After placing in the 2015 Cup of Excellence, his second prizewinning finish after a 14-year interval, grower Henrique Dias Cambraia approached the Japanese judge with an urgent request: “Send Kentaro an email! I need to tell him!” Henrique and I go way back: Maruyama Coffee has been partners with Henrique longer than any other grower. His farm, Samambaia, is one of our biggest annual suppliers of beans, too. Having forged such close bonds with Henrique, I was thrilled to hear that he'd done so well in the competition and honored to know that he'd wanted me to be the first to know. I first met Henrique 17 years ago, in 2001, at a Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association boat party in Miami. Maruyama Coffee was just getting its feet wet in the specialty coffee world, and I was eager to make headway and use the gathering to network with some of the industry's leading figures. Although my first encounter with Henrique on the boat was just a passing greeting, it turned out to be the spark of a bond that took full shape when Maruyama Coffee won the bid for Fazenda Samambaia's Cup of Excellence beans around six months later. Our brief introduction was the beginning of a relationship that's still thriving today.

「ケンタローにメールで報告して!」2015年のカップ・オブ・エクセレンスでサマンバイア農園が14年振りの入賞を果たしたとき、カンブライアさんは日本人の審査員にそう言ったそうだ。カンブライアさんは、丸山珈琲が最も長くお付き合いをしている農園主。また、サマンバイア農園は、丸山珈琲が年間で最も多くの豆を仕入れている農園のひとつだ。入賞したこと自体ももちろんだが、そのことをいち早く知らせたいという彼の気持ちがとてもうれしかった。 カンブライアさんとの出会いは17年前、2001年までさかのぼる。場所はブラジルのスペシャルティコーヒー協会がマイアミで行った船上パーティだった。丸山珈琲がスペシャルティコーヒーの世界に本格的に飛び込もうとしていた時期、業界の一流たちが集うパーティで何かをつかもうと意気込んでいた。このときカンブライアさんとはあいさつ程度のコンタクトだったが、約半年後に行われたブラジルのカップ・オブ・エクセレンスでサマンバイア農園が入賞し、その豆を丸山珈琲が落札したことから、いまに続く関係がスタートすることになった。

After landing the bid for Henrique's beans, I made my first trip to Fazenda Samambaia in 2002. I still remember being stunned at the sprawling size of the whole setup. While many coffee farms in other countries measure less than 10 hectares in total land area, Fazenda Samambaia comes in at 600 hectares— roughly the size of 128 Tokyo Domes. I'd heard that Brazilian coffee farms were massive, of course, but nothing could've prepared me for what I saw. The sheer scale of the whole experience, which was also my first time in Brazil, blew me away. It wasn't just the size that floored me: the farmhouses at Fazenda Samambaia were gorgeous, awe-inspiring structures in their own right. The farm had seen its share of renovations over more than a century in existence, but the stately, historical grace of the place hadn't faded one bit.


Henrique took over the farm in his twenties, having lost his father at a young age. I was still in my thirties when we met. Both of us being young and driven, then, we hit it off from the start. He's always been a “big-picture” person, constantly looking at things from a long-term perspective, which has made our conversations about the future of the coffee business—then and now—so compelling and invigorating. I remember the night Henrique hosted me at a little shack in the middle of his giant farm, where we shared a great conversation, surrounded by nothing but coffee fields and peaceful, pristine silence. It might've been the best night's sleep I've ever had. “Now this shack, right here,” we joked, “is a five-star hotel!” That's a memory that'll stay with me. Looking back over my relationship with Henrique, I can remember myself as a green newcomer to a market that was just beginning to open up. The specialty coffee world has continued to flourish and expand ever since, pushing ahead into the future. I can't wait to talk with Henrique about all the possibilities that await—and I know the perfect five-star hotel for a chat.