STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 5, Number 5

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48 STiR coffee and tea / Issue 5, 2016 (October/November) By Kelly Stein MINAS GERAIS, Brazil It was the fifth of the month, payday at Santa Izabel farm located in Ouro Fino, a city of 30,000 people in the rich coffee producing region of Southeastern Brazil. Leaving the fields following a hard day of work, and still in their dirty clothes, workers gathered happily in front of the main building to receive their paycheck and to take home a package with basic food supplies. Known in Portuguese as Cesta Básica, this is one of the several constitutional rights that workers enjoy in Brazil. All 40 were called by name and one by one, they stepped forward to sign their receipt. The very same scene can be witnessed the first days of the month at every locally operated Brazilian farm that respects the labor rights — nothing extraordinary until you learn that this payroll was authorized in New York City. Nobletree Coffee is head- quartered in one of the most urban cities in the world in the world but its backyard is a peaceful plot of land 4,700 miles (7,500 kilometers) away, in Brazil. Multinational corporations exert great control over their supply chains but a verti- cally integrated business model for small roasters is a bold plan. Nobletree, a division of FAL Coffee, spent several years developing essential links in the chain to support its roasting operation. The company began with a roastery in Red Hook, Brooklyn and later added retail space and distribution. In 2013 Nobletree purchased Santa Izabela and established a milling and export operation. In October they plan a grand opening for a café inside the Oculus at the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. "In difficult times, betting on a project as complex as this could be madness, but the positive financial results from the farms are proof that we are moving in the right direction," explains the agribusiness director, Byron Holcomb. Holcomb, an American biologist with great deal of experience in coffee production was chosen to align opera- tions between New York and Brazil in a daily basis. His first step was to connect the farmers, roasters, and company baristas via Sky- pe calls, Whatsapp chats, and lots of emails that are exchanged every day to shorten the distance from soil to sip. In 2013 after the company bought Santa Izabel farm, Holcomb and his wife made the mountains of Minas Gerais their home. The main Nobletree Coffee The Journey from Soil to Sip Managing the entire length of a coffee chain is a business bet that is paying off for a Brooklyn roastery, its two farms, and mill and warehouse in Brazil and a coffee shop in the heart of New York City. Before moving to Brazil, Byron Hol- comb worked for Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters, Counter Culture Coffee, and Dallis Brothers Coffee A sea of 800,000 coffee plants is one of the working landscapes that Byron Holcomb has in a daily basis. He traded New York City for the peace of Minas Gerais, Brazil

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