The Borré Family

We have been featuring coffees produced by the Borré family since we first visited their estate in 2015. Each year since, we have been consistently impressed with their meticulous and progressive approach to coffee production, which results in incredible cleanliness and longevity in the cup profile.

The Borrés are the influential family behind Fazenda Progresso, a beautiful farm nestled in the Chapada Diamantina mountain range in the heart of Bahia. The farm sits on a plateau at 1,150m above sea level and is surrounded by the Chapada Diamantina National Park, known for its mountainous cliff formations (Chapada) and 19th-century diamond mining (Diamantina).

The history of the farm dates back to 1984 when the Borré family migrated from Southern Brazil to the northeast and purchased some land in the municipality of Ibicoara, near the town of Mucugê. In the early years, the family tried growing crops such as soybeans, wheat and English potatoes. The potatoes turned out to be an incredibly successful crop, stimulating investments and making the family one of the largest producers of potatoes in Bahia.

In 2005, the Borré family sought to diversify the activities on their land and quickly recognised that the high elevations, plentiful rainfall, and rich soil found on their property were ideal for the production of specialty coffee. The family’s youngest son, Fabiano Borré, spearheaded the coffee program, investing in state-of-the-art infrastructure and agricultural practices to ensure they could produce the very highest quality coffee possible. Fabiano has surrounded himself with an exceptional team and sought advice from some of the most respected professionals in the field, including Silvio Leite, founder of the Cup of Excellence and president of the Brazil Specialty Association, who has over 30 years of experience in coffee grading, tasting and quality control.

Today, some 530 hectares of the property are dedicated to coffee. This land is divided up into different plots and processed separately, using Fazenda Progresso’s meticulously designed infrastructure. Over the last decade, Fabiano has continued to experiment and invest in equipment and processes that will improve the quality of his coffee. He has implemented a robust quality control program and dedicated quality control lab with a talented cupping team headed up by Ednaldo Nascimento who has worked with Progresso since 2010. This focus on quality was rewarded the first time Progresso entered coffee into the Cup of Excellence competition in 2015 and placed 15th – a fantastic achievement and testament to the hard work, resources, and focus that has been put into producing exceptional coffee. They also went on to place 20th in the 2017 Cup of Excellence.

The Borré’s motto is ‘Mindful Coffee’. This describes their commitment to acting mindfully and ensuring that their family values and vision (that centre around excellence, innovation, and environmental and social responsibility) are informing every decision they make and defining how they do business.

Fazenda Progresso’s people and their welfare are enormously important to the Borré family, and they take great care to create an excellent work environment for their staff. Buses are provided to and from work, and clean and welcoming lunch facilities and bathrooms are also provided. The staff also receive insurance, protective wear, sunscreen and biannual health check-ups by a resident doctor. Additionally, the family offers financial support to a local school that is located in the village next to the farm, are making strides to build tourism in Mucugê, and working closely with the state government to get the region recognised for its agricultural excellence.

Caring for the environment is a core value for the Borré family, who take great care to protect and preserve the ecological health of their area. Water is sourced from a nearby lake and is carefully conserved, with meteorological stations positioned throughout the farm to monitor the nutritional needs of each plot and ensure that only the correct amount of water and nutritional inputs are dispensed to them through a pivot irrigation system — thereby optimising irrigation and minimising waste. Coffee pulp from processing is composted (along with potato wastage, which is very high in potassium and great for coffee trees) and used to fertilise trees throughout the plantation. In recent years, the Borrés have begun harvesting beneficial bacteria and microorganisms from the farm and cultivating them in bioreactors, to be used as naturally derived fertilisers and pesticides in place of chemical inputs. As further proof of their commitment to environmental sustainability, 75% of the property is preserved as native land, well above the national minimum of 20%.

The Borré family business has always been managed and directed by family members and is now in its third generation of operation. You can read an interview with Fabiano Borré here.