Rio Verde’s clay soil is rich in decomposed minerals and full of nutrients due to its rich flora and fauna. Its altitude and plentiful water sources make it ideal for growing not only coffee but also Macadamia and renewable timber. High elevations combined with mountainous topography create a unique microclimate, with mild temperatures and rainfall average of 1,600 mm a year, ideal for growing Yellow Bourbon, Acaia, Yellow Catuaí, Yellow Topazio, Mundo Novo, Yellow Icatú and Catucaí. The diversity of the environment along with the many planted coffee varieties makes for numerous ‘terroirs’, each with its own taste nuances and complexities.
The farm is separated out into 69 different ‘glebes’ – or plots – each of which possesses its own small microclimate and is treated and processed separate from the others. 32 of these glebes are located above 1,000 metres, and special care is taken to preserve the coffee’s natural potential for quality from these. This 100% Yellow Icatú lot comes from a single gleb and was processed using the Pulped Natural method.
Ipanema’s mills, located across two processing centres in Fazenda Capoeirinha and Fazenda Conquista (also part of the Ipanema group), can prepare up to 140,000 bags of coffee a year. At the peak of the harvest, the company’s cupping team analyses more than 300 samples per day.
Pulped Natural coffees such as this one are subject to meticulous standards from harvest through to resting. Coffee is selectively harvested either mechanically or by hand and then delivered to be pulped at the wet mill. With mucilage still attached, the coffee is taken to the patio to pre-dry for between 28 and 48 hours. The coffee may also be finished in one of the farm’s 48 mechanical driers, where they are slowly dried at an even and soft heat for around 48 hours. Bean quality is monitored in each dryer, carefully evaluating the appearance and taste profile of each 20 bag batch. After drying, the coffee is then placed in wooden bins to rest at least for 60 days in order to homogenize internal moisture and improve the taste profile. At every step of the process, until exportation, Ipanema’s team evaluates the quality of the lots.
In addition to its coffee production areas, Ipanema also cultivates a sustainable harvest of eucalyptus trees. Unlike most other coffee farms that grow eucalyptus, this is not a diversified timber crop; the eucalyptus at Ipanema is grown exclusively to provide the natural fuel required during the coffee drying process.
Not surprisingly, Ipanema is one of the largest employers in the area and offers around 2,000 jobs during the peak harvest time, in addition to its 300+ year-round jobs. The workers enjoy many benefits such as free distribution of soy milk, food staples, a medical plan, transportation and lodging.