History & Origins


80th anniversary announcementThe history of the Tristão Group is inter-twined with that of coffee in Brazil, having celebrated its 80th anniversary under the leadership of three generations of the same family. This is not an easy achievement and very few companies can match it.

For the Tristão family, coffee has been a passionate interest from the very beginning.

A long with this passion for coffee, José Ribeiro Tristão, the Group founder, built his principals as a legacy for three future generations. Now in the fourth generation, these principals have proved to be invaluable guidelines for the entrepreneurial success of the family and the fixture of the Tristão name as a most commendable brand.

The very concepts and values laid as foundations for Tristão have taken roots in the company’s culture throughout more than 80 years and have now become a permanent asset. For more than eight decades, Tristão has gained and lived up to a reputation for tradition and reliability.

Today the Tristão brand, under the leadership of the family’s third generation – Ronaldo, Sérgio, Ricardo and Patrícia, remains a symbol for excellence in the most demanding of world markets.

The new generation of Tristão’s executives honours its past by facing new challenges in an ever changing world with the same determination as did the founders and the pioneers. The world has become much smaller due to globalisation. Their strength lies in quick decision-making, unity, teamwork, respect for human values and concern for quality. This, together with the talents of its teams, enable the company to confront any challenges with enthusiasm.

Tristão has assisted and encouraged coffee growers and harvesters; traded, processed and exported coffee. Therefore our suggestion is that the next time you prepare your cup of this special drink, do not just appreciate its flavour and aroma but also remember something of its history, which is our history as well.

contemporary footstools and ottomansTRISTÃO: MORE THAN 80 YEARS OF HISTORY

The group was founded on 23rd February 1935. In the early 30’s, José Ribeiro Tristão and his wife Eunice, herself an accountant, opened a small general store in the town of Afonso Cláudio, in the state of Espírito Santo. Named Casa Misael after José’s father, Misael Tristão, the store traded in a wide range of goods, from food to agricultural implements, textiles and haberdashery.

Placing his bets on coffee as a barter currency, Tristão expanded his commercial activities. Coffee growers from and around Afonso Cláudio began to exchange their coffee for goods from Casa Misael. Ten years later he opened branches in other towns in the region: Itaguaçu, Santa Teresa and, later Nova Venécia. During the post-war economic growth, coffee had become Tristão’s main business activity.

In 1955 a coffee crisis led young Jônice Tristão, Josés son, back to Afonso Cláudio. Since 1943 Jônice had been living in Rio de Janeiro where he graduated in Law. Upon his return he was expected to help is father cope with problems arising from this crisis. Once these problems had been overcome, Jônice opened new branches of the firm in Pancas and Colatina. He also opened a coffee warehouse in the village of Itacibá, which later became part of Greater Vitória.

In 1960, under Jônice’s leadership, Tristão started to export coffee. The product was still one of the main pillars of Brazilian economy at that time. In April 1960, the company’s first shipment, comprising 250 bags of coffee, was exported from the port of Vitória to the French port of Le Havre.

After the period of economic growth under President Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazil underwent political and financial turmoil. By boldly facing these difficult circumstances, Tristão was not only able to persevere but also prosper and gain an international reputation.

Early in the 20th century, coffee accounted for more than half of all Brazilian exports.
From 1965 through 1971, coffee’s contribution shrank to a little over one third of bulk exports after a government policy of diversification. As industrialisation increased the share of coffee continued to shrink.

In 1962 the coffee growing activity in Espírito Santo, which almost exclusively concentrated on the Arabica variety, began to fall due to soil exhaustion and the outbreak of new pests. All this led to low productivity and a decline in quality. The state was then struck by the federal policy of closing down coffee plantations. The crisis worsened in 1966 – 67, causing a mass exodus from country areas. Obstinate coffee growers remained on their properties clinging to the hope of better times and prices. The state rulers joined coffee exporters and producers in an attempt to persuade the Federal Government to reconsider its policy.

This plan benefited those regions in Espírito Santo lying at an altitude of 600 m and more, providing that only the Arabica quality was planted. This meant keeping several counties, especially in the north, outside of the program. A feeling of general apprehension loomed amongst coffee producers.fac0132

In the early 1970s local pioneers, leaders and authorities began an awareness campaign amongst growers, encouraging them to plant the Robusta or Conilon coffee variety. A possible solution envisaged, was to introduce this new variety in the state, which had proved more resistant to pests and suitable for cultivation in the hot regions closer to the shoreline. However, there was no financing or support available for Conilon growers and early attempts by the government to provide aid were not successful at that time. The big uncertainty was how to sell the production of Conilon considering the market was very small and the prices highly irregular.

Instant coffee consumption was then growing in Europe and the United States, which led to the suggestion of using Conilon as its raw-material, thus opening up a viable sales channel for the state’s coffee production.

At the same time, Tristão was about to establish Realcafé do Brasil in Viana, Greater Vitória to produce soluble coffee. Federal authorities at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce had created a rule restricting permits for new industrial coffee installations to the states of São Paulo, Paraná, or Minas Gerais, then the largest Brazilian coffee producers. Realcafé reversed this trend. One reason the Ministry granted permission for an instant coffee factory in Espírito Santo was the state’s unrivalled position as a producer of Conilon coffee – the raw material most used in instant coffee industry.

