Jacu Bird Coffee from Brazil: Biodynamic Agriculture, Cosmic Cycles, and Organic Farming

by DerdriuMarriner

Chicken-like Jacu birds like to hide in twig-built nests. Their honking long and loud irritates Brazilians. But their bean-filled droppings produce high-priced specialty coffee.

Jacu birds are native to Caribbean, Central, and South America. They belong to an ancient bird family, the Cracidae group of chachalacas, curassows, and guans. So they also can be counted among the relatives of the bird world's mounded nest-builders, the megapodes (“large feet”) of Andaman and Nicobar, Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, and Oceania. Cracids and megapodes configure similar physiques of:

• Big feet;
• Heavy legs;
• Large, rounded wings;
• Short beaks;
• Small heads;
• Stocky bodies.

They often get described as chicken- and turkey-like. They particularly get identified as irritants and pests in the case of those that are called guans beyond Brazil's borders and jacus within Brazil.
• Jacus may get quite noisy, particularly when raiding coffee trees.

Dark Guan (Penelope obscura): an avian species noisily enthusiastic about coffee in Brazil ~

illustration by Henrik Grönvold (September 6, 1858 - March 23, 1940)
The Birds of South America, Vol. II: Plates (1917), Plate 6
The Birds of South America, Vol. II: Plates (1917), Plate 6

 

Four Cracidae family genera claim guan birds:

  • Aburria, whose one species dwells in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela;

  • Chamaepetes, whose two species inhabit Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, and Peru;

  • Oreophasis, whose only species lives in Guatemala and Mexico;

  • Penelopina, whose single species occupies El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Two others include guan and jacu birds:

  • Penelope, whose 16 species reside in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela;

  • Pipile, whose four species settle Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyanas, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad, and Venezuela.

Seven species particularly irritate Brazil's mega-bucks coffee agro-industry.  

 

Jacupemba (Penelope superciliaris): a noisy coffee enthusiast

Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil
Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil

 

Plant parts and small invertebrates accommodate the guan and jacu dietary requirements. It therefore behooves them to function as obligate pest-controlling and seed-dispersing environmentalists within forested and wooded habitats. The herbivorous (“plant-eating”) components of the day-active, tree-dwelling omnivore's (“everything-eater”) diet concentrate upon:

  • Buds;

  • Flowers;

  • Fruits.

The carnivorous (“flesh-eating”) parts control arthropod populations that need to be restrained from devouring foliage and sap and harming bark, roots, and tissue. Guan and jacu eating habits theoretically effect a necessary balance since the birds in question have discriminating floriferous (“flower-related”) and frugiferous (“fruit-related”) tastes. Like the similarly frugivorous -- but dissimilarly mammalian -- East, South, and Southeast Asia's common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), they only feed upon the tastiest morsels. 

 

Asian Common Palm Civet feeding on coffee beans: the tastiest morsels are sought.

Kepahiang Regency, Bengkulu Province, southern Sumatra
Kepahiang Regency, Bengkulu Province, southern Sumatra

 

Avian predilections for red coffee drupes evince behavior modification impelled by Brazil's extreme environmental reconfigurations since the 1500s. Sergeant Major Francisco de Melo Palheta (1670 – 1750?) gets credit in 1727 for:

  • Ending Dutch colonial control over access to sub-Saharan Africa's endemic coffee shrubs (Coffea arabica, C. robusta);

  • Obtaining seeds imported by French Guinea from Dutch-controlled Suriname;

  • Planting Brazil's first coffee shrubs in Pará.

 

Coffee farm at Téofilo Otoni in southeastern Brazil's coffee-producing state of Minas Gerais

northeastern Minas Gerais state, southeastern Brazil
northeastern Minas Gerais state, southeastern Brazil

 

Coffee cultivation now impacts:

  • Bahia;

  • Espírito Santo;

  • Minas Gerais;

  • Paraná;

  • Rondônia;

  • Santa Catarina;

  • São Paulo.

It overlaps with the bio-geographies of:

  • Black-fronted (Pipile jacutinga) and red-throated (cujubi) piping guans;

  • Chestnut-bellied (Penelope ochrogaster), dusky-legged (obscura), rusty-margined (superciliaris), Spix's (jacquacu), and white-browed (jacucaca) guans. 

