Booyakasha! I am here with none other than Augusto Dias Carneiro, a Brazilian sixth-generation farm owner, who came to the U.S. back in the 90s to bring his home grown coffee to the market. This is how Nossa Familia, the company that we all know started. I met up with Augusto right before he took a group of yankees to his farm in Brazil to make them work hard for capirinhas, and to show what it takes to produce some “quality” beans.
V. Hi Augusto! I know it is a delicate question, but why did you start bringing Americans to work on your coffee farm? Is it one of the ways to promote your brand?
C. Laughs… It is combined, but primarily it’s for fun. Doing tours is one of the possibilities for me to go to Brazil more often. I guess I have always wanted to show off what my family does, and this is one way of making it come true. This is the 4th time that I am taking a group from the States to Brazil, and it has been a great success.
Last year for example, we were harvesting coffee amongst the people at the farm. They wanted to know what these gringos did back home. We had a doctor with us, and the farmers were so shocked and impressed that an American doctor came to harvest coffee along their side. It really makes farmers proud of the work that they do.
V. We all start something, somewhere, sometime. How did you start your successful business here in the U.S.?
C. I came to study in the U.S. back in 1996 and graduated with a mechanical engineering degree. It took me three years before I realized that it wasn’t my cup of tea, and started looking for other possibilities. My family has this beautiful coffee farm with this rich tradition of around 120 years, and I grew up around it.
I thought it would be really fun to showcase what we do in Brazil. With the help of my cousin Gabriel, I brought back 75 pounds of roasted coffee, and got really good feedback here in Portland, so I thought “Wow! Maybe we have something here.”
Later, I was able to make a handshake agreement with my grandpa at the farm, and he allowed me to bring in a whole container under the condition that I would pay my family back in about a year. I think I was able to pay it off in about 14 months, which is just a bit longer, but everybody was happy that it worked. From there on, we grew to what we are today.
V. Did you have somebody roast the beans for you when you started out in America?
C. Sure! A big part of my success was due to having a local partnership with a roaster here in Portland because we didn’t have to acquire all the equipment and roaster “know-how” for many years. We grew the company with our partner roaster for many years, but since last year, however, we roast our own coffee. We have a state-of-the-art Loring roasting machine, so now we are pretty much completely a seeds-to-cup coffee company!
V. Oh, ya! I heard about this nice rig that everyone is talking about – Loring. Gimme the details.
C. Yeah, we really really love our Loring. You know Loring was a new piece of equipment at a time, and it wasn’t yet that well known when I started researching what equipment I would put in. However, once I read about how it worked and the engineering behind it – I think maybe because of my engineering background- I fell in love with it instantly. At first glance it appears to cost more than other conventional roasters, but the reality is that it comes with an afterburner, scale, loading cart and elevator, all of which are worth tens of thousands of dollars if you buy them separately: also not to mention the fuel efficiency of the Loring.
So then I needed to know if it roasted coffee well. So I actually flew down to the plant to see how it was made and where it was made. Then I had some of my green beans roasted in a Loring at a place that had one, and they turned out great. In the end we are extremely happy with our Loring.
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Portland, Oregon 97209