcelo says.

“We want to integrate logistics, minimise transportation costs, increase education, and reduce CO2 emissions, while promoting the best of these two beautiful countries.”

SAGA’s market is broad, ranging from microlots to single origin blends.

The trader wants to connect roasters to affordable, high-grade beans, and empower farmers to contribute to a sustainable supply chain.

“Imagine produce from two of the best coffee countries being brought to Australia through the combination of two reputable companies. We have joined forces to showcase quality coffee, but also improve the livelihood of producers in both countries,” Marcelo says.

The green bean traders both have rich personal histories of contributing to economic and environmentally sustainable coffee production.

Through Farmore, Sebastian has been working with ecologically conscious producers in the Santander region of Colombia to create logistical pathways, trade, and competitive pricing.

Similarly, Marcelo’s work with Minas Hill has seen him work extensively with environmentally conscious farmers, some of which are continuing their business relationship through SAGA.

“One pre-existing partner I’m continuing to work with is Pedro Gabarra Teixeira, who owns four farms near the border of the Southern Minas Gerais region in Brazil. He was recognised for his dedication to the environment in 2019 and was awarded for having the most sustainable farm in the entire country,” Marcelo says.

“We’ve learned a lot from each other. He has the sort of knowledge we want to pass onto other farmers. One thing we are introducing is the use of Harvest Restore Bags. They are made of 25 per cent corn starch and will help to reduce plastic waste.”

Eventually, Marcelo hopes SAGA will be able to expand into other coffee growing regions in South America and contribute to sustainable farming on a wider scale.

“We want to fully support the region. This includes providing farmers access to full after-sale support through roasters,”
he says.

“Sebastian and I have big aspiration. It’s an exciting project and we’re looking forward to where it takes us.”

For more information, email info@sagacoffee.com.au, or contact Marcelo on 0402 083 237