Female farmer spotlight: Andresa

“Hello my name is Andressa, I live in Campanha, Minas Gerais Estate. I work together with my mother Marcia at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida farm. My mother started working with her parents by the age of 9. Back then, they were having a lot of difficulties because they were a big family, with many children. As they didn’t have their own farm, they would weed someone else’s farms for a living.

Andresa and her family in 2015.

When she was 23, she got married and that’s when her life got a little better because my father already had his own coffee plantation. My mother then started helping him out instead of working for others. Today ,we have our own property, where we produce specialty coffees. In 2011 my father started suffering of depression. It got so bad to the point that he really wanted to sell our piece of ground. My mother took the front of everything in order not to see it happen. She went far and beyond and would do whatever she needed to do not to sell our little farm, she would ask him every day not to sell it. After a while, my father’s health got better and he finally resumed his activities. I Andresa have lived at the farm since I was born. At 2 years old I did not like going to day care, I cried not to go, and my mother, seeing that, decided to take me to the coffee fields with her. She would put a cloth on me to protect me from the sun and another one for me to be able to lie under the coffee trees. I would play and sleep while she worked because she had no one to leave me with. Seeing my mother doing all the services over time, I fell in love with coffee.

Since I was 15 years old, I have my own coffee plot at the farm. I take care of it and make tests to improve quality along with everything I learned from my mother about harvesting, drying, post-harvesting and handling. I have been taking courses to improve knowledge and apply it properly. In 2018, I decided experiment with coffee fermentation. I washed the coffee removing all the impurities and separating the buoy, leaving only the cherry beans. It was about 8 beacons of coffee. I put it inside 3 plastic drums for 72 hours with a fruit that I really like, the “cajá-mango”, an acidic fruit. The drum always remained closed at all times without any air intake. After 72 hours I took it out of the drum and took it to the suspended terrace, to let it dry slowly. After drying, I took it to a cupping expert and to my happiness my coffee scored 87 points, with notes of yellow fruits, I was able to sell it to a cafeteria.

In 2018 our Association APAS (Alto da Serra Producers’ Association) started the Flowers in Action project (Flores em Ação), where only women participate. Marcelo from Minas Hill in Australia supported our project since the beginning and he has been buying the coffee of several producers and bringing it to Australia. He added a lot of value to our coffee, even though the crisis, when our producing costs were very high and coffee prices were very low. It encourages us even more. Our project has a lot of members today, each year working in different ways to produce quality coffees and evolve in the right way. Seeing all this happening I decided to work hard to produce my coffee this year. With a lot of effort I managed to do the same fermentation process I did back in 2018. My mom Marcia also made a differentiated coffee with very slow drying. It was not fermented, but a very good coffee, her micro-lot will be in Australia too. That was an incentive for us because I see that our work and our willpower is working, it makes me want to do it every year and always wanting to improve.”

Andresa and other female farmers at APAS – Alto da Serra Producers’ Association in 2019.


*Text credits: Tina Wendel, from 23 Degrees.