Our long-term Brazilian partner, Daterra, extended to us an exceptional opportunity back in 2014 - to explore the potential of coffee cultivation on a plot of land on their farm. Together, we shared a vision of climate responsibility and set out to achieve it through organic practices, biodiversity, permaculture, and the cultivation of multiple coffee varieties. We named the coffee field, Our Plot.
With Our Plot, we are pursuing the idea of creating a self-sustaining system that produces as many nutrients on its own so that the input is kept at a minimum. This of course is a long-term project that will run for many years and hopefully bring valuable insights into regenerative coffee production.
In September, Samuli and our skilled barista Xinyi embarked on an adventure to Brazil for our annual visit to Daterra. Their mission? To check up on the progress and health of Our Plot. Get ready to be transported to the lush, vibrant coffee fields of Brazil.
Back in September, I visited Daterra together with Xinyi who is a barista from one of our bars.
It’s always exciting because the development is so visible and drastic. From the growth of the shade trees, the coffee plants and the overall microfauna.
However, as we approached the coffee trees, the excitement was tempered by the sight of the Bourbons suffering from leaf rust and leaf miner insect damage. More than half of them were in such bad shape that they were unlikely to fully recover.
To combat the leaf miner, the agronomists at Daterra have used drones to spray a bug onto the plants. However, it is likely that they will need to spray more in the future to be more effective. They suggested removing the damaged trees and replanting them with new seedlings. This presented a challenge because the plot contained trees of different ages, which affected their ability to compete for nutrients with bigger trees due to the difference in the size of their roots.
At our last meeting at the end of February, we decided what the next steps are going to be. We decided to remove the trees that were unlikely to recover, prune the shade trees to allow more sun and air into the area to combat leaf rust, increase the spacing between the trees to allow for better air circulation and nutrient availability, and replace some varieties with varieties of Ethiopian origin that had been grown in Brazil for several generations.
The forecast for the next year's harvest is that there’ll be very little coming out of the plot due to the replanting.
This project requires a lot of patience, and the team knew from the beginning that it would take time to see results. However, they are pleased that Daterra sees the value in the project and is willing to commit resources to it.
This year we received three different coffees from Our Plot, just like last year.
First, we had the Geisha, processed in the traditional Cerrado way. They leave the cherries on the tree until they are fully dry and turned into what some refer to as raisins or naturally fried on the tree. This gives a lot of sweetness. The amount was very limited and we used it for the advent calendar back in December.
The yellow and red Bourbons were processed in two different ways.
One is a Pulped Natural made of the ripest cherries. This means that they separate the cherry and the bean mechanically and afterwards let it dry on raised beds.
This process creates a flavour profile that’s quite common for Daterra and Cerrado coffee. Roasted nuts, caramel, earthiness and hints of dried fruit.
The second process is Anaerobically fermented Natural. This consisted of ripe and slightly less ripe cherries. Adding a bit more acidity to the coffee due to the process and the different stages of ripeness. This means that they put the cherries in steel tanks, with a lid and a valve to release all the oxygen and the following CO2 that the process develops. So it’s an oxygen-free environment.
The process creates more acidity, fruitiness and a touch of booziness that is often experienced in the funky fermentation processes. It was fermented for 60 hours in steel tanks.
In conclusion, Our Plot is an ambitious and exciting project that is pushing the boundaries of regenerative coffee production. Daterra's commitment and patience are commendable, and it is heartening to see Daterra's support for the project. The coffees produced from the plot are a testament to the team's hard work and dedication, and we can't wait to see what the future holds for this innovative project.