Yesterday, for the first time in years, I drank a little bit of coffee. You can’t sit in the office of a Richmond-based Brazilian UTZ-certified coffee company and not, can you? It tasted wonderful, and my stomach survived.
I was introduced to Cristina Dias of Mogiana Coffee Company by my friend Mary, who was gifted a bag of their beans several years ago and fell in love. Seeing as they’re based out of Richmond, she suggested I go chat with Cristina and hear about Mogiana’s impressive history. I brought along my good friend Shane, who’s in town for a few days and very capable of drinking a full cup of coffee.
Established in 1890, the Dias’ Cachoeira Farm lies in the heart of Brazil’s best coffee producing area. Their fertile land has had five generations of farmers caring for it, ensuring its sustainability for over a century. This was a priority for them far before sustainability became a catch-phrase, and they’ve continued to care for the native forests on their land, plant thousands of new trees each year, and hand-pick their coffee beans in order to maintain the plantation’s low CO2 emissions.
Workers at Cachoeira live with their families in a village on the farm, some going back three generations. All are provided with homes, and children receive their education in a school built on land donated by Cristina’s family; over 300 children attend daily, some of which come from neighbouring communities.
When asked if their coffee is fair-trade, Cristina says “no, we’re actually family-trade.” Mogiana’s beans are harvested by people she knows and trusts, and who prioritize both environmental and social responsibility. They’re also UTZ-certified, which is one of the world’s largest sustainability programs for coffee, tea, and cocoa. No bitter beans here, people.
And the taste? Cachoeira specializes in growing a rare type of Arabica bean called Bourbon, which is known to be full-bodied, aromatic, and incredibly smooth. The coffee cherries are hand-picked, and dried in the open sun on the farm’s large patios.
There’s also some serious machines (with lasers!) that separate poor quality beans from the rest before they’re shipped worldwide to be roasted.
Mogiana currently offers four varieties – French Roast, Espresso Roast, Brazilian Organic, and Decaf – and sell in a variety of coffee shops and stores throughout the lower mainland. In Richmond, you can find their coffee at Tapenade Bistro, Diva’s Coffee, The Market at Papi’s, Espresso Tec, and the Steveston Farmers Market on September 30th. They also sell at a number of places in Vancouver, including Whole Foods.
We took them down to the dock, and setup on a bench dedicated “In loving memory to Captain Tolias Capadouca.”
The fish and chips were awesome (Captain Capadouca would have approved) and came with the best tartar sauce I’ve had in Steveston so far.
The meal wasn’t cheap (it came to just under $20), but the pieces of fish were a decent size and the fries looked hand-cut.
They were eaten in the sunshine, with a view of the water, while discussing recent episodes of This American Life. A fine lunch indeed.
On our way home we stopped in at Urban Edibles, a small farm which a few people have suggested I visit.
We met Allan, the owner, and walked around to see the flowers and organic vegetables they grow on a two acre parcel of land off the Steveston Highway.
As well as their produce and flowers, they offer garden consulting services. You can learn how to build and install raised planters to grow your own food year-round.
They have a charming little lean-to shop at the front of the farm, where they sell Urban Edible’s produce as well as some from neighbouring farms.
I bought a few pounds of concord grapes that were grown in Richmond; they were so intensely flavoured it was like eating an entire bunch in a single bite. If you’re having a dinner party, put these out on the table with dessert. I guarantee your friends will think you’re a rockstar.
Thanks to Cristina and Allan for sharing their incredible work, and to Shane for trekking around with me for an entire afternoon. Not all Thursdays involve coffee education, fish and chips, Captain Capadouca, and concord grapes, but I’m pretty glad ours did.
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