Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
A sure shot, whether you get it as an espresso or brewed by the cup
If you have had a cappuccino, a latte, or a shot of espresso here at Zingerman’s in the last 18 years, it’s pretty certain that you’ve enjoyed a cup of this marvelous coffee made with the great green beans we buy from the Pascoal family and the team at Daterra near the town of Uberlandia in Brazil.
The story of Daterra—which means “of the Earth” in Portuguese—begins in 1908 when an Italian immigrant from the Pugliese town of Bari, by the name of Donato, settled in Brazil and started what we might now call a specialty food shop. Shortly after, he began to roast coffee. Over time, the Pascoal family history shifted from coffee to a range of other work and then, in 1976, came back to coffee farming. For many years now it’s been led by Luis Pascoal and his daughter Isabela.
Everything about the work of Daterra is exceptional—organic growing, Rainforest Alliance certification, health care and education for the staff and their families, and a whole lot more. Daterra’s values are, like so many of our long-time suppliers, very much aligned with ours here. The quality of their beans is consistently exceptional, and it shows through in the coffee. (We also get the exceptional Sweet Yellow—Jenny says get it in a press pot!—and Brazil Peaberry from them as well.) Here’s how Luis described the espresso to me on a visit a few years ago, and I think it still stands today:
Aroma: Full with a hint of dark berry fruit.
Taste: Sweet berry and fine creamy dark chocolate tastes allow for a perfect cup of espresso but also support a milk-based drink such as latte or mocha.
Aftertaste: Long, smooth-chocolaty finish with a hint of sweet caramel-vanilla notes.
This espresso blend is elegant and mysterious, rather than bold and harsh. The drinker can linger over this empty cup and almost smell themselves into satisfaction.
To explain this last point, Luis is adamant about the importance of turning the cup over after you drink the espresso. Let it sit for a minute or two with the open part of the cup against the surface of the counter, then flip it over and check the aromas. What you find in the aromatics will show you, Luis taught me years ago, a lot about the quality of the coffee.
All of what I’ve been writing in recent weeks about culture and soil is close to the heart of the Pascoal family and the people who are part of Daterra:
Daterra was conceived in the 80s, when the term “sustainability” was not even popular as it is today. However, the Daterra Coffee project was planned to produce specialty coffee, grounded on environmental preservation and social development. When we settled down in Cerrado [where they farm], the estates were in very poor condition from both agronomical and environmental perspectives. Our relationship with the soil, the water, workers, community, and everything that surrounds us, is just as important as our relationship with quality and with our clients around the world. The journey was not easy or fast, but strong enough to really sustain our dream. The Triple Bottom Line concept “People, Planet, and Profit” required 20 years of investment and resilience to be completed!
Come by the Next Door Cafe and grab a shot or a cappuccino. It’s quite lovely in a Chemex—chocolatey, clean finish, really nice toasty aroma, a bit of the dark berry fruit that Luis mentioned. The Clever method brings out more of the chocolate and less of the fruit. Experiment on your own with press pots, syphons, pour overs. and more. As per our Big Brew Board work, each brewing style will bring out different flavor notes from the spectacular beans that the folks at Daterra have worked so hard, and so long, to grow.