Sebastiana de Oliveira Faria, known as Lelena, was born in 1947 in the region of Espera Feliz, south of Minas Gerais.
She started with coffee very young at the age of 9 years old when her father got injured and was no longer able to work in the fields.
Back at that time and for a long while the coffee industry in the region was quite precarious with no proper structures. The coffee was picked by hand and knocked over in the middle of the crop. The little Lelena gathered the grains with her hands and placed them in a hamper. At the end of the day the harvest was transported by donkey or ox cart to the drying patio near the house. In one of the corners of the drying patio was a coffee washer, an opening about a meter deep into the ground, its bottom pounded during construction to harden the foundation so that the water was not absorbed by the soil during washing. The coffee beans were poured into this hole and washed to separate them from the impurities and stones that came together from the crop and were removed from the washer with a strainer.
The drying patio was a dirt track covered with cow manure and ashes of the wood stove.
This blend helped 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 center of each grain was tightened. If every grain jumped a far distance it meant the beans were dry. Once dry the coffees were taken with an empty can to one of the rooms inside the house and there it remained until the moment it was sold.
The coffees were taken back into the donkey or the ox carriage to be transported to the place of sale. For the commercialization it was used the arroba measure, a unit of measure used in the cattle market in Brazil. Back then the coffee was benefited by the seller on a water powered machine.
Lelena married at the age of 18 and had three children, at a time when almost nothing was sold in shops and the means of transportation were still scarce. At the age of 32 she acquired her piece of land and continued in the activity of coffee growing. When she was 38 her husband passed away, and she had to take the reins of the house and property.
Today with 71 years old and 64 years of uninterrupted work in coffee plantation, Lelena is responsible for the production of specialty