Our Head Roaster, Roosa Jalonen, heads out to Brazil to visit the farms we source our coffees from.
I started in coffee as a barista some 8 years ago, devoting my time to learning how to brew and eventually roast. I’ve always longed to visit coffee origins and head out to the farms we source our coffees from. The opportunity finally came in November 2018 when I ended up spending a week visiting two coffee farms in Brazil, starting with the country’s leading coffee farm, Daterra, located in the Cerrado Region of Brazil.
To give an idea of its prestige, Emi Fukahori, the 2018 World Brewers Cup Champion used Daterra’s coffee Frevo in the competition finals. Daterra is the first farm in the world to receive the Rainforest Alliance Level A Certification, the highest sustainability standard. I was keen to see the Farm’s focus on sustainable farming and transparency, which directly aligns with Kiss the Hippo’s core values.
Daterra hosted me for the first three days of the trip. We were given a tour of the Farm and the areas where Daterra grows its “Classic” coffees, with a tasting to boot. These are the typical type of Brazilian coffees often used in blends that are described as nutty, chocolaty and sweet.
The second day focused on Daterra’s farming practices as well as learning how they process their coffees. We were given the opportunity to taste, or as we call it ‘cup’, their “Collection” coffees which make up 25% of their entire production. These coffees are slightly higher scoring coffees compared to the Classic ones. They are often used as single origins as you wouldn’t want to mix these high scoring coffees, and are also fruitier and contain more citrus notes than the Classic coffees.
The afternoon brought about a coffee moment to treasure. Our freshly brewed cup of coffee came with the most delicious Pão de queijos, Brazilian cheese bread, and was enjoyed on the Farm’s outdoor terrace, complete with spectacular views across a waterfall.
The third day was spent ‘cupping’ all of the “Masterpieces” coffees of Daterra, which are the experimental, small lots. These cup-profiles are not typical of Brazilian coffee, and I was truly blown away by some of them. It demonstrated how new, exciting flavours can be created from investing in production innovation. One of these experimental lots was processed like wine, and replicated the tang and body of a light red wine; it was utterly delicious.
Just before heading off, the Daterra Team had a little surprise in store. They kindly allowed us to plant our own tree in the backyard of the main building: Kiss the Hippo’s tree “Unha de Vaca” was specifically chosen for its hoof-like shape.
From Daterra I continued my coffee farm adventure to the region of Carmo de Minas, visiting the farms where Carmo coffees are produced. When I wasn’t talking about coffee with my co-traveller and new friend Patrick Varga the 2018 Slovakian Latte Art Champion, I spent most of the 14-hour journey admiring the luscious, green landscape enveloping the Minas Gerais region.
I was keen to visit Carmo as one of our coffees from last year, Sitio Grota São Pedro, came from one of their lots. I wanted to see their coffee making process in the flesh and try and learn more about how it is grown, having roasted it right at the end of the chain in Richmond. The Carmo Coffee Farm couldn’t have been more different from that of Daterra’s in terms of landscape and production scale. It was so lovely to experience both of these farms in their own beautiful locations.
There is something incredible about meeting the people responsible for the coffee at the very beginning of the process. It’s this direct contact and insight that we really value at Kiss the Hippo. I feel privileged to have witnessed the diversity in coffee farming within the same country and to have gained a better understanding of the early stages of the process.
Brazil was a real learning curve and an eye-opening experience. I’m looking forward to my next origin visit.
Roosa, Q Grader and Head Roaster