Meet Lelena, grower of our August single origin São Domingos, Serra do Caparaó

August 23, 2019

Ever wondered where your coffee comes from? Each month Three Pence Roasters in Caringbah showcases a new origin. This month, it's São Domingos, Serra do Caparaó grown by Brazilian Lelena Oliveira.

At 71 years old, Lelena has been growing coffee for over 60 years, since she was just 9. Lelena started working with coffee when her father was injured and no longer able to work in the fields. Back then, little Lelena gathered grains with her hands and placed them in a hamper, and at the end of the day's harvest would be transported by donkey or ox cart to the drying patio near the house. In a corner of the drying patio was a coffee washer, an opening about a metre deep where the beans were poured to separate them from impurities and stones from the crop and were removed with a strainer.

The drying patio was a dirt track covered with cow manure and ashes from the wood stove, a (pungent!) blend to help keep the soil smooth and waterproof. The humidity of the coffee was measured by testing 20 peeled grains, with the sharp side of the knife the centre of each grain was tightened. If the grain jumped a far distance, it meant the beans were dry and they'd go into an empty can to be stored inside the house until sale.

Lelena married at the age of 18 and had three children. At 32, she acquired her own piece of land to expand her coffee growing. When her husband passed away she was 38 years old, Lelena had to take the reins of the house, property and operations. Now, Lelena is responsible for the production of specialty coffee alongside her children, grandchildren and brother. The property is called

She says love and affection is essential in the success of her specialty coffees. The property is named ‘Sítio Moinho Grande’ with an average altitude of 1160 meters and boasts about 16 thousand coffee trees. Harvest begins on the cold winter days and extends until the end of October when the spring breezes arrive and the days get longer. During harvest Lelena is in the field by 6am watching over the lots that are reaching the maturity point.

Lelena says love and affection are essential to the success of her specialty coffee. This origin produces a clean, delicate and balanced cup, with tasting notes of caramel and yellow fruit.