Our visit to the Partner’s Forum at Daterra
Although we visited Brazil in 2014, we had an unexpected reason to go again. Since we source from so many producing countries, and from many areas within those countries, it is not possible to visit everyone every year. We still manage to touch base at numerous trade shows we attend and this year was no exception. At SCAA Seattle in April we were asked by Daterra if we would be interested in a Partner’s Forum, where by their international agents would join together at the farm for sharing of information and look at the future. Well, how can you refuse such a proposal ! Flight booked instantly once all partners confirmed their calendars.
Daterra is Daterra. It sits in its own category. The size of the farm and the way it is managed at the same time experimenting with various techniques, and really looking for answers everywhere. In recent years so many opinions have come about what is the best method of processing, so Daterra have set up a special wet and dry mill to evaluate these opinions – is patio drying better than Guardiola or Vertical, or African beds – well lets try. African beds – is full sun, 75%, 50% 25% or zero sun better – well lets try. Running the pulper at different speeds, adding yeast to the fermentation tanks. These guys are taking the theory and testing it until it goes bang!!
Breaking news – Daterra entered a competition to find the most sustainable farm in all Brazil – they won ! Luis, Isabela and Leon presented the trophy to the whole team in the farm and acknowledged that it was a team effort. see photo below.
Isabella presenting the Daterra award to the farm.
Travelling so far to only see 1 farm is not making the most of the opportunity, so we managed to squeeze in a few extra days visiting 6 other farms in the Minas Gerais region driving from Sao Paulo towards Lorena, North to Sao Lourenco, then zig zagging to Pocos de Caldas before driving back to Sao Paulo. Thank goodness the roads are good and the accommodation comfortable.
The Capoeira Family with Simon & Priscilla
The farms appear on our offer list and will be available for tasting at the session we are running on 17 September – if you want to know what they are, you’ll have to come along for the tasting, and then enjoy a bite to eat and a beer afterwards !!
It is great to experience the passion and increased knowledge that is being shown at the farms. As ever the warmth of hospitality is second to none. Some of the farms visited were Fairtrade, but not Fairtrade as we know it – the farms do not really need the premiums, they are privately owned, but with the manner in which they are operated, they comply with the Fairtrade standards. When asked about the premium, it is left in the Cooperative to invest in an appropriate manner amongst their members who can benefit from the premium – it’s kind of like a philanthropic gesture by the owners to help the surrounding farms develop. But because these farms are privately owned, they have the quality controls in place and are processing various varietals and processes as required which are cupping above 84 points.
Cupping at Ascarive
Depending upon the area and their micro climate the harvest was about 60-70% complete, which meant that we could taste the early harvest – still a bit fresh, but gave us an idea that the quality will be really good even though the bean maybe a little smaller.You always learn something new – natural floaters ! it’s not what you are thinking – it’s the new grade ! Even cupped better than Lewak. Joking apart, floaters have always been rejects, but there are different types of floaters and some of them are good, which are also know in Daterra as “pulped raisin”
It is surprising to see how much of a slope a mechanical harvester can cope with – upto 30 degrees now ! and we noted that a number of farms are changing their plantings (rows) to convert to machine picking, due to cost and lack of manual labour. The labour conditions for manual workers is also becoming tougher, with the farm owners needing to see licences from the “mechanical Hand pickers” – it is like a brush cutter, but with vibrating fingers as opposed to a blade – these guys work in pairs, but need to have protective boots, gloves, face/hear wear as well as the licence to prove they are safe to use the equipment.
A mobile huller refuelling!
These trips are full-on – very little down time. But you can still have fun. This time the prize goes to Priscilla, who at the Daterra Partner’s Forum managed to get the whole team from Europe, USA, Asia and Brazil to confess to their favourite cake, favourite coffee and most memorable kiss ! 10 days later Priscilla and Simon are back at Heathrow – (Simon) carrying a few extra kilos around the waste– nothing to do with the great food, massive amounts of meat and 1 or 2 beers in the evening.
Bonfire and beers at Daterra