Friday, May 6, 2011

João Antônio Garrote - Brazil's Best Coffee Farmer

Recently, São Paulo's upmarket coffee-bar chain Santo Grão (Holy Bean) began to offer a new variety of coffee for prices that were shockingly high by Brazilian standards, even by expensive-metropolis São Paulo prices. An expresso costs R$16 (equivalent to about USD $10), and in packaged form this coffee sells for R$100 (USD $60) per pound. In a country where a pound of good coffee in the supermarket sells for a tenth of that price, Santo Grão's price for this new variety was nothing short of shocking.

So what is this coffee, and why does is command such a high price? The coffee is a single-plantation, single-hybrid coffee which comes from the Estância São Francisco (San Francisco Ranch) plantation in the town of Itaí, in São Paulo State. The owner/farmer of Estância São Francisco is named João Antônio Garrote, and in November 2010, his estate's coffee was named the best in Brazil in the 7th annual National Coffee Quality Contest sponsored by ABIC - The Brazilian Coffee Industry Association. In that contest, Sr. Garrote's Catuaí-variety coffee scored 89 out of a possible 100 points on such factors as aroma, taste, acidity, body, balance and sweetness. Complete results of the scoring can be seen here (in Portuguese only).

Following the contest, Sr. Garrote's award-winning coffee, of which only a very small quantity of 180 kg (400 lb) was produced, was sold at auction. Santo Grão's bid of R$12,320 (USD $19,720) for the lot was the highest at the auction, and thus the coffee-bar obtained Sr. Garrote's entire production for about USD $50 a pound. Suddenly, Santo Grão's selling price of USD $50 per pound doesn't seem unreasonable, and in fact, it's likely that other coffees they sell have a much higher margin. But only Santo Grão has the prestige of selling Brazil's best coffee, and in the marketplace that's probably worth a considerably higher amount than the $10 they make on selling each pound.


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