In a recent conversation, Gabriel Agrelli Moreira at Daterra Coffee in Brazil described Daterra as “not only a farm but actually a lab, a scientific lab that happens to produce coffee at the end of the day”.
This depiction of Daterra sets the scene for this year’s farm updates, which all relate to innovation. The curiosity and innovation that drives Daterra forward span all aspects of the farm. From coffee production and the environment to packaging and carbon footprinting, every decision Daterra makes is part of a wider ambition to use innovation to make coffee more sustainable.
So what has the only B Corp coffee farm in the world been up to over the past 12 months? And what can we expect from Daterra this year?
In this article, we share Daterra’s recent Field Report, which brings us up to date with events, quality and production, and explore some of the fantastic Daterra projects in more depth.
The new Daterra crop lands in the UK and EU soon, so if you are interested in discussing your Daterra offering or learning more about DRWakefield’s Daterra range, please get in touch with the Trade team.
Daterra 2022 Field Report
The last few years have indeed been a whirlwind all over the world. Corona, adverse climatic conditions, war, global logistics crisis… Living on planet earth is becoming more and more challenging by the day. Coffee industry (as many others) has been widely impacted by these tempestuous times. In this 2022 crop report you will read about how our ever-resilient team is dealing with all those challenges at the farm level, to keep producing amazing coffee to you.
Daterra is expected to have a quite big production for 2022. After the low 2021 crop, trees were displaying very good vegetative growth and prospects of a great production year. Good rains around blossoming season (September/October), helped keeping up those positive forecasts.
Around the end of the year though, when the fruits start growing on the trees, rainfall was not sufficient to supply enough water to back up part of that production potential and the number has dropped a bit, once this has impacted fruit formation. Irrigation was crucial to avoid bigger losses at that stage. On the other hand, in the beginning of 2022, rain levels caught up, and better precipitation volumes were registered, allowing a satisfactory bean growth.
As the winter started, temperatures lowered, and the cold imposed some challenges. In May, very low temperatures were registered – even negative temperatures in parts of the farm in a few nights across May and June. Newer sprouts on the trees got burned, but not to a concerning extent, that will significantly impact the next crop. On the other hand, the very cold temperatures have cold-burned part of the cherries, that were still green at the time. Cold burned cherries had 2 main behaviours:
– Slightly cold-burned cherries matured and are being harvested and pulped normally. The maturation was accelerated though, and those coffees are scoring slightly lower. They will make up to lower blends in our menu.
– More intensely cold-burned cherries have passed from green to dry straight away. Part of those cherries just felt onto the ground, and the other part represents a lower quality beans.
According to our tests, our Smart Coffee Processing Unit can sort out part of those unripe-dry cherries, and the remaining beans are removed at the electronic sorters, so the quality and consistency delivered to our clients will be preserved, as always.
Right now, we have harvested 40% of this year’s production and according to forecasts from our agronomical team, Daterra will produce 84,000 bags of coffee on the 2022 crop.
All over the world, costs for goods are booming due to the instability of the world’s macroeconomic scenario and so it is at the coffee producing world. At Daterra, costs of everything have increased across the board. Fertilizers only, which represent 35% of our yearly costs, have increased by 60%. Logistics costs had a 22% increase, and fuel to our vehicles and machinery had a 40% raise. Labour has been extremely difficult to find, and temporary workers dedicated to harvesting operations now cost us 30% than on the previous crop. We have intensified our selective mechanical harvest, which has helped a lot to mitigate the impacts of lack of labour and its high costs, though.
The 2022 crop quality is great. We have been cupping these coffees with a few groups of clients visiting our farms and everyone seems excited about what they are finding in the cup. We can’t wait to present these coffees to you!
Daterra Team, Brazil
Carbon Negative Coffee
Last year, Daterra announced that it was a Carbon Negative coffee farm. In 2022, they continue their work towards their commitment of increasing CO2 sequestration by 50% before 2030, paving the way for the future of coffee farming.
