Brazil, Lelano Oliveira
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Candied hazelnuts, vanilla, guava with spicy aroma
The path to good coffee starts with something that can’t be grown. And that’s a passion and love for the coffee bean. And Doña Lelena surely has that – she has been farming coffee for over 67 years now!
Sebastiana de Oliveira Faria or Lelena was born in 1947 and started working on her family’s coffee farm at the age of 9 when her father was injured and could no longer work in the fields. She bought her first coffee farm when she was 32 and continued to run the business single-handedly until today. Lelena is always the first one to wake up in the morning and take off to check on the crop.
At 74 years old, Lelena is still working on her property along with her children, grandchildren and a brother. Many producers travel to her farm to learn how she achieves such high-quality results.
Empowering more women to run coffee farms
The reputation of the Serra do Caparaó as a producing region continues to grow through the unique coffee profile it produces.
Back in the day, there were no proper structures set up: cherries were picked by hand into hampers, transported by a donkey cart to the drying patios and the coffee washer was a big hole in the ground with the bottom pounded to harden the foundations. The drying patio was a dirt track covered with cow manure and ashes from the wood stove.
The humidity of the coffee was measured by testing 20 peeled grains: they poked the centre of each grain with the sharp side of the knife. If every grain jumped a far distance it meant the beans were dry.
There have since been many changes. The coffee farm Sítio Moinho Grande has over 16 thousand coffee trees growing at the average altitude of 1,250 meters. The property has a drying structure made of a greenhouse, a stone patio and African raised beds. Lelena installed a pulper in 2015 to ensure only the best quality of processing her crop.
Lelena won first place in a coffee quality competition for Minas Gerais region and earned herself a medal celebrating the “Entrepreneurial Women of the Year” in 2017. In 2019, she was awarded the Eduardo Frieiro Trophy that honors people contributing to the development and recognition of food culture of Minas Gerais.
With the competitions often being dominated by male producers, Lelena has garnered much attention.
She is an inspiration for many young women growers to pursue coffee farming as a passion and a career.