 

Spix's Guan (Penelope jacquacu): Coffee cultivation in Brazil overlaps with Spix's Guan's bio-geographies.

Amazon rainforest, Iquitos, Loreto Region, Maynas Province, northeastern Peru
Amazon rainforest, Iquitos, Loreto Region, Maynas Province, northeastern Peru

 

Overlaps in home and territorial ranges generally do not endear guan and jacu birds to Brazil's agro-industrialists in general or to Brazil's coffee-growers in particular. Guan and jacu birds typically emit carrying, intrusive, noisy sounds while:

  • Foraging;

  • Grouping around favorite trees;

  • Ruffling wings;

  • Vocalizing early-morning wake-up calls.

They particularly get noisy about delicious, fragrant, mature, red coffee cherries. They have a talent for selecting the best-shaped and best-tasting drupes. They ingest the entire fruit even though their digestive system cannot decompose, grind or use the 1 – 2 seeds which an encasing parchment separates and shelters from the enshrouding flesh. They leave no mess other than expelling green beans to the ground under their home trees. 

 

Jacuaçu (Penelope obscura): in with the best coffee drupes and out with the green caffeine beans

Parque Estadual da Cantareira, São Paulo, southeastern Brazil
Parque Estadual da Cantareira, São Paulo, southeastern Brazil

 

Witnessing drupe consumption and pit expulsion aggravates coffee-growers everywhere … except in Espírito Santo. Separated by highway BR262, Atalaia and Camocim farms are the legacy of biodynamic- and organic-certified owner-operator Henrique Sloper Araújo’s grandfather, Sr Olivar Fontenelle de Araújo from northeast Brazil’s first major port city at Camocim, Ceará. It befits standard operating procedure to include:

  • Cosmic cycling;
  • Crop rotation;
  • Green manure;
  • Organic compost;
  • Resource re-use.

It behooves staff not to problem-solve with:

  • Chemical biocides (antimicrobial, pesticidal);
  • Growth-regulators;
  • Hormones;
  • Off-farm inputs;
  • Synthetic fertilizers.

Henrique brings additional insights as a world-traveling adventurer, snow-boarder, and surfer. He draws upon an understanding of kopi luwak -- coffee made from Asian common palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) digesting pulps and expelling pits.

 

Jacu coffee produced at Araújo family farms in Ceará, northeastern Brazil

Jacu Bird Coffee, ou Café do Jacu, que é produzido na fazenda Camocim, em Pedra A
Jacu Bird Coffee, ou Café do Jacu, que é produzido na fazenda Camocim, em Pedra A

 

The 369.72-acre (149.62-hectare) Atalaia and 371.6-acre (150.38-hectare) Camocim farms claim:

  • Altitudes 1,312.34 – 1,640.42 feet (400 – 500 meters) above sea level;
  • Orientations east- or north-ward per moon-/star-/sun-light;
  • Precipitation of 59.06 – 78.74 inches (1,500 – 2,000 millimeters) yearly;
  • Temperatures averaging 69.8°F (21°C).

They market:

  • Arabica coffees;
  • Coffee blossom honey;
  • Jabuticaba (Plinia cauliflora, Brazilian grape) and pitanga (Eugenia uniflora, Brazilian cherry) jams.

Coffee-growing involves:

  • August - December flowering, May - September harvesting;
  • Banana-, citrus-, eucalyptus-shaded, nutrient-rich soils;
  • 8 forest plantations;
  • 92,594.15 pounds/year (42,000 kilos/year), with 396,832.07 [180,000] from Bahia-, Espírito Santo-, Minas Gerais-, São Paulo-based partners;
  • 123.56 acres (50 hectares);
  • 300,000+ producing trees.

Jacu Bird coffee-growing needs:

  • Hanging terraces for drying and resting cleaned beans 4 months;
  • Nitrogen packaging for shelf-life.

