Amanda Oliveira is Ally Coffee’s specialty coffee buyer for Brazil. Amanda started her career in coffee working in the Traffic department of Cafebras, one of Ally Coffee’s export partners under Grupo Montesanto Tavares, in the city of Patrocinio in Cerrado Mineiro, Brazil. After four years working with the Traffic team, Amanda began assisting the Cafebras specialty team with sales and contracts, making it a seamless transition to her current role sourcing specialty coffees from Brazil for Ally this year.
Much of the work of sourcing specialty coffee involves calibrated language for discussing quality, and this is of particular interest to Amanda, who completed research for her business degree on the parallels between specialty coffee and wine. Amanda is also a Q-grader and recently participated in a workshop on the flavor lexicon’s sensory references taught by Ally’s Director of Learning, Ildi Revi, who traveled to Cafebras in Brazil with a suitcase full of the flavor references defined in the lexicon. Many of the flavors described on the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) wheels refer to American product brands like Welch’s juice and Hershey’s cocoa, which are often not readily accessible in producing countries. Amanda’s continued interest in connecting the sensory vocabulary used by roasters with the terms used at origin is one of the aspects of her new role that she finds most compelling.
“Producers in Brazil are excited to offer excellent coffees to the market and to continue to change the perception of Brazilian coffees by offering new microlots,” Amanda notes. Her job sourcing specialty coffee for Ally involves communicating with producers regarding the coffees they offer, relaying feedback on samples and final shipments of coffees to align the coffees that farmers invest in producing with what fulfills roasters’ needs.
Working with the Cafebras specialty sales team last year, Amanda had the opportunity to learn more about what appeals to the global market of coffee consumers by traveling to World of Coffee in Budapest and visiting clients in Greece. She shares the preferences observed in exclusively consuming countries with producers back in Brazil. Another component of her role is connecting roasters with producers when the former travels to origin. “Every time clients visit Brazil, I go with them to farms to explain about the production processes. I like to visit producers to see their realities and to learn about what they do directly from them.”
In her role sourcing specialty coffees, Amanda sits at the intersection of two learning curves: producers’ increasing understanding of the sensory lexicon used by roasters to evaluate quality and roasters’ increasing understanding of the agricultural variability and complexity of producing specialty coffee. Amanda embraces her position in the middle as an opportunity to act as a liaison for both sides of the supply chain by providing information that allows for informed decision making and improved results.
Stay tuned for this year’s microlot and specialty coffee offerings from Brazil — Amanda and our producer partners behind this year’s harvest are poised to deliver coffees that fit roasters’ needs for quality, consistency, and exceptionality while maintaining a sustainable production ecosystem on the ground.