Cultivation of Conilon was an initiative led by pioneers who took the risk of opposing official federal policies, which supported the state’s Arabica production covering more than 500,000 hectares of land. There was fierce resistance to Conilon at official level especially in regions cultivating Arabica. There was a fear that Conilon cultivation might replace the finer coffee varieties, given its lower production costs and high productivity rates. Besides, Brazil had signed up to the International Coffee Agreement and there was concern that the Brazilian quota might be divided between Conilon and Arabica. Since Conilon has a lower value, this would have decreased the country’s foreign exchange revenue.

Tristão supported and encouraged the Conilon producers of Espírito Santo, assuring them, to quote his own words, “You can be sure that Realcafé will buy the Conilon production. We intend to expand our factory and continuously increase consumption of the product”.

Tristao 0003On April 24th 1971, Jônice inaugurated Realcafé Solúvel do Brasil in Viana, with a capacity for processing 100,000 bags of coffee beans a year, which included the state’s total annual Conilon crop. This venture did much as to breathe new life into coffee production in Espírito Santo, helping the state recover from the crisis of the previous decade.

Currently Espírito Santo is the main producer of the Conilon variety in Brazil. If the state were an independent country, only Vietnam would surpass its production.

The great 1975 frost in the coffee-producing regions in South Brazil and the first two oil crises changed the shape of coffee industry in the country. The Futures markets of London and New York became increasingly significant to the industry and successful coffee exporters were granted financial incentives to expand their business overseas.

In 1978 Tristão became the largest Brazilian coffee exporter and remained so for the next 10 years.

In the same year, the Tristão Group opened subsidiaries in London and New York, becoming one of the first Brazilian enterprises with an international presence. It also expanded business and coffee imports from Africa, Asia, Central America and other Latin American countries.

Tristão has kept its position in the industry and going into the 21st century it still ranks amongst the five largest Brazilian coffee exporters.

In 1982 the Jônice Tristão Foundation (Fundação Jônice Tristão) was created to pursue philanthropic, educational and cultural activities.

In 1985, the hotel Pousada Pedra Azul was opened in the Espírito Santo highlands – an important landmark in the establishment of a mountain tourism industry in the state.

In 1987, following in the footsteps of his father, Jônice began a succession process in the group. He decided to hand over control of the coffee trading companies to his sons, the third generation in the business. The transition was successfully accomplished. Ronaldo and Ricardo took control of Tristão UK in London, Tristão Trading Inc in New York, and Tristão International on the Isle of Man.

On 15th December 1988, the Isle of Man office of Tristão International was officially opened to handle logistics and finance. In 2003, the group’s European and Vietnamese trading operation was centralised in the Isle of Man office.

Sérgio Tristão took control of the Brazilian companies Tristão Comércio Exterior and Triscafé. In 2001, Patrícia, the youngest daughter, became a shareholder and director of Realcafé Solúvel. Jônice remains the Chairman of the Board and president of the Group’s holding company, Trispar – Tristão Participações.

In 2001, the international coffee operations, until that time under the mutual management of Ronaldo and Ricardo, were transferred to the latter, while Ronaldo continued to act as partner.

In the same year, under Sérgio Tristão’s management, Realcafé Solúvel do Brasil doubled its capacity for industrial production.IMG 489999

Casa Misael, the cradle of the Tristão Group, was developed under the efficient control of its founder José Tristão. His zeal is a perennial source of inspiration to Jônice and his children, who consider it an example to be followed. From one Tristão generation to another, the founder’s principles have stood as guidelines governing the Group’s sustained growth, thus ensuring the quality behind the name Tristão.

Inspired by this history of great achievements, current shareholders, directors and associates of the Tristão Group look to continue this legacy into the future.

The successful third Tristão generation has met present-day demands and fulfilled the mission of sustained development.


The Tristão International Group is comprised of a pool of companies involved in providing solutions for shipping, logistics, importing and financing, to deliver green coffee and its by-products for clients and partners around the world.

The international commercial operation deals with the largest suppliers from the main coffee growing countries including Brazil, Vietnam and Central America, ranging from major multinational institutions to small and medium-sized exporters. The quality of our shipments is rigorously analysed and controlled by our local representatives. We are therefore able to guarantee to our clients and partners both quality and reliability.

Tristão International, headquartered on the Isle of Man, is our main centre for commercial operations. From this office a team of traders communicates directly with all coffee growing regions, operating hedges against Futures markets in New York, London and São Paulo, as well as meeting the sophisticated needs of our international clientele.

Tristão International offers a complete range of Brazilian Arabica (both natural and washed) and Robusta (Conilon) coffees. We also offer instant coffee (spray dried and/or agglomerated), coffee extract, coffee oil, as well as roast and ground coffee. More recently, with the establishment of operations in Vietnam, we began to offer a complete selection of natural and washed coffees from this important coffee-growing region. Supported by a network of partners and agents throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia, Tristão International supplies products directly to eight different North American Ports and thirteen European destinations, as well as many other places in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Middle East. Through its VMI (Vendors Management Inventory) contracts, Tristão International together with its team of specialists also provides services tailored to the exclusive need of our clients.

Tristão International (based on the Isle of Man) and Tristão Trading Inc (based in New York) are responsible for our logistics and financial operations in the European and North American markets. These offices deal with all the business aspects in their areas, including procedures and daily contact with shipping companies, warehouses, customs, banks and other financial institutions, in order to provide a platform for control and supervision of local activities.

Finally, to round off our structure, a network of exclusive agents and representatives throughout the world monitors local markets and provides services and real time information, maintaining close contact with our most distant clients and partners.

The combination of efficient commercial operations and first class logistics allows the
Tristão International Group to submit to our clients and partners a complete commercial solution and to meet every need and specification of the contemporary coffee market.