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The Serra de Mantiqueira is a mountain range that stretches across São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro states. Located in Minas Gerais, the Mantiqueria de Minas area was the first to get a geographical indication in the Brazilian coffee industry. This fresh approach, akin to ‘terroir’ in the wine industry, is redefining how people view specialty coffee from Brazil. The area comprises 69,500 hectares and altitude ranges from 900 to 1,500 masl, with 25 counties in the region and 7,800 producers; 89% are smallholders. Ascarive itself has around 45 members.
The lower altitudes are often grazed by cattle and having steeper slopes compared to other parts of the state mean that the near ubiquitous mechanisation of the coffee industry in Brazil is much less commonly seen, and hand picking more prevalent. Though both red and yellow cherries are grown across the region, altitude often splits the choices, with yellow generally but not exclusively being grown at higher elevations.
Ascarive source from a number of farms that also grow competition microlots at the highest altitudes and so employ the same quality mindset across their entire estate. In an area that has received multiple awards within the Brazilian coffee industry for years, it’s not surprising that its own internal quality competition has arisen.