By Eton Tsuno, Temple Director of Coffee
Henrique Sloper is a man who needs no introduction in the Brazilian coffee world. He is a fourth-generation coffee farmer and owner of Fazenda Camocim in Pedro Azul, Espirito Santo. As a past President of the Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA), some say he is responsible for bringing the Cup of Excellence to Brazil as he was President of the BSCA during the first COE Brazil. Most recently, Henrique won 1st place with a lot of coffee that scored an astonishing 93.60 at the 2017 Brazilian Natural Cup of Excellence.
In the early 90’s Henrique made the very conscious decision to turn to biodynamic organic farming. This is an extraordinary feat and decision, especially for someone who farms coffee in a country that is highly mechanized, focused on quantity and driving the cost of production down. With Henrique’s decision to farm with biodynamics he made the decision to farm for soil health, de-mechanize, and focus on quality. With smaller yields and higher production costs, this represents everything that Brazilian coffee production has been working against for decades.
Why would Henrique make such a decision? Aside from admittedly being a bit stubborn and looking for the “right” path, he believes strongly in growing organically and protecting Mother Nature. Also, if you remember from Part 1 of this article, Espirito Santo has just recently been recognized on the world stage as producers of quality coffee in Brazil. Previously, coffees and producers in Espirito Santo were not recognized as the best, did not fetch the best prices, and were more recognized as the outliers with outlier prices to match.
Henrique’s great grandfather was the first in the area to plant coffee in 1962 (300,000 trees). After planting, they implemented traditional Brazilian farming techniques, using fungicides alongside chemical fertilizers and inputs. It was not until the time conventional farming techniques did not work that the Slopers decided to take a holistic approach and turn to biodynamic and organic techniques. After making this switch, the Slopers saw significant trends for the positive and the rest is history.