Open to customers and visitors, the new Ipanema Coffees’ cupping room and quality control laboratory are much more than just a place for tasting the specialty coffees produced and exported to 28 countries by the three farms located in the cities of Alfenas and Conceição do Rio Verde in the south of the state of Minas Gerais. Endowed with an exclusive architecture, the project has an audacious and innovative design, and sinthesizes Ipanema’s daily mission of linking the operational excellence of their processes to environmental conservation. Designed to require minimum resources, the construction expresses the sustainability principles practiced on the farms – reduce, reuse and recycle. The reuse of containers, the use of photovoltaic cells and the reuse of woods from coffee plantations, among other initiatives, make the quality control lab and the cupping room a model of innovation and sustainability on the field (the video with the construction of the new Coffee Quality Control Room can be seen on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5rF-HoNXWA).
“In addition to the control and monitoring center of coffee processing, the Coffee Quality Control room is the main meeting point of customers and visitors from several countries, who have the opportunity to test countless coffee possibilities and create products and solutions for specific demands. Our goal with this new space was to make customers not only have a unique cupping experience of our coffees, but also testify the concern we have, in each detail, related to the harmony between the production processes and the environment”, says Washington Rodrigues, CEO of Ipanema Coffees.
The initial challenge of the 2,153 ft² (200 m2) building, located on Conquista farm, in the city of Alfenas, was the use of seven containers, summing up 27 metric tons of steel turned into a sole structure with differentiated spaces. Despite the fact that these containers can last more than 100 years, they are in general discarded after 20 years of use, and many times abandoned at ports due to their high cost of recycling. With this construction technique, it was possible to save 180 metric tons of resources, such as water, sand, gravel, cement and iron, in addition to reducing construction debris from 21 to 4.6 metric tons.
The 26.25 ft (8 m²) facade, totally made of glass, ensures natural light inside. Through the window we can see the coffee drying, processing and farming, which allow customers to enjoy a vast view of the farm and have a complete cupping experience.
To reduce energy consumption, twelve photovoltaic panels have been installed, which generate 70% of the energy needed, that is, around 490 kWh per month. As the system is connected to the electric power system, it is possible to deduct the surplus generated and not consumed from the electric bill. Besides, every room is equipped with LED lamps. To reach a more effective solution from the acoustic and termal point of view – considering that, in general, a container makes the internal environment warmer – as well as reduce the possibility of warm air getting into it and the use of air conditioners, the internal wall coating has been made with PET thermal-acoustic insulation. Linked to the green roofs, this technique can reduce internal temperature in 42.8°F (6°C). All the water discarded is treated by a simple and effective anaerobic biodigester of low maintenance.
The cupping tables have been made of wood from 45-year-old coffee tree trunks cut as part of the plantation natural renewal; reclaimed wood, rainwater harvesting and bricks recovered from old constructions compose the set of details of its modern and sustainable design. Even the “spitting” process – traditional among coffee tasters – has been rethought: the liquids that are left are used in recycling and the solids reused in the garden as fertilizer.
Respecting the value of natural resources, the project spared altogether 280 tons of building materials, avoided the production of 16 tons of debris and reducing CO2 emissions by 98 tons in 20 years.
During coffee harvest season – from April to September – more than 500 cups are tested in the Cupping Room in a single day. On average, two hundred thousand bags are analyzed per year. Ipanema’s quality specialists divide coffee into lots, considering characteristics such as size, aspect and color. Roasting analysis is made in diverse types of the drink preparation.
“It is a sophisticated alchemy, conducted in a differentiated manner by the Ipanema’s Q Graders team so that each detail represents innovation and quality, therefore customers and visitors have no doubt that each coffee bean from Ipanema is, in fact, a high-quality specialty coffee”, says Washington Rodrigues.
Pioneerism and innovation
The new place expresses the pioneering spirit and innovation that follow Ipanema since the beginning of its production in 1969. Pioneer in specialty coffee in Brazil, Ipanema celebrated, in 2016, 25 years exporting to 28 countries. Ipanema has a total of 14 million coffee trees planted on three farms – Conquista and Capoeirinha, in Alfenas, and Rio Verde, in Conceição do Rio Verde.
An example of this focus on innovation becomes evident today on Rio Verde farm, imbedded in Serra da Mantiqueira, a mountain ridge, where the harmony between the production system and the natural resources management achieved strict technical standards. The development of an Environmental Monitoring Center allows integrated management, analysis and monitoring of factors related to water, soil, vegetation, climate and residues with the aim of continuously searching for a balanced management between agricultural production system and natural resources conservation. The goal of Fábrica de Águas Project, name given to the set of initiatives related to the use and conservation of natural resources, is to reclaim and protect the property’s springs with its 51 headsprings and 773 hectares of conservation areas. Among the projects, there is also a laboratory of native seedling production, capable of producing 14,000 trees of more than 80 native species per year.
Observatories have been created, as well as trails among them so in addition to the coffee farming and the magnificent view, it is possible to know the vast biome of Mantiqueira highlands, including native species.
Thinking of increasing Ipanema’s coffee qualities array, an experimental coffee ground, Coffee Garden, was planted in 2016 in partnership with renowned agronomic and technological research institutes, such as Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC), Empresa de Pesquisa Agropecuária de Minas Gerais (EPAMIG) and Fundação Procafé; 10,000 coffee trees of 48 different varieties have been tested in a specific environment on Rio Verde farm, aiming exclusively at differentials of bean quality.
The video with the construction of the new Coffee Quality Control Room can be seen on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5rF-HoNXWA.
About Ipanema Coffees
Ipanema Coffees is among the most renowned specialty coffee producers in the international market, and their work is guided by innovation, long-term relationships and consistency in their production and trade of specialty coffees for importers, coffee roasters and coffee shops. With 14 million trees planted on three farms in the south of the State of Minas Gerais – Rio Verde, Conquista and Capoeirinha – Ipanema offers seven labels – Reserve, Bourbon, Ouro Preto, Gourmet, Espresso, Conquista and Dulce – and countless possibilities provided by their production areas, tailoring products as well as packaging and traceability unique solutions for each customer.
Based on processes focused on innovation, which result in operational excellence and consistency in production and commercialization, Ipanema develops long-term relationships with their customers. Due to the specialty coffee consumption around the world, their strategy is to invest in important local players from several countries. Therefore, Ipanema conquers more and more markets in Europe, the United States, Australia, Russia, Japan and Sourth Korea, among others.
Pioneer in Brazil in specialty coffee export, Ipanema Coffees celebrates, in 2017, 26 years of external market presence, taking the highest quality coffees to 28 countries, and summing up, at the end of this period, 2.0 million bags – each bag weighs 132 pounds (60 kg). Innovative techniques and equipment continuously improve their processes and products to take the best to the external market. Every stage of the production chain ensures the highest quality: ideal level of cherry ripening, harvest method, lot classification, container loading, and delivery to end customers. Micro-lots and exclusive blends come alive from the monitoring of the bean quality during the whole milling process and the meticulous analysis of the tasting profile.