THE STORY OF MIRIAM MONTEIRO DE AGUIAR – CACHOEIRA COFFEES, BRAZIL

Rogério, my husband, a natural musician, became a passionate organic coffee producer. We had three daughters. They like art, music, and young people - like everybody around the same age.

My name is Miriam Monteiro de Aguiar. I’m 53 years old. I was born in a very small town named Santo Antonio do Amparo, in the Campos das Vertentes region, on the southern border of Minas Gerais state in Brazil.

My personal history has been always related to coffee. I had a happy childhood on a coffee farm living togetherwith local people and studying at the public schoolin our village. The ripe coffee beans have beenpart of my memories since I was about ten and swam in the coffee tanks. It was all about coffee – especially during the harvesting season,when the work would last till late hours.

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When I was 14, I had the opportunity to leave the village and move to my uncle’s home to study. Years laterI graduated in Sociology and came back home to work in the Rural Development Project of our farm and surroundings. My father, 91 years old now, was a pioneer in growing quality coffee and has always been highly passionateabout learning and sharing his experiences. I learned so much from him!In a traditional society, having an only child – and especially a female one – would sound very unpromising to a parent. But not to my father. He always encouraged me to study, travel and learn as much as I could.

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Fortunately – or luckily enough – this story took place in a region where the climate and altitude are perfect to produce high quality coffee. The altitude there is about 1,000 meters, and the annual precipitation index accounts for 1,500mm. Such perfect conditions are found inastunning landscape that alternates lavishing green mountains and plateaus.

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In 1989 I married a musician from São Paulo, the biggest and most populous city in Brazil. Three years later,we moved from São Paulo to Cachoeira Farm and dedicated ourselves to cultivating organic coffee. Rogério, my husband, a natural musician, became a passionate organic coffee producer.  We had three daughters. They like art, music, and young people – like everybody around the same age. Our “Milennium girls” were  born in 1994, 2000, and 2007.  As an old Brazilian saying goes, “ the apple doesn´t fall far from the tree”. For our own happiness and satisfaction, our children are very concerned about environmental, sustainable,and gender issues. Looking ahead at the future considering our daughters’ insightful perspectives makes our challenges bigger and at the same time more exciting.

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We are aware of the fact that, in order to keep our business growing, we must abide by some principles:   respect for our ownhistory, maintaining the soil alive, preserving water, stimulating and supporting bio and social diversity with equanimity.

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Acting for two years as a president of ACOB – the Brazilian Organic Coffee Association – I’ve beengiven the opportunity to expand my vision on coffee sustainability ina more embracing fashion. That also involves networking to build common grounds in sustainability in the coffee chain, taking the producers’ and the industry views into account.

Our ACOB projects are focused on sustainable practices in coffee production and educational coffee quality training for farmers, prioritizing the women participation. In a nearfuture, through the ACOB project,we expectto reach the following goals:

– Creating new opportunities for women in coffee plantations, making them more inclusive;
– Demonstrating and disseminating advances in sustainable and organic coffee production practices through measurable criteria;
– Finding partners in the coffee industry to develop long term business alliances.

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I strongly believe that the quality education in specialty coffee production is a developmental tool that can be translated into better social conditions, knowledge, and better coffee flavors for our pleasure. I also truly believe in the power of thisspecial and magic seed of connecting and gathering coffee growers around a common sustainability agenda.

*Miriam Monteiro de Aguiar runs Cachoeira Coffees.  She is in charge of producing Specialty Organic Coffees with her family at Cachoeira Farm and is also a IWCA Brazil Director and ACOBs President.

Goals For This Project