Expedition to Brazil
Manveer Singh traveled to several coffee-producing areas of the world to research and learn more about the production process. He reflects on his trip to Brazil in 2016 and how it affected his outlook on the direction of Maharajah Coffee.
My travels took me to the region of Espirito Santo in Brazil, and I was amazed by the coffee and farmers there. When I first arrived at the coffee farm, I thought I had made a mistake and that it was a winery because of the way it looked, but the aroma was much too strong to be a winery–it was indeed the smell of coffee, and I was in the right place.
I saw farmers carrying 100-pound bags on their backs in the hot, dry weather. This was clearly harvest season. The farmers saw me, knowing I was a tourist with my bag covered in different countries’ flags and my camera. One farmer shouted, “Oi!” to acknowledge me and welcome me to the farm. The farmer then came over to speak with me; he was tall with an Indiana Jones hat and introduced himself as Ernesto.
Ernesto showed me all around the farm and introduced me to their processes: sun drying the coffee, washing the beans, then drying them again. I saw how they grow the coffee trees, then eventually cut them down and grow new trees. This was a fascinating process, but very hard work, and I have a lot of respect for the farmers. I had even more respect for them after learning that not only was their work back-breaking, it was also difficult to earn a decent living.
A farmer friend of Ernesto told me about the unfair coffee brokerage practices he has experienced, which keeps him from receiving fair pay for the coffee his farm produces. He was visibly saddened to tell me that sometimes he doesn’t have enough to pay his employees, and Ernesto mentioned he encounters the same problem. Ernesto’s workers sometimes have to wait until the following month for him to be able to pay their wages.
On this trip, I firmly decided that Maharajah Coffee would work directly with farmers instead of having a third party, or broker. I saw it as an equal opportunity for both myself and the farmers: if they succeed, so do I, and when I turn around and give back to the farmers, the pattern continues and everyone benefits. When the farmers don’t have to worry about how they will make a living, they can grow their coffee with love. When coffee is produced with love, you can taste it in every sip. I hope that you will be able to taste the love in Maharajah Coffee.
- Manveer Singh