Our Daterra Farm North and South Italian Espressos are revelations of how far
single-origin espressos can go in clarity (a prerequisite for true complexity),
complexity, richness, body, depth and persistence.
These exciting single estate espressos are the results of groundbreaking research and development at Daterra Farm. Our two espressos are complex blends of Arabica varieties (mainly Yellow Catuai, Icatu 3282, Mundo Novo and Yellow Bourbon), grown in different ways on separate plots on the same farm, harvested at different stages of ripeness (0 to 3 days of peak ripeness and 3 to 5 days after) and then cured in a new controlled variant of the "natural process" to attain greater body and depth without losing the sweetness and clean cup characteristics of our earlier espressos.
Roasters of espresso coffee have long appreciated Brazil’s dry-processed coffees–called "naturals", in the trade. While low in acidity they impart heavy body and good crema to espresso. I had the great pleasure of enjoying espressos made from a rare, perfect natural Daterra Bourbon in 1998. It has been one of my great coffee memories! It was so sweet, having clean fruit flavors melded seamlessly to chocolate with bottomless depth and huge body. Those memories returned and were trumped when I tasted the new exclusive Daterra formulation for Terroir™.
So what is the "natural process" and why has Daterra tampered with it? The natural process is very simple: One simply dries the coffee fruit–which envelops the two "beans"–right on the tree or on a concrete patio for a period of approximately three weeks until stable and ready for hulling. Research has shown that the coffee beans absorb sugars from the drying fruit and therefore have greater amounts of soluble solids (Espresso Coffee, p.47, edited by Andrea Illy and Rinantonio Viani, Academic Press). Soluble solids impart body to the resultant beverage, a particularly desirable outcome for espresso.
Sadly, however, naturals have one very big drawback– inconsistent quality. The drying process takes weeks for the fruit to be thoroughly dry and ready for hulling. During this long drying process, bacterial and yeast-induced fermentation and musty-smelling mold can too easily take off. Rainfall, or even just high humidity, can trigger uncontrollable fermentation and mold formation, which concentrate around the inevitable cracks and lesions on the fruits’ surfaces. Even in the driest growing areas of Brazil, rain can fall during or just after the harvest. High humidity is even more likely, making recent efforts to use covered patios only partially effective. All too often, naturals produce cups with some degree of tainted, off-fruit flavors and/or unpleasant mustiness.
About ten years ago, a hybrid method called "the pulped-natural method" was developed in response to these quality issues. By removing the fruit’s skin (depulping) and then drying the mucilage-covered coffee for one day on covered patios and then finishing the process in a matter of hours by using mechanical dryers, growers have dramatically reduced the dangers of wild fermentation. This method has led to prize-winning coffees–both in the Cup of Excellence™ competitions and the Illy® competitions. While attaining far higher quality consistency and producing more pronounced aromatic characteristics, pulped-natural coffees are slightly more acidic and less dense in body than traditional naturals. They make great drip coffee and are excellent components for espresso–but they lack completeness as a self-drinking espresso. Enter Daterra’s latest entry, which they call the Penta® System.
One of the key components of both the North and South Italian Espressos is a blend of several Arabica varieties that were harvested around three to five days after peak ripeness when sugar content in the fruit is at its highest. The coffee cherries, as we call the fruit in our business, are a very dark red at this stage and the beans’ acidity in the cup is reduced. The harvested fruit is then put through a process unique to Daterra in such a way as to more efficiently aim the migration of the sugars towards the beans in a completely natural but controlled fashion. The beans are then placed on covered drying racks. I do not know the understandably protected details but I am truly impressed by the results! This enriched coffee has huge body and a deep, rich, yet clean-fruity flavor.
Another component of the Daterra-Terroir™ espressos are Yellow Catuai Arabicas that have been harvested at peak and then processed with the same Penta® System, yielding a brighter cup with nutty marzipan notes. Yet a third component is added to the North Italian Espresso; this is a specially cultivated, extremely low-yield Terroir™ Reserve. It adds point and floral notes to this lightly roasted, rich espresso. Finally, unlike any other coffee I know of, these green Daterra coffees were vacuum-packed in metal-foil bags in Brazil. We cupped the new arrivals against the same coffee packed in the traditional jute bags and the difference was dramatic.
The Daterra coffees are produced under the strict rules for sustainable coffee with certifications from the Rainforest Alliance and ISO 14001. Enjoy!