Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Coffee in Brazil is Black

April 19, 2021

Coffee in Brazil is Black, it was built on the back of slaves brought from West Africa in slave ships

I prefer to see my mother rot than sign a letter of liberty for my slaves. — Monito Campert, Brazilian coffee baron, 1888

The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression. — W E B DuBois

Coffee was introduced to the Portuguese colony of Brazil by Francisco Melo Palheta in 1727. He acquired coffee beans by dubious means when asked to help solve a dispute between Dutch and French colonies in Guiana.  On his return to Brazil he planted the seeds in Para, but until 1822 coffee remained a minor crop compared with sugar. 

Coffee became an important crop when planted in the mountainous Paraiba valley south of Rio, forests cleared, slash and burn, deep purple soil, terra roxa, the coffee seeds planted in the ash, when exhausted, clear more forest, slash and burn.

Coffee estates, fazendas, were huge, two, three, four millions trees. The largest belonging to Francesco Shmidt was a fazenda of seven million coffee trees, employing 40,000 workers. On the fazendas a single slave would tend four to seven thousand coffee plants.

The early coffee plantations in Brazil were a slave economy, 40% of the slaves from West Africa ended up in Brazil.

Over two centuries, Brazil imported three million slaves to work the private fiefdoms that were the coffee estates, an additional five million worked the sugar plantations. To put these figures in context, around half a millions slaves were shipped to North America.

The plantation slave economy is reflected in modern day Brazil. Ten per cent of the population own over 50% of the wealth. Descendants of slaves are ten times more like to be illiterate or destitute.

An IBGE Agro Census (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) carried out between 2017 and 2018, Brazil has five million agricultural establishments, 45.4% are run by white producers. Brown producers have 44.5%, while 8.4% are owned by blacks, 1.1% by indigenous and 0.6% by yellow. There are 2.2 million white producers and 2.6 million black and brown ones, considering the sum of all types of agricultural properties, regardless of the culture and the size of the land.

In large properties, there are almost no black producers. Of the 1,559 farms with more than 10,000 hectares, for example, 1,232 are run by whites, 270 by browns and only 25 by blacks. The ratio is four white producers to one black or brown producer. As for small properties, with fewer than five hectares, the reality is reversed: blacks and browns are the majority.

When considering the extent of the properties of each ethnic group, the survey portrays a great inequality: white producers occupy 208 million hectares, or 59.4% of the total area of ​​establishments, while blacks and browns have, together, less than half of that, that is, 99 million hectares or 28%.

The distortion is even more profound than the distribution of national income found in the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (Continuous Pnad) in 2015, according to which whites hold 59% of the country’s wealth, while browns hold 33% and blacks 7%.

To put these figures in context, only one or two per cent of Black Americans own land, ie even worse than Brazil.

A Black farm owner, passers by ask, who owns the land. 

When Phyllis Johnson visited a group in Brazil, the Black female coffee workers could hardly believe their eyes when a Black woman stepped out of the car, they were no longer invisible. They were as proud of their work in coffee as the White coffee farmers who owned the land.

Coffee baron Grao-Mogul was one of the most notorious of the slave owners. If a child fell ill or died, the mother was punished for damage or loss of his property. He would hold banquets at his mansion, when food and drink consumed, the men would descend into the cellar below his house to take their pleasure of the female slaves tied up. 

Brazil was the last of the Western countries to abolish slavery, an internal slave market developed when the British intercepted slave ships. It was not until 1871 Brazil passed the Law of the Free Womb making children of slaves free at birth, followed in 1888 by the Golden Law freeing all slaves. Not that the freed slaves were much better off, the only employment was on the plantations under the same conditions.

When slavery was abolished, the plantations imported cheap labour from southern Europe.

An agricultural census of Sao Paulo State in 1905, sixty-five per cent of the workforce on 21,000 coffee farms was foreign born. The top 20% of the farmers controlled 83% of the land, produced 75% of the coffee, employed 67% of the agricultural workforce.

Coffee production in Brazil:

  • 1871 3 millions sacks
  • 1900 15 million sacks
  • 1930 25 million sacks
  • 2020 69 million sacks

Coffee production boomed from 1820 onward. By 1830 Brazil produced thirty per cent of the world’s coffee, by 1840 forty per cent.

Little has changed in Brazil, fascist President Bolsonaro is waging a war of genocide against the poor with coronavirus, his supporters evangelicals and wealthy owners of large estates who accrued their wealth through slavery. 

