Black Farmers in Brazil Changing Views on Coffee Production

Many in Brazil still associate coffee production with slavery. Douglas Magno / AFP
Many in Brazil still associate coffee production with slavery. Douglas Magno / AFP
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Black Farmers in Brazil Changing Views on Coffee Production

Many in Brazil still associate coffee production with slavery. Douglas Magno / AFP
Many in Brazil still associate coffee production with slavery. Douglas Magno / AFP

Raphael Brandao beams with pride as he describes the high-end Brazilian coffee he produces with beans sourced exclusively from Black farmers in a country where many still associate the product with slavery.
The 31-year-old buys his coffee beans solely from farms owned by Afro-descendents and says his goal is to "reverse this logic that Black people" like himself "are mere laborers”.
"In my own way, I am trying to make historical reparations," Brandao told AFP at his roastery in Nova Iguacu, a poor suburb of Rio de Janeiro.
Four years ago, he launched his brand Cafe di Preto.
By 2022 he sold 800 kilograms (about 1,700 pounds), the following year 1.4 tons. This year he hopes to increase that to more than two tons following a 20-percent sales increase in the first quarter alone.
The logo for Cafe di Preto is a raised Black fist clutching a coffee branch, and the different flavor lines are each named after important Black women of Brazilian history.
Brazil was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888, and racial inequalities remain high in a country where more than half of people identify as "preto" (Black) or mixed-race.
'Changing the world'
He is also seeking to "break the stigma that Black people do not produce quality."
"So my work also gives light to this," he said. "Today I have six coffees produced by Black people, all of them... of great quality."
Many of his clients, he added, are looking for quality but also for a product that is "changing the world."
Brandao is a leader in the so-called Black Business wave in Brazil that promotes commerce among people of African descent as a tool for social progress.
At first, he had trouble finding Black suppliers given that the overwhelming majority of coffee plantations in Brazil still belong to white families.
"My black suppliers are the first generation to produce on their own land, often only a few hectares," he said.
And Brandao has more than once had to defend his chosen crusade.
"I am sometimes asked: 'What if it was the opposite, if roasteries owned by whites bought coffee from white farmers?' But isn't that what is happening already?"
From farm to cup
About 500 kilometers (311 miles) from Nova Iguacu is the 19-hectare (47-acre) coffee plantation of Neide Peixoto, one of Brandao's first suppliers.
"I have been in contact with coffee since childhood. My parents worked in crops and I often accompanied them," Peixoto, 49, told AFP on her farm in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, a mecca for coffee production.
Unlike her parents, she grows coffee on land that belongs to her own family, bought by her husband and brothers who are also former laborers.
"It means a lot to me to be a Black producer of special coffee, because... we, Black people, have a very difficult and painful history," Peixoto said.
Most of the farm's production is for export, but the beans reserved for Cafe di Preto have a special significance for Peixoto.
"It's exciting to know that the coffee I produce, which is coffee produced by Black people, is also roasted by Black people," she said.
"I'm very happy to know that we are making this connection, from production here on the farm to the cup."



NASA Calls Off Astronauts' ISS Spacewalk Over 'Spacesuit Discomfort'

FILE PHOTO: The NASA logo is seen at Kennedy Space Center ahead of the NASA/SpaceX launch of a commercial crew mission to the International Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The NASA logo is seen at Kennedy Space Center ahead of the NASA/SpaceX launch of a commercial crew mission to the International Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo
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NASA Calls Off Astronauts' ISS Spacewalk Over 'Spacesuit Discomfort'

FILE PHOTO: The NASA logo is seen at Kennedy Space Center ahead of the NASA/SpaceX launch of a commercial crew mission to the International Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The NASA logo is seen at Kennedy Space Center ahead of the NASA/SpaceX launch of a commercial crew mission to the International Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo

NASA said a "spacesuit discomfort issue" forced the cancellation of a planned spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) by two US astronauts on Thursday, roughly an hour before their repair mission was poised to begin.
NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Matt Dominick, two of the orbiting laboratory's six US astronauts, donned their spacesuits early on Thursday morning in preparation for a roughly six-hour trek outside the ISS for routine repairs and a science mission, as shown on a NASA live stream.
As other US crewmembers prepped the two astronauts inside the station's Quest airlock - the exit module separating the station's interior from the vacuum of space - NASA astronaut Mike Barratt asked flight controllers in Houston for a private communications line to discuss a medical issue.
Minutes later a NASA spokeswoman speaking on the live stream said "today's spacewalk will not be proceeding as planned."
"The spacewalk today, June 13, at the International Space Station did not proceed as scheduled due to a spacesuit discomfort issue," NASA later said on its website.
The spacewalk mission was poised to be NASA's 90th in the space station's 23-year history, and the second this year. It would have been the fourth spacewalk for Dixon, who first flew to space in 2007, and the first for Dominick.
It was not clear what caused the spacesuit discomfort or whether an independent astronaut medical issue was a factor, Reuters reported.
Past spacewalks have been called off over issues with the station's spacesuits, which were designed nearly half a century ago with only minor redesigns and refurbishments. NASA's inspector general has said they are ripe for an upgrade, which NASA is paying Raytheon's Collins Aerospace to do.
Before Thursday's spacewalk cancellation, NASA on Wednesday night accidentally broadcast on its live YouTube feed a simulated emergency of astronauts being treated for decompression sickness on the ISS, raising public alarm about the health of US crewmembers.
NASA said there was no real emergency and that "audio was inadvertently misrouted from an ongoing simulation where crew members and ground teams train for various scenarios in space and is not related to a real emergency."