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Agribahia: from Angola to Brazil - quality, tradition.

The Lagoa do Morro farm is unusual for Brazil. First of all it is quite large (3.7 million trees); it is located outside the traditional coffee-growing regions up in the northeast; and it grows mostly specialty coffee, which, again is not traditional for Brazil.

Even though Agribahia, the owners of the Lagoa do Morro farm, may be less traditional for the Brazilian coffee, they are certainly not short on tradition in coffee. Several principals and technicians hail from Angola where the original company operated the famed CADA coffee plantations. At 14 million trees, the CADA plantation was, in its time, the largest plantation in Angola and arguably one of the largest in the world. The coffee produced at this plantation was a Washed Robusta.

In 1975, Angola's new government nationalized most property, especially property owned by foreign interests. CADA, being owned by Espirito Santo, a large Portuguese company, was seized, and the founders along with many of the expert technicians took off to Brazil, rounding Agribahia in 1977.

Agribahia's Lagoa do Morro farm is located in the state of Bahia, outside Salvador, Brazil and has an average altitude of 2,700 feet and medium annual rainfall of about 800 mm. Of its total area of 10,900 acres, about 6,180 acres are planted with 3.7 million coffee trees of the best Arabica cultivars.

The coffee plantation uses the most modern agricultural techniques and the selective picking method ensures that only ripe berries are harvested.

Further to the plantations, the company has built on the farm one of the largest plants in Brazil for milling coffee by the wet method.

"Our organization and delivery...there's nothing like it," said Fausto Costa, from Agribahia's parent company headquarters office in Lisbon, Portugal.

One kind of specialty coffee produced on the farm in a very small production is the Agribahia Special Bourbon. In the the year 1715, Arabica coffee seeds were introduced to the island of Bourbon, a small French possession in the Indian Ocean by Captain Dufourgerat-Grenier, a French officer for the French East India Company.

Plantings of coffee spread rapidly throughout the island and a new type evolved that became known as the Bourbon variety. In 1864, Bourbon seeds arrived in Brazil where the Portuguese had been planting coffee since 1723. Its unique quality attracted the attention of the Sao Paulo growers and soon the Bourbon variety found its way into the Fazendas (plantations).

In the 1940's and 1950's, world consumption of coffee increased enormously, stimulating the search for more productive varieties of Arabicas. In Brazilian plantations, Bourbon trees were progressively replaced by the Catuai and Mundo Novo relatives.

At Agribahia's plantation, a few of the best seeds produced by the nurseries are allocated a few acres of its most fertile land to grow the Bourbon variety. This coffee does not enter the mainstream operations of the farm. It is separately harvested and processed.

Agribahia is a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of Brazil.

For more information, contact Agribahia at: Tel: (35)11 397 08 00.
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Author:John, Glenn
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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