Phyllis Johnson is an African American whose widowed mother worked the family cotton farm in Arkansas in order to support her seven children who studied and graduated. She is President and co-founder and CEO of BD Imports a coffee importer and author of The Triumph: Black Brazilians in Coffee.

Amazon under threat in Brazil

April 15, 2021

The Indigenous People of the Amazon are under attack.

President of Brazil Bolsonaro wants to open up some of the most fragile rainforest to predatory mining companies.

Bolsonaro says it’s his ‘dream’ to open up the Amazon rainforest for mining but for the Indigenous People who call it their home, it’s a nightmare.

Ripping up the land to mine for gold and diamonds will devastate the precious ecosystems and the Indigenous communities who have protected these sacred lands for years.

Thirty years ago Brazil’s constitution put these Indigenous lands out of bounds.

But ever since Bolsonaro came to power, mining giants and small-time prospectors have been clamouring to get their hands on the Amazon’s treasures. Unless we stand-up and stop Bolsonaro’s plan, this could be their golden ticket.

This attack on these Indigenous Peoples’ lands is an attack on all of us. Our survival depends on the Amazon rainforest, and the Indigenous People that nurture it.

Now those fighting on the frontlines, like our allies at the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil and the Pariri Indigenous Association need our help. Let’s stand with them in their hour of need.

Please sign the SumofUs petition calling on Members of the Chamber of Deputies to stop this destruction of the Amazon.

We call on you to vote against Bill 191/2020 and continue to uphold the ban on mining and water companies accessing constitutionally-protected Indigenous lands.

Contrast Brazil with Peru. In Peru, cooperation with indigenous communities, growing of coffee in the shade under the canopy of the trees is helping to protect the Amazon.

Stephen Leighton UK Brewers Cup semifinals

March 21, 2018

Last week I was in conversation with Stephen Leighton, green been buyer, coffee roaster, head of Has Bean, author of Coffeeography.

What I did not know and only stumbled upon last night, was that Stephen Leighton was a semifinalist  in the SCA UK Brewers Cup last year.

Had I known, I would have asked him to brew me a coffee.

Stephen Leighton did something very strange, he did not use Geisha, which most do, he used, I would hate to describe it as an ordinary coffee, and certainly not an inferior coffee, he did not pop down to the local Costa or tax-dodging Caffe Nero and ask for some coffee beans, or order over-roasted catering supply coffee from Stokes, he used a perfectly acceptable Brazilian coffee.

Is that not what the Brewers Cup should be about, a skilled barista challenging us all to obtain the best from a coffee that we may actually buy in the real world?  Showcasing the skills of the barista not showcasing the coffee?

Last year, I tried what Martin Hudak used to win Coffee in Good Spirits, I had the beans, goes with out saying Geisha, and wooed people with the beans. A coffee that was in very short supply and retailed at around £200 per kilo.

Stephen Leighton was therefore taking a risk, he knew he was taking a  risk, but he was also making a point, mere mortals do not drink Geisha, they do not come across Geisha in coffee shops, though I did at Just Made 33, mere mortals in speciality coffee shops are served excellent coffee, but not Geisha.

Should the Brewers Cup not be about brewing, rewarding innovation, it is not a Cup of Excellence judging a coffee.

I had a message I needed to share with the world.  I love coffee and I love barista competition, but I regret the way that the competition has become a Geisha show, using caricature coffees that have no resemblance to the coffees that our customers drink at home. Coffee is multi faceted and has so many things it can give us.

So decided to make a presentation about this and used what I described in my presentation as an unexciting Brazil, a pulp natural that’s grown at 1100 to 1250 masl and is a yellow bourbon varietal from Fazenda Cacheoria in Sao Paolo state on the border of Minas Gerias.

Quite a risk to bring this coffee to a Brewers Cup competition, but after a lot of thought I decided actually not. There’s a clue in the name, Brewers Cup. It’s about brewing coffee, not airfreighting in micro lots from around the world that show off, I know, I’ve done that in the past, but it should be about making three drinks and ensuring predictable, intended, outcomes. Brazil’s are perfect for this, with a huge window of brewing opportunity. It is much easier to work with than Geisha or a Kenyan, so it would be actually easier for me to hit my brewing parameters and give the judges a delicious cup of coffee. It’s extractable and predictable.

I’ve worked with his farm for 14 years, slowly and surely increasing our volumes. I did some quick sums and and I’ve bought over 150 tonnes of this coffee in my time at Hasbean. I’ve brewed this coffee more than any other, and drink buckets of the stuff while I’m banging out emails. It’s my go to coffee, I know it inside out. I’ve  also worked out that in the last 14 years my customers have probably brewed around 10 million cups of this coffee. There has to be something in it right ? It has to be a good brewed coffee if we have sold so much of it and have such customer demand. They love it for the same reasons, easy to brew extractable, predicable outcomes and simple descriptors that anyone can get.

