About the coffee
Masterpieces Geisha SCM
This lot was processed using Daterra’s now familiar Semi-Carbonic Maceration process, where full cherries are placed into sealed stainless steel tanks equipped with one-way valves. This means that when the coffee starts to ferment and CO2 is produced, the lighter oxygen is pushed out from the top of the tank, creating an anaerobic environment. This leads to a dominant enzymatic and lacto-bacterial fermentation in place of a yeast-driven fermentation. This lactic character continues into the cup with a creamy, almost dairy-like feel, while also enhancing the berry notes present in the raw material. Overall we find a creamy body and a berry jam character, alongside sparkling acidity and crisp florals.
Jasmine, Mango and Blackberry
A native Ethiopian varietal, Geisha was isolated by British researchers in the Gesha region of Ethiopia in the 1930’s, and thereafter studied at research stations in Kenya and Tanzania. It was much later introduced into Panama during an outbreak of leaf rust, due to observed resistance to the disease. The varietal was planted sporadically, blended into lots with other varietals, and mainly forgotten about until the Peterson family at Hacienda La Esmeralda cupped a small amount separately at their farm in 2004, and from there started the rise of Geisha within specialty coffee. Our friends at Daterra have been working with Geisha since 2014, studying the suitability of the varietal for Brazilian conditions together with the Agronomic Institute of Campinas. Only recently have they had crops large enough to export, and we have enjoyed following the developing taste profile of this rather different Geisha. As these trees grow at a much lower altitude than in Panama or Colombia for instance, they don’t produce the same delicate citric notes, developing a more berry forward and rounder cup, while maintaining a similarly floral character. Daterra feel this profile is better enhanced by using ‘natural’ type processing, and this lot is no different.
This is the fourth year we have bought coffees from Daterra, a small producing group in the Cerrado Mineiro region of Brazil. Nowadays, they are a boundary pushing producer of various levels of speciality coffees, but their story stretches all the way back to 1908, when they started as a small family business. A young couple emigrated to Brazil from Italy, and opened a small gourmet coffee shop, selling the beans they grew on their own small farm and educating other families on how to roast their green beans and sell them. All was not as easy as it sounded however, and after years of hardship attempting to make a living in the fledgling Brazilian coffee market, they decided they had to diversify their family business to survive. They opened a small gas station, and over the next half century, built a successful auto parts business. When it was time for Donato, the eldest son of the couple, to retire, he decided to reinvest in the industry that had sparked his parents’ passion so long ago. The year was 1976, and the foundations for what would become Daterra were set. Donato wanted to create a new and modern approach to Brazilian coffee agriculture, setting a template decades ahead of its time.
Daterra, meaning ‘from the earth’, was initially two small patches of land in Cerrado, the Boa Vista and Tabuoes farms. Much care was taken to preserve the native flora and fauna of the Cerrado region, one of the most biodiverse regions of Brazil, in an attempt to farm collaboratively with nature rather than trying to control it. All of this meant that as Daterra grew, they became the first Rainforest Alliance certified farm of any kind on Brazil, and were used by Andrea Illy to create the sustainable coffee farm model in 2008. This is something the current generation of the family are very proud of, alongside their coffee quality. They have pioneered new levels of quality control in Brazil, using modern agro-technology alongside ancient techniques to consistently create high quality lots.
The desert climate in Daterra slows down cherry maturation to a point that quality can be controlled during harvest. Every day during harvest small lots of coffee are picked and cupped from each micro-farm, along with soil samples and moisture levels. When a professional cupper decides that the plot is ready to be picked, the pickers return and harvest the whole plot. This allows very tight control of ripeness of cherries, and therefore sweetness in the final cup, across each small plot of the larger Daterra system. Recently they have also been experimenting with new varietals and processing methods in order to create extraordinary flavour experiences, while still maintaining their incredible level of consistency and quality control. This has led to international recognition, including a World Brewer’s Cup title in 2018 with a rare Laurina varietal processed using an experimental carbonic maceration process. It is some of these boundary pushing lots that we are excited to share with you over the coming weeks. We are proud to be working with such a trailblazing producer, providing a template for the future of the Brazilian coffee industry; both through directly supporting other producers and through changing consumer perceptions about the flavour potential of Brazilian coffees.
The Carbonic Maceration process has been used in the wine industry for several decades, particularly in the Beaujolais region, producing fruit-driven, juicy structured wines in a very controlled manner. The application of this process in coffee is only a few years old, but has the same goals. Carbonic maceration is a complex process, requiring precise measurement and control of fermentation variables. Cherries are sealed in tanks without access to oxygen for an extended period with constant monitoring and cataloging of PH, temperature, and CO2 levels. Ambient temperatures are also monitored and controlled to ensure linearity in the processing. After the required time inside the tanks, or when the required pH is reached, coffee is then removed and dried, most often on raised beds or in mechanical driers.
About La Cabra
A focus on raw material
If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.Read more