 

Jabuticaba tree (Plinia cauliflora): Fruits are thick-skinned berries, reminiscent of grapes, with astringent, thick purple skin and sweet, white or rosy flesh; popularly eaten fresh or prepared in jams, liqueurs, and wines ~

In addition to Jacu Bird Coffee, Araújo family markets Jabuticaba Jam.
Nova Odessa, São Paulo, southeastern Brasil
Nova Odessa, São Paulo, southeastern Brasil

Conclusion

 

Like Asian common palm civets, dusky-legged and rusty-margined guans consume pulp and expel pits. Per University of Guelph, Ontario food scientist Massimo Marcone, civet digestive tracts de-bitter beans by:

  • Exuding proteolytic enzymes;
  • Freeing amino acids;
  • Initiating malting;
  • Shortening peptides.

Such an earthy aroma- and flavor-impacting intrusion has yet to be indicated for jacu birds and their coffee drupes. Jacu birds in fact have different digestive systems and shorter expulsion times. Admirers identify subtleties regarding:

  • Full-bodied, slightly acidic, sweet tastes;
  • Leather-, rose-, truffle-like aromas;
  • Liqueur-like balanced acidity and smoothness.

Biodynamic, organic regulations make coffee-growing transparent. Production will be even more so once Henrique opens Camocim’s Agro-Eco-Resort Community with:

  • Hotel rooms;
  • Meeting and retail spaces;
  • Restaurant;
  • Spa;
  • Tasting facilities.

 

Araújo family estate is located in picturesque municipality (município) of Domingo Martins in Brazil's northeastern state of Espírito Santo.

Rua João Baptista Wernersbach (João Baptista Wernersbach Street), Domingo Martins, Espírito Santo, northeastern Brazil
Rua João Baptista Wernersbach (João Baptista Wernersbach Street), Domingo Martins, Espírito Santo, northeastern Brazil

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Araújo family coffee product

Jaco Bird coffee
Jaco Bird coffee

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"Rusty-margined Guan - Penelope superciliaris - Temminck, 1815." Xeno-canto Foundation. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Penelope-superciliaris

Schulenberg, T.S. (ed.). 2010. "Dusky-legged Guan (Penelope obscura)." Neotropical Birds Online. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=78791

Sick, H. 1993. Birds in Brazil: A Natural History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Spencer, Stefanie. 1 January 2008. "Jacu Bird Coffee." EcoFriendly Coffee. Retrieved August 12, 2014.

  • Available at: http://ecofriendlycoffee.org/jacu-bird-coffee/

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; and Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical Birds: Ecology and Conservation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Taylor, Pia. 3 October 2009. "Jacu Bird Coffee: Bird Droppings Have Never Tasted This Good." Mother City Living. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://www.mothercityliving.co.za/jacu-bird-coffee/

Ukers, William H. 1922. All About Coffee. New York, NY: The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company.

  • Available via Project Gutenberg at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28500/28500-h/28500-h.htm

 

Pico Pedra Azul, iconic gneiss outcrop covered with blue-, green-, and yellow-colored lichens: located in Parque Estadual da Pedra Azul (Pedra Azul State Park), Aracê district of Domingos Martins, municipality where Araújo family organic estates are sited

municipality of Domingos Martins' western district, western Ceará state, northeastern Brazil
municipality of Domingos Martins' western district, western Ceará state, northeastern Brazil
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Mountain Jungle Eyes: green t-shirt ~ Available via Amazon

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Andrew Zimmern's Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Foods: An Intrepid Eater's Digest ~ p. 115: "JACU BIRD COFFEE: Brazilians dig this beverage"

As host of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods America on the Travel Channel, Andrew's passion is exploring how different foods are important to different cultures.
Jacu Bird Coffee in books

Jaboticaba Jam by Island Valley Delights ~ Tastes like regular grapes! Jaboticaba, known as Brazilian Tree Grape, except we grow it right here on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Each and every jar of jam contains only non-GMO fruit ~ We use only tree, bush, and vine ripened fruit picked at the peak of freshness ~ We never gas our fruit or harvest it before its time ~ No herbicides or pesticides ever.
Jaboticaba Jam

Jabuticaba Fruit Tree Plant - Bonsai or Houseplant - 4" Pot ~ Keep evenly moist, not wet or dry ~ Easy to grow!

Jabuticaba plants

Life Starts After Coffee: black t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/20/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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