To find out how to get the most from Brazilian coffee, both as a barista and a coffee roaster, we asked Martha Grill for advice. Martha is the 2019 Brazilian Barista Champion and was a semifinalist in that year’s World Barista Championship.
Martha initially trained as an actress. She fell into the coffee industry after she was injured and needed another job to help pay the bills. Coffee quickly became her obsession and within less than a year she began competing, taking second place in the Brazilian Barista championships on her first attempt in 2017.
For most of her coffee career Martha worked behind the bar, as a head barista and as a barista trainer. Last year she moved to the countryside and began working at Minamihara, an organic coffee farm in Alta Mogiana. She roasts and evaluates all the farm’s coffees in their onsite roastery and develops the farm’s ‘seed to cup’ projects, which include agrotourism experiences, barista training, and a planned coffee shop.
At Minamihara, the team also works with other farms in the community to help commercialise their coffees, and to this end they recently established the first dry mill and warehouse in Brazil dedicated entirely to nano- and microlots.
As a barista, Martha is excited by the potential in Brazil for high-quality, naturally processed coffees. Brazilian naturals suffered from a poor reputation for many years, particularly since the natural process was the method of choice for underripe, overripe, and defective fruit. When processed carefully, however, natural coffees can be a striking expression of terroir, Martha says.
‘[Minamihara] produces only naturals. We don’t wash or induce fermentation in any of our coffees, in order to preserve the terroir,’ Martha says. After years of organic, shade-grown coffee production, the farm has developed a distinctive microbiome, she says, that has a big impact on the flavour of the coffee.