Lavazza begins the reign of ¡Tierra!

Lavazza tierra

Lavazza’s locally roasted ¡Tierra! Brazil and Colombia blends represent the roaster’s commitment to sustainability at origin.

When Marco Lavazza, Vice Chairman of the Lavazza Group, touched down in Melbourne in January for the 2019 Australian Open, it was not just to celebrate Lavazza’s third year of partnering with the tennis grand slam. The roaster had decided that the competition was the perfect platform to launch a first for the company: coffee roasted outside of Italy.

Three locally roasted coffees were on offer at the event, the single-origin Kafa Forest Coffee, and two new Rainforest Alliance-certified blends belonging to the Lavazza ¡Tierra! range – ¡Tierra! Brazil and ¡Tierra! Colombia. 

While the rest of the world’s ¡Tierra! is roasted in Italy, Cristiano Portis, Asia and Pacific Coffee Research and Development Manager and Licensed Q Grader for Lavazza, says ¡Tierra! is of special interest to the Australian community.

“They’re more than your usual coffee blends. ¡Tierra! tells a story that goes beyond flavour descriptors,” Cristiano tells BeanScene. “In a market like Australia, which is very advanced in coffee, it’s a pleasure to talk about and share this information, because the people have a deep knowledge.”

¡Tierra! is a sustainability project launched in 2002 and developed on a joint basis with Rainforest Alliance, with the aim of improving the social and environmental conditions and the production techniques of several coffee-growing communities. ¡Tierra! sustainability projects, supported by Lavazza Foundation, are primarily intended to increase coffee quality and yields, while also promoting entrepreneurship among coffee growers and improving their living conditions. 

Lavazza Tierra
¡Tierra! is a sustainability project that aims to improve the social and environmental conditions of coffee-growing communities.

In order to achieve these goals, Lavazza spreads good agricultural practices that foster coffee quality and respect for the environment, supporting coffee growers in building and managing their own organisations, and strengthening gender equality. Lavazza says organised growers gain access to broader markets, obtain services useful to improving production, and enjoy better access to credit.

Cristiano adds that ¡Tierra! allows Lavazza to demonstrate its connection to coffee producing communities.

“To Lavazza, coffee is more than just a commodity. Having a range of coffees resulting from our projects shows that we are not just buying coffee over a phone call,” Cristiano says. “We actually go to those countries, work with farmers, help the local community, and very carefully select coffee to share with our customers.”

These projects have allowed long-term relationships to develop and provided great power to producers. 

“If you actually invest in and teach people how to make their coffee better, they’re able to provide a higher quality,” Cristiano says. “I had a fantastic experience working on one sustainability project a few years ago. I went to many different origins and was working with agronomists who are on the field every day in difficult areas supporting farmers. There’s a lot of work going into improving basic practices, making irrigation better to reduce water waste, and applying fertiliser properly to enrich the soil.”

¡Tierra! Colombia includes coffee from the Lavazza Foundation’s Meta Sustainability Project in the municipality of Mesetas, conducted with local partner Carcafè. Lavazza says coffee cultivation had not been practiced for a long time due to armed conflict in the area. However, since 2013, empty plots of land have been reassigned and given back to displaced farming families with the aim of revitalising coffee production. 

Cristiano says the successful project has produced coffees that bring something new to Lavazza.

“We’ve been using Colombian coffee for a long time, but this was our first blend of only washed Arabica from Colombia,” he says. “In terms of flavour, it was different to our usual coffee. We found it had a nice acidity, with fruity notes and flowery jasmine.

“At the same time, we wanted to maintain our traditions, giving a full body to this coffee. In Italy, we are selling espresso, and in a country like Australia, 90 per cent of coffee is consumed with milk. You need a coffee with body or it vanishes.”

Lavazza Tierra
Lavazza locally roasts ¡Tierra! Brazil and Colombia distributed in Australia.

Cristiano says ¡Tierra! Brazil, on the other hand, represents the best of what consumers have come to expect from Lavazza. 

“¡Tierra! Brazil is a combination of natural and semi-washed coffee that results in tasting notes of dark chocolate, dried fruit, and sugarcane,” he says. “We developed this blend for a quintessential Italian taste. It’s been a great success through all our markets and is perfect when paired with milk. This is why it was one of the blends we chose to roast in Australia.”

The blend sources some of its Arabica from the Lambari Sustainability Project, where Lavazza – in partnership with Hanss R Neumann Stiftung – has increased the income of small-scale coffee farmers by supporting climate change adaptation and good agricultural practices. This is paired with a carefully chosen Robusta that Cristiano says provides the finishing touch.

“We looked through Brazil to find the right Robusta to bring out the best potential for this blend. We found a particular coffee called Conillon using the semi-washed process, which gave us the exact flavour we wanted,” he says.

“When we proposed roasting some of our ¡Tierra! coffees in Australia, we wanted to offer blends which would complement each other. One like ¡Tierra! Brazil, which is closer to what people expect from Lavazza, and another – ¡Tierra! Colombia – which speaks to a country like Australia that celebrates the aromatic and acidic elements of a coffee.”

Cristiano says roasting the coffee specifically for Australia has allowed Lavazza to cater to the market’s preference for the freshest coffee possible.

“With so many local roasters, Australians are used to receiving coffee within a certain time from the roast date,” he says. “While our processes and packaging ensure the quality of the coffee we are sending out from Italy, roasting in Australia means we can meet the demands of the remote market.

“Lavazza had never roasted its blends for the professional channel outside of Italy due to our strict quality control standards and we wanted to see if it could work roasting in different regions. Australia is a bit of an experiment, which is working for us so far.”

This article appears in FULL in the August edition of BeanScene Magazine. Subscribe HERE.

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