Growers and sellers in a region of Brazil’s Minas Gerais are organizing to promote the quality of their coffees, last week holding the first annual Mantiqueira de Minas Coffee Quality awards ceremony and introducing a related seal. In a country often associated with mass, collective production, an overarching goal of the awards program is to recognize individual producers and promote the sub-region’s coffees to specialty buyers as a differentiated product.
“The coffees participating in the contest are all certified with the ‘Seal Guaranteed Origin and Quality,’ ” says Antônio José Junqueira Villela, president of APROCAM (Association of Coffee Producers in Mantiqueira), which helped coordinate the event. “This gives the buyers the certainty they have a product that reflects unique organoleptic characteristics, only found in our region. The seal proves our commitment to promote the Mantiqueira de Minas origin, and also, to praise our secular tradition in the production of rare and surprising coffees.”
The contest itself included more than 50 coffees in two categories: pulped natural and non-pulped natural, with 15 winners taking honors in each category. Coffee samples were numbered — without names — and sent to licensed Q-graders for judging.
Professor Leandro Carlos Paiva, from the Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Sul de Minas (South of Minas Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology) coordinated the technical aspects of the contest. He suggests bringing together individual cooperatives and producers for such programs is good for far more than notoriety.
“The contest cannot be seen as an end, but as a means,” he says. “Through initiatives such as this one, Mantiqueira de Minas evolves in the constant journey for quality and for more precise identification of the characteristics of its coffees. The contest is a means to demonstrate the region’s potential and to promote it, as well as to promote the producers and coops working together.”
The program had direct support from SEBRAE, a Brazilian organization currently working on a geographical indication project in the region. Here is a list of winning coffees from the inaugural awards: