June 10, 2015

The History of Brazilian Coffee & the Story Behind ‘Daterra Full Bloom’


I am a Chemex lover. However, some coffees just taste so much better brewed through an AeroPress or espresso. Daterra ‘Full Bloom’ is one of those coffees and I want to take you on a tour that explores the supply chain of this beautiful coffee from seed to cup, and give praise to the individuals involved in farming, processing and roasting this coffee.

The ‘Daterra Full Bloom’ I will be reviewing was roasted by The Coffee Collective. I have been eagerly awaiting the coffee to arrive on my doorstep ever since I clicked on the order button. Now that I have finally brewed it I will discuss the coffees characteristics, but first let us explore the history of the Brazilian coffee industry.

The History Behind the Cup

Brazil has been a massive contributor to the global coffee market for many decades now. Plants originating from Ethiopia were brought to the country as French settlers settled in Pará in the 18th century. The farming of the bean emanated from the North and quickly spread along the coasts. At that time, sugar cane was Brazil’s biggest crop and the main contributor to Brazil’s economy. When the Caribbean sugar production boomed, Brazil was unable to compete with their prices so production declined sharply. Following this, Brazil then shifted its focus to coffee production to satisfy the rapidly increasing global demand. Coffee quickly overtook cane sugar as Brazil’s most exported product by around 1820. The predominant producing region fuelling this boom was the fertile soils of Vale do Paraíba, situated in the states of both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The demand for Brazilian coffee grew rapidly, particularly in the United States and Europe. By 1840 Brazil had become the largest coffee exporter in the world. A byproduct of this was that the transformation of Brazil’s society and economy. The owners of Brazil’s largest coffee plantations now held all the power – economically, socially and politically. These ‘coffee barons’ even contributed to the proclamation of Brazil as a Republic on the 15th November 1889 – a  historic day celebrated annually to remember the end of rule under the old empire. The coffee era contributed to an era of wealth and progression for many Brazilians. Coffee attracted investments to railway infrastructure, credit expansion, development of banking infrastructure  and industrialization in general. A society and economy changed all as a result of these Brazilian coffee beans like the ones I have in front of me now.

However, there was a dark side to Brazil’s coffee era – slavery. Slavery was and unfortunately still is a concerning issue in Brazil. Only now slavery in Brazil refers to sex slavery and human trafficking, back then it was slave labour. The abolition of the slave trade in 1888 nearly destroyed Brazil’s coffee industry as many coffee slaves were rightly freed. However, the government in Brazil implemented new programs that actively encouraged European workers to come over to farm coffee on Brazilian farms. This not only increased Brazil’s status as a multi-cultural nation, but it also provided a stronger link between Brazil and the European nations who consumed its coffee.

Brazil’s coffee industry adapted after the abolition of the slave trade, but it faced a new difficult challenge during the Great Depression (1929).Due to the USA being the primary buyer of Brazilian coffee, followed by Europe, the depression hit the coffee trade like a tonne of bricks. Prices plummeted, trade diminished, and because of this many thousands of bags of Brazilian coffee beans were burned. Producers would never recover those losses. Although it may have seemed like the end of the great coffee era in Brazil, the wealth and industrial progress which coffee brought laid the foundations for other industries to flourish and adapt to changing economic demands.. Brazil still struggled both economically and politically for the next half century, but the coffee industry was not entirely destroyed and would rise again one day.

Having overcome economic and political struggles to become a flourishing economy, Brazil still remains the largest producer of coffee in the world. Brazil contributes 30% of worldwide production and produces almost three times as much as the second largest producer – Vietnam. Coffee represented 10.2% of the total  production exports from Brazil in 2011, bringing in around 7,841 billion USD. And in case you were wondering – Brazilians themselves love coffee, it’s the most consumed product by individuals over 10. It adds up to a whopping 79.7 litres of coffee per year, per person!

Daterra Farm

Now that you have learnt about the fascinating history of coffee in Brazil I want to offer a brief insight into this gem of a coffee from the Brazilian Daterra farm where ‘Full Bloom’ is farmed and processed. I had the privilege of talking to Daterra’s International Marketing and Trade Manager Gabriel Moreira to learn about Daterra’s ethos and vision for their coffee.

