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Bandeirante: a specialty coffee from Brazil.

Bandeirante: A specialty coffee from Brazil

In October, Bandeirante, a unique coffee from Brazil, will be introduced in the U.S. specialty market. Bandeirante is a coffee from a newly developing area in Brazil called the Cerrado.

The popularity of Brazil coffee in the U.S. as a quality coffee has waned, especially after the frost of 1975, when the coffee became too expensive for what it could offer. Scarcity is now hardly a problem for Brazil coffee, but since the frost the U.S. has turned to lower grades of Brazil out of price consideration. These lower grades, usually blends of coffees from different areas, have established a mediocre quality image of Brazil coffees in the U.S. specialty coffee market. This need not be the case.

In other parts of the world, like Scandinavia, where the consumption of coffee is the highest in the world, Brazilian coffee takes 40 to 60 percent of the market together with other high quality Arabica coffees. Not only do Brazil coffees have a specific character of their own in terms of body and acidity, Brazils are also considered to be the ultimate blending component with other origins like Colombian, Central American and East African coffees. As the perfect catalyst in a blend, it allows other coffees to come forward with their own characteristics without masking or diminishing them.

Since the great frost of 1975 a few developments have taken place in the last years that justify a better quality image for Brazil coffee.

After the devastating frost of that year, farmers looked for new areas that would be less susceptible to cold weather. With the financial and technical assistance of the Brazilian Coffee Industry, these farmers moved north to the state of Minas Gerais in the high plateus south of Brazilia, the modernistic capital of Brazil. These plateaus had already been cultivated to some extent for soya and other cash crops. It was the first time that coffee was being considered for culture in these areas. Although the Cerrado does not have the rich terra roxa soil that we find in the traditional areas of Brazil, the soil in the Cerrado, with the help of the latest fertilization techniques, lends itself very well to the cultivation of coffee. But there are also other important advantages.

First of all is the climate. In the Cerrado the nights in general are cool and the days are warm. Furthermore, the dry season coincides with the harvesting period so the chances of rain damage are further reduced. The wet season usually starts in September; after the harvesting is finished. This is very beneficial to the flowering period that lasts from September to November. These are ideal climactic conditions to improve the quality of the coffee.

Secondly, the landscape is flat and allows the use of mechanized harvesting and other state-of-the-art technology. Some farms even have irrigation systems to avoid the risk of prolonged dry spells.

Although the coffee cultivation in the Cerrado is based on technology and modern agricultural management, running a coffee plantation in these areas is still pioneering, much in the spirit of the old Bandeirantes from the 19th and 18th century. These Bandeirantes were the pioneers that opened the wilderness to civilization. The Bandeirantes embarked on their two year expeditions in search of gold and diamonds. As a matter of fact; of the 20 biggest diamonds ever found in the world 19 were found in the river Paranaiba, that runs straight through the Cerrado. Like these Bandeirantes, the pioneers of the 20th century moved into the Cerrado, to produce the best coffee that is now available in Brazil.

Bandeirante coffee comes from a few farms that meet the criteria for the quality of the product. Coincidentally these plantations are all run by families that have a high involvement in their coffee business. To reduce the risk of defects, Bandeirante is specially handpicked and only available in the large 17/18 screen bean size. Bandeirante is also a 100 percent Cerrado coffee that has not been blended with coffees from other regions. Usually Brazil coffees from different areas are blended, whereby the excellent coffee compensates the defects of others in order to come to an average type that can be supplied at all times. Bandeirante coffee is a specific coffee from specific farms of a specific quality and can only be supplied when available.

Bandeirante coffee is a result of close cooperation between the farmers, Alessie & Co. from Amsterdam, Holland and Knutzen Coffees, San Francisco, California. Alessie and Co. have been in the coffee business since 1916 and have especially over the past 20 years built up a vast experience on Brazilian coffees. The standards for Bandeirante have been developed in close cooperation with the farmers.

Quality control and exporting details will be handled from their Santos office. Alessie and Co. will market Bandierante over the world from their Amsterdam office. The distributor for the U.S. is Knutzen Coffees Ltd., who have their office in San Francisco.

Seeking the very best coffees from every growing area in the world has always been the goal of Knutzen Coffees, so when the opportunity came along to distribute this fine Brazilian coffee for the first time in the United States, Erna Knutzen, the firm's president, enthusiastically accepted Alessie & Co.'s offer. She has spent the last 20 years advancing the cause of top-quality coffees in the U.S. from her San Francisco office. In the process she has had a significant influence on the development of the specialty coffee sector and is a recognized authority in her field. She has served on the Board of the Specialty Coffee Association of America as well as the Pacific Coast Coffee Association and worked on the task force of the Coffee Reference Manual of the Coffee Development Group, the promotional arm of the International Coffee Organization.

PHOTO : Erna Knutsen proudly displays the companies' newest "find."
COPYRIGHT 1989 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Oct 1, 1989
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