Rebellion, rocking the boat, never goes down well with judges. Stephen Leighton sadly did not make it to the finals.

The judges criticised his workflow, failure to explain use of Chemex.

I saw nothing wrong with workflow. He added a fourth Chemex to allow him to pace his workflow, and avoided the need to pause (always an awkward pause as what to do?). It was also an innovation to have a fourth Chemex, allowing the audience to taste what he had brewed. Maybe that was seen as an affront by the judges.

He delved into some depth on why he was using the Chemex.

I’m using Chemex as this is how I brew at work and at home. I love Chemex for the unique cup profile and the aesthetically pleasing design. Its also according to Ian Fleming the choice of brewer of James Bond, and who can argue with 007? It also gives a clean sweeter lighter cup removing lots of suspended solids with its thick paper filters which is perfect for a normally thick gloomy pulped natural Brazil, making it lighter and cleaner while retaining its inherent sweetness and tasting notes.

There was innovation on the water, half bottled, half tap water. Innovation no bloom. Innovation on the pouring.

There is a reason for allowing the coffee to bloom, it allows the CO2 to escape, aids the extraction, or so the theory runs and yet Stephen Leighton says it makes no difference.

A V60 and a Chemex, we see pouring in a circular motion. Not here.

I have seen similar in Athens, when Manos Mamatis, Coffee in Good Spirits World Championship No 2 poured me a V60 at The Underdog, a very narrow stream of hot water directed at the centre, a technique pioneered by World Champion Barista Stefanos Domatiotis of Taf.

The Brazilian coffee used a yellow bourbon varietal from Fazenda Cacheoria in Sao Paolo state on the border of Minas Gerias is from a producer featured in Coffeeography.

Last year Dale Harris Director of wholesale at Hasbean won the World Barista Championships.

Hasbean will be opening a pop up coffee shop in Brick Lane for the duration of the London Coffee Festival (12-15 April 2018).

Sharing the spoils

October 23, 2014

protest against Nicaragua trans-ocean canal

protest against Nicaragua trans-ocean canal

protest outside BHPBilton AGM at coal mining in Colombia

protest outside BHPBilton AGM at coal mining in Colombia

Bolivia: Gap between rich and poor narrowed, unemployment halved, reduction in those living in extreme poverty.

Brazil: Reduction of those living in extreme poverty by 65% in a decade.

Venezuela: Reduction by half those living in extreme poverty, college enrolment has doubled.

Ecuador: Extreme poverty reduced by a third.

Argentina: Urban poverty halved.

But is has been achieved by sharing the spoils.

Peasants Revolt, French Revolution, Russian Revolution. a fight as to who shares the spoils.

Cutting down the rain forests and giving the man wielding the chainsaw a greater share of the spoils.

Better than Africa where a tiny elite divvy out the spoils, and most drains out of the country.

But all is based on growth, dirty extractive industries, cutting down the rain forests.

Ecuador has a growing dependency on oil exports, including from the Amazon

Bolivia a huge dependency on natural gas.

Argentina open cast mining and green deserts of genetically modified crops.

Brazil mega-dam projects and off-shore drilling.

Those who suffer worst from these projects are the rural poor and indigenous people. They lose the land, their forests, see their watercourses polluted.

And we all lose when global temperatures rise above 2C and we face thermal runaway over which we will have no control.

In Brazil, there has been many legal challenges against the mega-dam projects.

It is no different to what went before, growth, trashing the planet.

Dirty extraction is not of course limited to Latin America.

Statoil, is investing in tar sand and Arctic drilling.

In Greece gold mining.

There has to be genuine change and a move away from a model of growth and unsustainable dirty extraction. Otherwise all we are doing is re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic to give everyone an equal view of the iceberg.

Cup for the rich, scraps for the poor

May 27, 2014

Cup for the rich, scraps for the poor

Cup for the rich, scraps for the poor

The money Brazil has squandered on the Word Cup could have gone on infrastructure to benefit everyone, especially the poor.

Painting by Paul Ito.

Raul Seixas – O inicio, o fim, o meio

April 28, 2013

Documentary on Raul Seixas.

Raul Seixas (1945-1989), Brazilian rock composer, singer, songwriter and producer, born in Salvador, Brazil, and died of pancreatitis in São Paulo.