The coffee cherries being hand-picked at the Daterra farm,

The coffee cherries being hand-picked at the Daterra farm, by Cecilia Sanada

picked coffee cherries

Here are some of the picked coffee cherries

The Daterra farm is located towards the centre of Brazil in the Cerrado region. The farm covers 5800 hectares. The owner of the farm, Luis Pascoal, initially experimented with fruit and cattle farming, but fell in love with coffee. His love for coffee has seen him become a visionary within the Brazilian coffee industry. He has invested heavily in the farm and takes great pride in his ethical standards when it comes to coffee and his employees.. Luis’s ethos is one that is focused on “high quality, sustainable and technologically advanced coffee production”. This was clearly evident to me through my conversations with Gabriel. Daterra have developed a state-of-the-art processing system of their own known as the “Penta System”. This process provides a comprehensive approach to control each detail of the coffee quality process. I had not heard of this system before so Gabriel told me all about it.

Daterraa coffee farm sign

The now well known Daterra farm sign Credit: www.georgehorwellcoffee.smugmug.com .

The owner the Daterra farm, Luis Pascoal

The owner, and mastermind, behind the farm, Luis Pascoal. Credit: George Horwell Coffee

Most coffee production lines include up to two machines that sort for defective beans, Daterra owns five separate sorting machines that each coffee bean passes through. The first is a standard black and white sorting machine that sorts obviously defective beans. The second is a colour sorter that identifies harder to see fungi infections. The third machine identifies chemical defects that can only be seen under infrared. The fourth machine is Daterra’s newest and most impressive machine as this machine exposes each bean to three cameras which take 80 pictures of each bean using LED light. The final machine uses UV light to discover if the beans have been affected by phenolic acid, produced by the coffee plant when under stress giving the bean a rubbery taste.

Sustainability is also of high priority on Daterra’s agenda. The first thing Luis did when building the farm was to send an invite to a university to discover ways in which the farm could be eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable. Their findings resulted in the farm building natural corridors and rebuilding natural habitats in the area to make sure animals and wildlife were sustained. Daterra are so passionate about this that 3200 hectares of the 5800 hectares of land is dedicated to the environment. This enabled the farm to be “the first farm supported by the rainforest alliance” and the “second climate-friendly farm in Brazil”.

Ethics also extends to the treatment of the workers. Luis offers his workers generous pay, three substantial meals a day and good working standards. He has been doing this since before it was ever expected by consumers or coffee importers. As a result Daterra attracted threats from other farm owners who were concerned that Daterra’s fair treatment of their workers would alert their employees to the rights that they deserved.

Another example of Luis’s visionary nature was to implement high-quality packaging into his business. Daterra’s Penta® Packing vacuum sealed bags are specially gassed in order to kill bacteria. This means the coffee can be kept fresh for up to 5 years if unopened. The beans stored within the Penta® Warehouse are safe from heat, moisture, UV and infrared waves. This ingenuity does not stop there. Daterra have developed their own system known as Penta® Packing.

Daterra’s production is broken up into 75% of what they call “classics”, namely classic Brazilian coffees with big bodies containing deep notes of chocolate and nuts, with the remaining 25% dedicated to specific collections such as ‘Full Bloom’ 00 and ‘The Sweet Collection’. Less than 1% of the farm is dedicated to producing what Daterra call their ‘Masterpieces’. These are off the radar experimental coffees that are unlike any other beans.

Full Bloom is found in the high-end collections. It is particularly special because it is 100% naturally processed. You must experience this coffee to know how significant the effect of this processing method is in the cup. Most natural processed coffee possess an almost fermented taste, but Full Bloom doesn’t. It doesn’t even possess a typically Brazilian nutty and chocolate taste. This is a result of how it is dried. The extreme heat and perfect environmental conditions in this region of Brazil allows the cherries to begin to dry on the trees and not on raised beds like in Africa.

Additionally, as part of the Penta process, the beans are sun dried on heat insulated concrete patios and turned to ensure even drying. The beans are then rested in wooden barrels to ‘age’ for six weeks. Daterra even use gravity and flotation equipment to further sort beans, which had been previously sorted out by size.

Coffee processing system at the Daterra farm

Part of the intricate and mind-blowing processing system at the Daterra farm
Credit: George Horwell Coffee


Daterra’s farm has really impacted me, but I also wish to recognise the beauty behind the roasted product. After all this extremely intricate production by Daterra, the coffee is shipped to The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, Denmark – from which I sourced the coffee. The Coffee Collective “aim to set new standards for coffee brewing and serving, and to keep exploring the potential of coffee all the way from seed to cup”. They stress the link between the farmer, roaster, barista and consumer to ensure that ethical and eco-sustainable practices are implemented during the production of high-grade coffees. Direct trade between The Coffee Collective and Daterra ensures that the farmer is paid 25% over the Fair Trade recommended amount. The Coffee Collective also visit the farms each year. The Coffee Collective’s ultimate goal is for “a coffee farmer in Kenya to obtain the same status and living conditions as a wine grower in France”.

