What is the problem with the coffee industry?
- Brazil accounts for over 50% of the global arabica coffee crop. Such a significant portion of the global crop coming from one country means that each year Brazil defines the global market.
- Coffee in Brazil is primarily grown using industrialised monocrop farming practices. Raising a single crop has significant drawbacks; making a less attractive habitat for animal species and degrading the soil quality.
- Extreme weather conditions in the last 50 years have destroyed roughly half of Brazil’s coffee trees, leaving Brazil’s wildlife and the world’s coffee industry vulnerable. Committing to responsible sourcing which supports the coffee producers and the environment is not only the right thing to do but a necessity for the specialty coffee industry to continue.
What are we doing to fix it?
Sombra, meaning “shade” in Portuguese is a pioneering agroforestry project in Brazil between Volcano Coffee Works, our green coffee partner, Fazenda Mio and the Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo. The initiative aims to reconfigure the conventional full-sun production system for coffee growing and create a template for all farmers to use which shows the benefits of agroforestry as an alternative to monocrop farming.
Over 5 years we will reforest over 60,000 trees and coffee plants in 15 Hectares of farmland. The 3 tree species (cedar, macadamia and guapuruvu) that will be planted will protect the coffee plants from high temperatures, winds, frosts and extended dry periods and will also increase soil moisture and air humidity.
The focus is developing a highly sustainable and integrated management of different plant species to enable coffee and native birds to thrive together. As well as being on the ground, helping plant the trees, we are funding the whole project. We are paying premiums on all coffee bought from Mio to support the Sombra project. This means every purchase of our Sombra coffee goes towards funding this project.
Together, we aim to find solutions to protect against climate change impacting coffee and surrounding wildlife.
The Sombra Project Timeline
Stage One/Year One
- Reforest all land which surrounds the natural water sources such as creeks, rivers, natural reservoirs, rivers etc. This is critical in order to establish and protect clean water systems
- Plant all non coffee trees on a systematic grid laid out by species, with proximity enough to allow for mechanised picking and drone application of fertilizer and allowing to achieve canopy stratification
Stage Two/Year Two
- Plant all coffee trees once 12-month growth on canopy trees is achieved
- Reforest all remaining land that surrounds coffee plants to complete a contiguous forest system
Stage Three/Year Three
- First harvest and cultivation of the coffee cherry
- Research into the coffee crop produced with a focus towards:
- How to manage and scale the harvest
- Analysis of relationships between coffee and trees species, their root systems, and the effect this has on the yield and quality of the crop
III. Sensory analysis over the variants of coffee species and also nuts & fruits from other trees incorporated into the project
Stage 4/Year 4
- Continuation of research
- Complete and publish formal data sets and findings from the project
- Create a farming practice template with commercial models to accredit the project as a legitimately recognised carbon-negative practice
Stage 5/Year 5
- Implement Sombra methodology across the entirety of the remaining coffee production areas at Fazenda Mio
The Sombra Launch Event
To celebrate the launch of Sombra we will be hosting an event on the 14th September at our Brixton home. We will host our pioneering Brazilian green coffee partner, Fazenda Mio for an evening of talks and tastings of our new blend, Sombra.
Get tickets here.
Sombra Coffee Available Now
Awaken your senses with a cup that's rich and a little bit fruity. Our single-origin Brazilian espresso, Sombra has notes of plum, hazelnut, dark chocolate and toffee in milk.
Shop Sombra now.
Learn more about Fazenda Mio and the project here.