The week that was at Zentveld’s Coffee Farm & Roastery

Farm News

Mostly wet, sunny for a bit, then damp again. That’s our autumn so far. 

Delightfully cool, perfect for working outside, if it wasn’t so damn boggy.

There’s minimal driving down the coffee rows, as we dont want to compact the soil, even between the trees. The rows end with natural springs, down by the creek, so any tractor or bike and trailer might get stuck in the mud, literally. We want to keep the grasses all strong and pretty high, as they soak up the extra moisture and create that soft, effective ground cover. Not driving on them is a good starter. 

So what have the Guys been up to?

Planting cover crops to much success! The ‘new block’ is being prepared for it’s plantings with the new varietals next year. Marsellesa, IPR107 and Paraiso if you want to know.

What seeds are we planting for cover crops? We go for ‘the more the better’ strategy, and buy bags of premixed open pollinating seasonal seed blend from Williams, and add extra goodies we may have in stock, such as radish, clover, sunflower and buckwheat. I can never get too much of buckwheat. 

Buckwheat : so small, but vigorous – first up, first to flower, crazy pyramid- hexagonal (?) shaped seed will drop in place which we like. A bit of free self seeding, if you can leave it go to seed – but  now our wallabies are choosing to eat the flower heads too! It is thought that animals will select ‘what they need’ – nutrient wise. The wallabies have a superb salad bar selection of grasses and now covercrops on our farm. They are choosing to go for the buckwheat first up, when in flower. I wonder if the phosphorus relationship that buckwheat brings (uniquely unlocking it in the soil and making it available to nearby plants) – is transferrable as a nutrient available to those that eat it?

More research is needed! 

One of my key questions as a Grower and chief Looker-Afterer of the land on which we farm is .. can we measure what nutrients the cover crops bring? Buckwheat unlocks available phosphorous .. I want to know how much!

Bec’s cover crop rave of the day : We know are cover crops do good, we believe they do good for all sorts of reasons I have written about before. Holding water, releasing it slowly. Reducing erosion or top soil loss to wind or drying out. Adding diversity of plant life, feeds loads more delicious sugars to be selected by a wider mix of microbial life below the soil that in return transfer nutrients to our plants above. Cover crops allowed to flower become an insectory, attracting predatory bugs (good guys generally follow a few bad guys) and our native and honey bee pollinators. Bird life and lizards are well fed. So creating a habitat and feeding life above the soil, as well as below. We will continue to plant a range of cover crops in between our coffee rows, but it would be good to have some guidelines or measured outcomes on just how much goodness they bring! Singularly, by plant species as well as exponentially, as a collective group of plantings.

This we wish to share with other Growers so they too will get cover cropping.  What if we ‘grew nitrogen’ rather than applied it as a fertilzer? That is the truth I believe now – that you grow it, not apply it.

Move on from monoculture farming and using expensive chemical fertilizers and get on with adding biodiversity to the land, above and below the soil. Our crops and the land we look after will be all the better for it.

Lets grow more stuff together. 

MICE ! Melbourne International Coffee Expo 2024

John & I had 3 full days in our old stomping ground of Melbourne, for the MICE – Melbourne International Coffee Expo.
Small but useful is how I’d describe MICE this year. Not overwhelming like it can be attending the mega SCA Specialty Coffee Association trade shows we’ve attended, especially in the U.S.

What was useful? Getting to touch and feel what’s new in grinders and machines. Ditto for the latest brew tools for the home or cafe barista. 
What did I love? New Mazzer grinders. Especially the Mazzer grind by weight, Kony Sg model. Adjusts quickly to grind change, no over or under dosing. Minimise wastage for sure. Finishes accurately within 0.1gram of the dose you set by weight. Nice. Neat and stylish on the bench too. 
Chatted the range with Luigi Mazzer, 3rd gen Grinder manufacturer. Humble gentleman, of old school Italian hospitality with good engineering focus. Not surprisingly his fav model grinder was the Mazzer Major ‘ferrari’ model with red go fast features .. the flat blade set up spin slower at 900 revs, so doesn’t get hot, but grinds fast. Good for body and depth of flavour, Luigi reckons. Burr grinders are sweeter. Hmm.. I need to test more! Always so much to dig into.

And then there’s the Philos single dose. .. Oh my! So cute, yet fast enough, easy enough to to use and drop out extra grains from one origin to the next, that I reckon we can introduce it to our coffee house, and allow our visitors to select any of our coffees they want to taste. Work your way through the range in one sitting if you want! 

I’ll share some thoughts on machines and barista tools we saw, next blog.

1 comment

    So inspiring to hear about your cover crops. I am part way through Gabe Brown’s (regenerative farmer in USA) book “Dirt to Soil”, he would love what you are doing, and certainly agree about fertilizer. Oh and we love your coffee!

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193 Broken Head Road, Newrybar NSW 2479

(02) 6687 2045 | [email protected]

OPEN Monday to Friday 8-4pm 

Parking available with ramp access. Dog Friendly. BYO food.

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