Direct Trade

Journey to the home of Coffee.

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Flying over the clouds.

When you’ re going to have a good day, you can tell from the beginning. On the plane ride a Brazilian woman sits next to me acting as a precursor to all I will experience during my trip to Brazil. A dash if craziness, pleasant chatting and a blend of English with a Brazilian accent and a whole lot of coffee. All of these, because her family has coffee farms in Minas Gerais. I found her to be crazy about coffee, like us.
And I liked her. Craziness and Coffee. A good omen.

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On our way to our “inheritance” …

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Leandro, our car driver doesn’t speak a word of English and I don’t know any Portuguese. In the car, we listen to Brazilian music that wakes you up, mixed with political speeches because of the upcoming elections. Slums and skyscrapers, big and small villages. On the road for Perdegulho, green landscapes and then suddenly a Favela. Brazil. A crazy country that promises to keep me awake despite my lack of sleep and jet lag. The coffee on the street is awful, but luckily we have brought provisions with us. Coffee and madness combined.

Chapadão. Despite arriving my journey continues.

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The hosting space is an experience on its own. A beautiful guest house, with animals roaming everywhere, a restaurant, chapel and of course… coffee. The whole space smell of coffee. Maybe the whole country does?
Our explanation lies across the street. The old railway station that once gathered the entire coffee production of the area, to be transported to the Santos Harbor for exporting. Now it is undergoing renovations to become a museum, a coffee museum. Next to it a small chapel; that reminds me of something. It is made by Oscar Niemeyer, my favourite architect and I am next to it. Later, I find out that he has also designed the house of the man who was inspired to create the farm, that is in the farm itself.
I arrive at my small place and think about how special this place is. In the entrance, I find a strange exotic bird. It looks at me in wonder. I look back at it. It is multicoloured and happy looking but it is trying to find its way out by banging on the windows, I hang out with this multicoloured invader for a time.
Late came food and discussion. With people, not the bird. I’m crazy about coffee, not plain crazy.

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Boss, we’ re off for coffee.
Everything was reminiscent of a holiday, until I arrived at our “inheritance” in Brazil! There we went for coffee. That means work. For us and for our Brazilian partners, going for coffee is the opposite of what people usually mean, A lot of work! We meet the CEP, take records of experimental varieties, processing, milling, categorizing, packaging, getting informed on the eco-friendly irrigation system, sustainability, sampling, roasting and cupping.

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The day ended. And only then did I notice one of Aristotle quotes prominently written in the wall. Yes, ancient Greek in a coffee farm in Brazil. Crazy? Maybe not so much. I remember the legendary football player, Socrates who played for Brazil’s National team!
Brazilians love ancient Greeks. And football. Now that I think about it, I saw Aristotle, football fields but I haven’t seen a match yet, I was planning to ask the CEO about football during dinner the night before. We started talking about our companies, our cooperation, how we would invest in R&D and then came… the caipirinhas. 41 hours of standing, jet lag and caipirinha. Tiredness- football, 1-0. I never asked. Instead I went to bed.

White, Red, Yellow, Blue. Feathers.
The morning came and I was woken up by multicoloured parrots and birds arriving at my window.
I said goodbye to the exotic, feathered alarm clocks and went for a cup of coffee. First coffee and breakfast with the team at Chapadão and then coffee… meaning work at fazenda. Preparing the beans, collecting samples from the coffee trees, cupping. We were amazed by experimental cultivation, such as limao. They are coffee trees with leaves similar to the ones you see on lemon trees and the beans taste of lemon and coffee. The day continued like this  in the lab. Roasting- Cupping, Roasting- Cupping, Roasting- Cupping, Roasting- Cupping, Night came and with the night the Caipirinhas!

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Caipirinhas, Brazilian treats, good company and conversations on coffee. A perfect evening until … the village caught fire! Fire! Fire! The Greek ran around shooting and everyone looked at him in wonder, This is how we burn sugarcanes here they informed me!
Then… a surprise. Cupping caipirinhas! 20 different kind but in this occasion, as opposed to coffee, you are supposed to drink them. When I went to bed, I also thought that I was a parrot.

Bye bye parrots, Hello Sao Paolo
I woke up and said goodbye to my feathered friends lounging at my window, because we are leaving for Sao Paolo for the weekend!

I’m a VIP! I take a tour in Sao Paolo in an armored vehicle! Sao Paolo people explains offers everything except for security. Favelas, poverty and expensive neighborhoods, big shopping centers small shops known only to locals. An immense city, full of controversy. You see, listen and smell and after trying countless unusual fruit in the market I find myself in the Vila Madalena area. Brazilian are like us! Bars, people, live music, colours, people dancing on the street. Free Samba.

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I like Monday!
How is this possible? Maybe it’s the craziness in Brazil. When I manage to write the rest about my trip, I ‘ll prove it.

Panagiotis Konstantinopoulos
Network Operation Director
R&D Director

 

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