São Sebastião da Grama, a tiny city in the countryside of São Paulo state, was the stage for the birth of the specialty coffee movement in Brazil and Recreio Farm was part of this process. A natural consequence of this effort towards great coffee is reflected in their extraordinary performance in national and international quality contests.
Besides local contests, the total of seven victories in different editions of the Cup of Excellence reminds Mr. Diogo Dias of how important it is to improve every detail on the farm. “I was a finalist in 2001, and I’ve achieved the following years later: 2003 (4th), 2004 (1st), 2008 (2nd), 2009 (3rd), 2010 (4th) and 2013 (5th),” says Dias proudly.
The coffee tradition in the Dias family started back in 1890, when hundreds of plants were cultivated in order to boost production. As a result, a “sea of coffee plants” demanded lots of work for the harvest and maintenance during the year and a large workforce was needed. For this reason, the farm owners offered housing to workers and their families and a mini city with good infrastructure.
The “colônias” (a rough translation for Cologne) were pretty common back in the end of the 19th century, but this changed over time. Nowadays, it is really rare to find this infrastructure on coffee farms. Recreio Farm, however, continues this tradition and has a total of 68 fully-furnished houses maintained for the comfort of its collaborators.
Sports and culture are promoted in different community centers including a soccer field, church, health clinic and even a computer lab for the workers’ children. “We have 45 full-time employees today and we hire an extra 100 people during harvest,” explains Diogo Dias.
Educated as an Agricultural Engineer, Diogo Dias Teixeira de Macedo is responsible for managing the farm. Following in his parents’ footsteps, Mr. Homero Teixeira de Macedo Júnior and Maria Dias Teixeira de Macedo, he started working on the property in 2000. In the past few years, he has been working to combine tradition and innovation in order to produce the best coffees and the prizes at quality contests are crowning his legacy.
Working side by side with his grandfather, Mr. Joaquim José, Diogo implemented important improvements to the process. A modern, ecological system for wet coffee processing; new criteria for separation and drying of natural and pulped coffees; new suspended bins that allow each batch to be stored individually and traceability were some of these changes that made the difference.
These innovations enhanced the terroir features that were already really positive for the coffee production. Fertile soil, mild climate, altitude varying from 1000 to 1300 meters and good exposure to the sun are allies to the technology applied at Recreio Farm.
Due to the topography of the region, the harvest is done by hand over cloths and it starts in the middle of May (when the fruit displays good maturation and a small percentage of green fruits). The processing methods most often applied to the crops are wet and pulped natural, in which the ripe fruits are separated from the others and mechanically pulped. The picked coffee is washed, separated, pulped and spread on the patio on the same day, remaining there until reaching an average humidity of 20%, when it goes to the dryer.
The coffee remains in the dryer until reaching 11% humidity, only then it is sent to boxes to “rest” and homogenize the drying process. It remains there for at least 30 days before it is forwarded to other processing phases. Every single bean is tracked from harvest to shipping and exclusive warehouses guarantee that Recreio Estate Coffee products will keep their quality to the final destination.
Located in Vale da Grama region, nature is generous with its exuberant fauna and flora. In order to preserve its natural resources, the farm has an extensive area for environmental protection. Programs to reclaim the innumerous springs and riverbanks are being undertaken and environmental conservation classes and ideas about sustainability are passed on to the collaborators and their families.
“Respect the past and create the future. In the end, a tradition was an innovation one day.” – Diogo Dias