Brotherly Love: How we got our Brazilian Single Origin to you / by Amanda Jones

One of the things that’s special about being able to have a single origin every month is being able to showcase the work of some of the most forward thinking and innovative individuals in the coffee business. Our September single origin, coming from the highlands of Brazil, was facilitated by our relationship with 3Brothers, located here in Sydney, in the not so high lands of Mosman. In a repurposed army hut on Middle Head, Tercio Borba connects Brazil to Australia and has been the key to our connection to Jhone Lacerda, the farmer of this month’s single origin.

While all the sources that 3Brothers acquire their coffee from are unique and have their individual benefits, for Tercio there’s something particularly special about the Santa Maria farm where Jhone and his family are located. 

“When you think of Brazil obviously you have that understanding of machinery, automated harvesting, everything in Brazil is so big, and then you get to Jhone and you see a micro milling, micro picking [operation].”

The approach that Jhone takes is distinct from other farms due to its small size and the flexibility that that allows. Jhone has also begun to experiment with new processing techniques that enhance the natural qualities of the bean, something that Tercio sees as particularly innovative.

“He actually builds the whole production from the cup, not which is totally not traditional, you don't normally have a farm that is production based on the cup profile.”

Connecting with farmers such as Jhone is why at Black Drum we’re partnering with 3Brothers, as their approach is one of recognizing the efforts that farmers put into their product, and communicating that with the consumer. 

Perhaps this unconventional approach comes from Tercio and brother Thiago’s own approach to coffee sourcing. Founded in rememberance of their third brother Gustavo, the company grew out of Tercio and Thiago’s bond in Australia and the product that kept them going in a new country: “making coffee, that's how I sustained myself when I came to this country,” recalls Tercio.

Inspired to move to Sydney and study English after reading about the city only briefly, “I read four five lines about Sydney and said, ‘I'm going.’ No logical thoughts, just pointed and said this is the city I need to go,” and Tercio has not looked back. After working as a barista Tercio and his brother knew what the next step was and over a beer 3Brothers was formed.

“That's how it all started,” notes Tercio, “On a piece of paper on a living room table in Narrabeen Beach.”

Just as the company was founded on a bond between brothers, Tercio endeavours to continue to build relationships to sustain the business. 

“In terms of us, sourcing was always focusing on the people that were truly engaged in producing quality.”

Having succeeded in bringing Brazilian specialty coffee to the Australian market largely through their own efforts, Tercio and Thiago have decided to pass on their knowledge of the consumer coffee market to growers who share their passion for micro-lot estates and extracting the best of a natural varietal. This has been conducted through Capraó Junior, part of the Federal Institute of Espirito Santo and works to give knowledge back to growers.

“We benefit probably twenty eight producers,” notes Tercio, “So they can get access to agronomists, that includes proper laboratorial assessment, management, follow up visits and reports all year round. So that's for us based on two things, knowledge and connecting these guys on a collective mindset.”

Unlike other traders or brokerages which seek to make a profit off the import and distribution of green coffee, Tercio likens the model of 3Brothers to innovative IT firms which have allowed access to their code, “[3Brothers] is a new model a new, a more open source platform.”

Fundamentally, however, this comes down to the attitude that 3Brothers bring to the coffee industry and that is one of mutual respect. While the go to moniker for high-end coffee is ‘specialty’, Tercio seeks to reintroduce the human element into this qualitative assessment of the commodity. 

“We're not here to define specialty, specialty is just the way you treat people, coffee, your customers,” highlights Tercio. This approach is why we’re excited to partner with 3Brothers to bring you our September single origin, Lacerda.