Prior to being a writer, Paulo Coelho was in a song-writing partnership with Raul Seixas.

Thanks to Paulo Coelho for posting on his blog.

Synchronicity: Only a couple of days ago, I was discussing Raul Seixas with a Brazilian girl and the song-writing partnership he had with Paulo Coelho.

Diário de Classe a verdade …

September 4, 2012

Diário de Classe a verdade ...

Diário de Classe a verdade …

Isadora Faber y Martha Payne

Isadora Faber y Martha Payne

Martha Payne aka Veg with her NeverSeconds food blog has inspired a Brazilian schoolgirl to launch a similar blog, which in turn has led to improvement at the school.

Brazilian teenager Isadora Faber was inspired to start a blog after hearing about Martha Payne aka Veg.

Martha talked about school dinners, Isadora Faber took it further and talked about more than school dinner, highlighting problems with her school.

She created her own Facebook page Diário de Classe: A Verdade (School Diary: The Truth).

The photos published on her page showed broken water fountains and fans, a basketball court with no ceiling and she even called for a teacher who had issues with some students to be replaced.

What she was writing got picked up by newspapers and TV channels and has led directly to a school refurbishment programme and the teacher with who the students were having problems being replaced.

There were attempts by bullyboys at the local council to silence Martha, but she showed courage in the face of the bullies and stood firm.

Isadora faced bullying by the school to try and silence her, but like Martha she stood firm.

Both girls have exchanged videos with each other.

As well as writing of her school dinners, Martha has raised funds for a school kitchen in Malawi called Friends of NeverSeconds. Later this month Martha and her family will be travelling to Malawi for the inauguartion of Friends of NeverSeconds.

Martha has been nominated for a Great Scot Award and for a BBC Food and Farming Award.

Today, on my way from Guildford farmers market and on my way to a lovely coffee shop Café Mila, on visiting Cook (a lovely food shop in Godalming), I nominated Martha for a Cook Great Briton Award. As I told in the shop, I could not think of a more deserving recipient who has done more to raise awareness and understanding of good food.

Whilst at Café Mila a little girl came and chatted to me and told me she was enjoying her ice cream. I asked did she like the coffee shop? A very definite yes. Would she not rather be at Costa? A very definite no!

The Rolling Stones – Live On Copacabana Beach

August 27, 2012

The Rolling Stones played in front of 1.5million people, the biggest concert of all time, at Copacabana Beach, Rio De Janeiro, on the 18th February 2006.

To celebrate the beginning of their 50th anniversary year, on 12th July 2012 The Stones released this historic concert in its entirety.

More groups need to follow their good example and release high quality footage of their concerts for fans to watch.

The Rio concert was the opening night of a World Tour.

The concert opened with AfroReggae.

Many years ago I saw The Stones play in London.

Manuscrito encontrado em Accra

June 6, 2012

Manuscrito encontrado em Accra (Manuscript found in Accra), latest Paulo Coelho book scheduled for publication in Brazil, August 2012.

Maria

January 26, 2011

Paulo and Maria 2002

Paulo and Maria 2002

“At every moment of our lives we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.”

“When we meet someone and fall in love, we have a sense that the whole universe is on our side… And yet if something goes wrong, there is nothing left! How is it possible for the beauty that was there only minutes before to vanish so quickly? Life moves very fast. It rushes from heaven to hell in a matter of seconds.”

“If I must be faithful to someone or something, then I have, first of all, to be faithful to myself.”

“If I’m looking for true love, I first have to get the mediocre love out of my systems.”

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally come to realize that nothing really belongs to them.”

“The art of sex is the art of controlled abandon.”

“Passion makes a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. A lot of people are frightened because, when it appears, it demolishes all the old things it finds in its path.”

“In love, no one can harm anyone else; we are each of us responsible for our own feelings and cannot blame someone else for what we feel.”

“The great aim of every human being is to understand the meaning of total love. Love is not to be found in someone else, but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But in order to do that, we need the other person. The universe only makes sense when we have someone to share our feelings with.”

Pain and suffering are used to justify the one thing that brings only joy: love.

“Considering the way the world is, one happy day is almost a miracle.”

From the diary of Maria, the prostitute in Eleven Minutes. Also posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho is the story of Maria, a Brazilian girl who is enticed to work in Switzerland and ends up working as a well-paid prostitute.

Danish composer Stig Nordestgaard turned Eleven Minutes into a musical.

For my lovely friend Polina who read Eleven Minutes in English, then Russian. And for my lovely friend Alisa at whose suggestion I read Eleven Minutes.


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