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José Maria de Oliveira


José Maria comes from a deep rooted history of coffee tradition. As a boy, his grandfather had a small coffee farm where his father and uncles use to work. José has many great memories of picking cherries beside his family and playing around the coffee trees with his grandfather. At the age of 7 José’s family fell on hard times and they had no choice but to move to another part of the region and leave their home and farm behind in order to survive by working on different coffee farms.

At age 17, José Maria, in the pursuit of a better life, he moved to the city of Belo Horizonte. His first job outside of coffee was as a ticket collector for the city bus line. His big break didn’t come until later, when he began working inside of a pharmacy in hope of being able to earn a better living for his family. He eventually climbed the ranks and become a sales representative. In that position José learned 2 valuable lessons, the importance of being organized, and understanding at any level everything has a process. Eventually the realization set in with José, he could never stop thinking about Campos Altos. He always pondered to himself, how can the coffee in Campos Altos be so blessed? From that moment forward he made it his mission to one day have a piece of land in Campos Altos to live and grow coffee. He then moved home and fell in love with his wife Ebe, who’s family history was identical to Josés. Ebe’s family comes from a deep lineage of coffee pickers as well.

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First he bought the hat, later the boots, then the pick up truck, and finally the day arrived in 2004, he acquired a small piece of land that is known today as Fazenda Serrinha. Since the beginning, all he ever wanted was to bring recognition to his city and tell the world about the coffees from Campos Altos.

There was a moment José almost gave up farming and coffee all together. Constantly feeling the pressure from brokers and traders to always drag him to the absolute lowest price for his coffee, and never seeing a result in his sacrifices, it nearly ended it all.

In 2014, full of persistence not to quit, he built his own dry mill in order to not depend on any external facilities, plus to ensure his family's future by focusing only on quality and maximum traceability of his coffee back to his farm. One year later, he opened Cafe Campos Altos-Coffee Export in Brazil and Our Coffees in Northern California. A true vertically Integrated model without any supply chain intermediaries. California was the first place outside of Brazil to test his efforts. People were really surprised,  it was uncommon to ever see a coffee farmer going so far by himself. This is more than direct trade, it is a direct relationship because the farmer is handling all the risk and the full import/export responsibility to bring his coffee abroad.

Because of his frequent presence in California, his exposure and relationships to the most knowledgeable coffee experts in the industry, it opened his eyes to a new world of innovation. First, it was the honey process, later eco washed coffees under controlled fermentation, and raised African drying beds. The quality started catching up, and soon after they started to produce coffees that were scoring 90 points and above. From that point forward, he was a believer and promised to do whatever it takes to focus all his efforts on producing only the highest quality specialty coffees.


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Our Coffees

The relationship between Jose and his team is another chapter of the story. To him, they are all an extension of his family. He’s a strong believer in higher wages and providing a brighter future to his workers and their families. The core foundation of Our Coffees is being able to provide wages that will deliver a higher quality of life, while providing the opportunity to put their kids through college. José is extremely happy to see his daughter Nathalia and his son-in law Ronaldo follow in the family tradition and carry it on for generations. In the storied history of Brazilian coffee, José Maria is determined to alter the paradigm of Brazilian coffee, and to do so for its farmers.