Coffee Collective cups in Copenhagen, Denmark

Coffee Collective cups in Copenhagen, Denmark Credit: Coffee Collective 

Coffee Collective, Copenhagen, Denmark

The iconic shop sign Credit: Hatch and Bloom 

The reason for the name of this business is because it is collectively owned by four people, Peter N. Dupont the managing director and green bean buyer, Klaus Thomsen the head barista trainer and manager of PR and wholesale, Casper E. Rasmussen the roaster extraordinaire and Linus Törsäter the chief designer. Alongside these guys stands Jakob Dupont (roaster), Jette Kanstrup (office coordinator) and 25 skilled baristas.

Peter N. Dupont, Klaus Thomsen, Casper E. Rasmussen and Linus Törsäter of The Coffee Collective Credit: Coffee Collective

Peter N. Dupont, Klaus Thomsen, Casper E. Rasmussen and Linus Törsäter of The Coffee Collective Credit: Coffee Collective 

The Collective’s roastery wishes to highlight how cultivation, varieties of coffee trees, soil conditions, rain, sun and wind leaves its distinct fingerprints on the coffee’s taste profile. The roastery seeks to highlight the natural taste of the coffee by roasting light, roasting each batch with care and recognising the importance of how it was processed.. The roastery houses a new Loring SmartRoast 30 kg roaster. It is also extremely environmentally friendly as it uses less energy than traditional roasters and it emits no smoke or fumes. The roaster is used every day to meet the demand for their coffee. The collective store the beans in either vacuum sealed bags or special Grain Pro bags in a wine cellar and flush each bag of roasted coffee with nitrogen to preserve the high quality. After that, the roasted batch goes under quality control, such as cupping.

Man with the Loring SmartRoast 30 kg roaster

Casper E. Rasmussen with the Loring SmartRoast 30 kg roaster Credit: Coffee Collective 

The Coffee

As I mentioned earlier, this coffee is naturally processed yet does not resemble the characteristics of any other natural I have tasted before. I’ve just finished the second bag of one of my favourite natural coffees from Ethiopia. It had a huge body with a lovely fermented taste that divides the coffee world. However, Full Bloom is nothing like that. Because the cherries start to dry on the trees at the Daterra farm in Brazil, Full Bloom possess an explosive taste of raisins and plums with a subtle hint of vanilla. Truly it has blown the taste buds out of my mouth! So often producers write ‘vanilla’, or something like that, on their coffees and I never taste anything like vanilla, but with Full Bloom’s low acidity and sweet taste it really brings the vanilla out as the coffee lingers in your mouth. The depth of flavour is incredible and it is still complemented by a silky milk chocolate undertone. The outstanding flavour is a result of the many efforts of Daterra, The Coffee Collective and the varieties contained within this lot, Mundo Novo and Catuai. Full Bloom is also grown in the Cerrado region at an altitude of 1.150 masl, and harvested by mechanical means. All these factors play a role in the final taste experience.

Red Catuai cherries

One of the varieties of the Daterra Full Bloom – Red Catuai cherries

the Mundo Novo cherries

Another one of the varieties – the Mundo Novo cherries

Brewing Guide 

What method? Aeropress, double filter

How much coffee? 19g

Brew time? 2:00 minutes

Grind? Fine

Brewing up Full Bloom through the aeropress

Brewing up Full Bloom through the Aeropress by myself, @verticalthinking

The Ritual

I have used the non-inverted method of Aeropress brewing for this particular coffee simply because it produces a more accurate extraction of this particular coffee. Firstly, place two layers of paper filters in the screw-top of the Aeropress and screw into the base. Then place the base over your decanter and fill it with boiling water to pre-wet the filter and pre-warm the cup. When the water has passed through, discard it from the cup.

Grind your beans to a fine grind and funnel them into the Aeropress. Shake to level the coffee inside the Aeropress. Now fill the Aeropress with 60g of water at 85oC and let it bloom for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, stir twice with a wooden stirrer and fill with another 190g of water. Wet the plunger of the Aeropress for a better seal, plunge briefly and pull back to ensure the coffee does not drip out too soon. When your timer reaches 1:30 plunge for the remaining 30 seconds. Now you have a delicious brew with a method you may not have tried before.

Where else can you buy this coffee?

Holland – Barista Winkel

France – Cafe Lomi

USA – Jersey Shore Coffee Roasters

Denmark – Coffee Collective

Switzerland – Mad Mimi 

Edited by N. Bhatt

Perfect Daily Grind.