São Paulo – When the coffee plantation on Camocim farm, in the city of Domingos Martins, in Espírito Santo, was invaded by a flock of ravenous guan, in 2008, owner Henrique Sloper Araújo made the ‘invader’ into an ally and created the Brazilian version of Kopi Luwak, known as the most expensive coffee in the world.
Named Jacu Bird Coffee and exported to the United States, Europe and Japan, the coffee is made from coffee grains digested and eliminated by the guan, a bird native to the Atlantic Forest. The coffee’s success was such that it is now the most expensive in Brazil. Each kilogram costs 360 Brazilian reals (US$ 213). Abroad, each kilogram of Jacu Bird Coffee climbs to 800 reals (US$ 475).
Sloper, who spoke to ANBA by telephone, from Paris, where he is participating in the Sial food fair, said that this is the moment to seek new markets and he considers the Arab markets potential customers both for Jacu Bird Coffee and for the other organic coffees they produce. "The Arab world is the crib of coffee. Our interest in the Arab market is very great as they love coffee and have high buying power," she said.
To guarantee strong presence on the foreign market – 90% of production is currently exported -, Camocim works with local partners who have knowledge of the market in Austria, Italy, England, France, Japan and the United States. "We currently have products to supply all demand, from coffee shops to more sophisticated places that work exclusively with special coffees," he guarantees.
And so a new coffee is born
The story started when Sloper went to see the damage caused by the guan to his coffee plantation –grown in the forest, in an agro-forestry production system – and stepped in the bird faeces. He immediately remembered a curious fact he discovered while travelling in Indonesia.
At the time, the surfer was introduced to the luwak or civet, an Indonesian mammal similar to a cat, responsible for the production of Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee. In the curious process, the animal excretes the intact coffee grains, as his digestive system makes use of the pulp and rejects the grain.
That was when Sloper had the idea of sending the grain removed from the guan faeces for analysis and, after discovering that it offered no risk to health, started producing them in separate, after careful washing and toasting. "The result was coffee with a lighter taste, with characteristic acidity, fruity and flower aromas, very different from the same coffee picked in the traditional method, greatly pleasing gourmets," he explained.
According to Sloper, Jacu Bird Coffee was used in global barista competitions. An Englishman and a North American have already used the special Brazilian coffee to win the competition. "The guan eats the best fruit. That is why the coffee is so good. In the human crop, both the good and the average grains are picked. The bird, however, chooses what he will eat," he explained.
Camocim Farm has been working with coffee since 2000, but the property, purchased by Sloper’s grandfather, Olivar Fontenelle de Araújo, in 1962, is still a reforestation farm with eucalyptus, pine and sweetgum crops. "After my grandfather died, I bought the farm from the other family members and decided to start my personal project of operating with special coffees," he said.
According to the farmer and businessman, in the first crop only 120 60-kilogram bags of coffee were picked. In the 2010 crop, there will be over 1,000 bags. The farm generates between 15 and 40 direct jobs, depending on the time of year.
Today, coffee is produced in an area of 300 hectares. Of this total, 150 hectares are on Camocim Farm and another 150 on leased land or are grown in partnership with other producers in the region.
*Translated by Mark Ament