Truly adventurous coffee explorations are still rare birds even in a food city like ours, but next week will see another brave stab at the intriguing intersections between coffee and fine dining.
'Dallis Coffee' on Serious Eats
When we last saw our coffee, it'd been picked and sorted, pitted and dried, rested and roasted. Now? It's time to make a cup of coffee. For that, we'll take you back down to Brazil. For maximum enjoyment, we'd leave you to the eminently capable hands pictured above: those of award-winning barista Silvia Magalhães at Octavio's São Paulo cafe. But first? We're doing a cupping.
We last saw our coffee beans—picked, sifted, cleaned, seperated, shelled, dried, and sorted—back in the processing plant. But in order to turn those green beans into the black, crunchy coffee beans you think of, there's one more step: roasting. That's where Dallis Coffee comes in.
Step out of a car at Octavio's processing plant and you're instantly hit with the smell: toasty, warm, nutty, like a peach pit drying in the Georgia sun. It's the smell of drying coffee beans—also, of course, the seeds of a fruit. But how they go from soft cherries to green, dry beans is quite an involved process.
If this online media thing doesn't work out, I'm moving to Brazil as a coffee harvester. At least, that's what went through my head after a morning stripping cherries from the coffee trees of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida farm outside Pedregulho, Brazil. It's hard labor, if not back-breaking; an hour in the fields certainly left this reasonably fit author in a sweat. But the elegance with which expert pickers fill sacks of Skittle-rainbowed coffee beans makes their work seem at least as much art as chore. (The verdant postcard views and piercing 70-degree winter sun certainly wouldn't hurt, either.)
I'm willing to bet that, unless you're from a tropical area or have taken some effort to educate yourself, you have trouble envisioning just where coffee comes from. (And I include myself, as of a few years ago, in that group.) So I jumped at the chance to spend a few days in the heart of the coffee harvest, with Octavio Café and Dallis Coffee, down in the endless coffee fields of Pedregulho, Brazil—picking coffee fruit, pulling out the beans, seeing how they're sorted and dried and milled and roasted and, ultimately, brewed up into the black stuff that wakes you up in the morning.