Carbon sequestration is a natural process where carbon is absorbed from the atmosphere and stored in soil and vegetation. Daterra produces coffee on 2,800 hectares (6,919 acres) of land, which equates to 11.7 million coffee trees sequestering carbon as they grow. In addition to this, environmental preservation lands and reforested areas on the farm hold over 1.2 million tons of CO2 equivalent, according to an evaluation performed by Imaflora Institute. As a result, Daterra absorbs more carbon than it produces each year and, through this process, can produce 90 thousand bags of carbon-negative coffee, with a carbon credit of over 40kg of CO2e for each bag of coffee delivered at the port.
Daterra’s carbon work may unlock essential lessons for the future of coffee. Isabela Pascoal, Daterra’s Director of Sustainability, explains how agribusiness has a fundamental role in promoting positive impacts on the climate. “Agriculture has been seen as one of the main causes of global warming, but the new regenerative agriculture can be an important part of the solution”. She says, “the very nature of the coffee business is based on trees – coffee trees. These plants sequester carbon from the atmosphere and turn it into branches, leaves, and coffee beans. Our agricultural management is designed to improve soil health: not only biodiverse soil grows better coffee, but it is also part of the solution to climate change”.
Water and Trees
Daterra’s commitment to the environment goes beyond just farming coffee. After determining the importance of water supply, Daterra is investing in irrigation and increasing irrigated areas on the farm. The work includes constructing a 5-hectares structure to harvest excessive rainwater throughout the rainy seasons so it will be available during the dry season and protecting and creating new water springs. To acheive this, Daterra has partnered with the NGO Cerrado da Águas (Cerrado of Waters), that works to preserve and recover watercourses in Cerrado region.
In addition to this, Daterra has committed to planting 20 million trees by 2030 through their Tree_llion Project. To date, Daterra has planted over 610 thousand native trees. The new trees will further increase carbon sequestration, protect water, restore natural biomes, and create wildlife corridors and rich organic compost. These will average 1,500 per hectare and eventually cover an area equivalent to over 13,000 football pitches.
Introducing plant-based Penta Bags and Boxes
Alongside implementing sustainability projects on the farm, Daterra has also been working to improve the sustainability of its packaging. They will soon be changing all packaging to renewable source materials made from plants.
The new Penta packaging will replace the material used in both Daterra’s boxes and bags. Polypropylene bags, jute and grain-pro will be replaced with Penta bags. These will create superior coffee quality, as shelf-life will be longer, moisture and water activity will be more stable, and coffee beans will be better protected from oxidation and external odours. The interior bags in Daterra boxes, currently made from aluminium and various plastics, will be made from green plastic with a much smaller environmental impact.
The plastic on the new packaging will be made from sugar cane, a renewable resource with much lower CO2 emissions. The move will make 100% of Daterra packaging plant-based, recyclable and more climate-friendly.
This new packaging is currently in a test phase, after which Daterra will “soft-launch”. The process means that, little by little, Daterra will transition from the old package to the new Penta. This is important as they will be able to test the packaging in new markets while ensuring no waste is left from the previous packaging.
True to innovation in all areas, Daterra is launching a new coffee! Stardust is now a part of the Collection Daterra menu and is a natural coffee with notes of ripe yellow fruits, ripe pineapple, nectarine, apricot, and peach with a beautiful sweetness and body.
Daterra said, “we love all our coffees, but we have a special crush on our naturals! As we see more and more people on the specialty world are getting excited about naturals as we do”
We’re looking forward to this new coffee being available in our range in the UK and EU this year!
We have planned a few visits to Daterra this year, so if you are interested in joining, please let us know. Not only will we learn more about Daterra’s fantastic work, but we’ll also taste the results from this year’s Solar Spectrum Fermentation project.
Daterra, as always, is welcoming everyone with open arms: “There is so much going on at Daterra, in research, new genetics, new processing methods, sustainability projects, and so on, that only coming here and spending a few days with the team, would make it possible for us to share everything with you! Besides that, our cheese bread alone is enough of a good reason to visit the farm!”.
For this year’s Daterra offer list, or to learn more about DRWakefield’s Daterra range, get in touch with the Trade team.