We’re excited to be introducing a new and very special coffee to our lineup: say hello to the Colombia Las Brisas, newly arrived in our roastery.
But what makes it so special (aside from the fact that it tastes really good)? Let us explain.
It is undeniable that coffee has a high carbon footprint. From the processing, which can use a lot of water, to the transport and then the roasting and packaging, there’s a lot of room for improvement. There are aspects that we can influence—solar panels on our roastery, compostable packaging, buying sustainable green coffee—but there’s much more that takes place completely outwith our control.
Take shipping: the coffee has to get from the farm in Africa or Latin America to our roastery in Scotland somehow, and the simplest, most efficient, and cheap way has always been the cargo ship. These ocean-going behemoths carry goods all around the world, only occasionally getting stuck in canals, and are the backbone of global trade with 90% of the things we consume being transported via ship.
They also emit a whole heap of carbon—if it was a country, shipping would rank sixth for contributions to climate change—in addition to all sorts of other nasty contaminants like wastewater and black carbon.
As the world grapples with the current and worsening climate crisis, figuring out how to deal with the shipping part of the coffee industry will become ever more urgent. One possible solution, albeit on a small scale, has been in use for hundreds of years and is now seeing a resurgence: the humble sailboat.
At Glen Lyon we are always looking for ways to shrink our carbon footprint, from the straightforward to the unconventional—when we heard that New Dawn Traders had returned with a cargo of coffee from Colombia on their most recent voyage, we jumped at the chance to try something new: coffee transported using only the wind.
Best of all, the Colombia Las Brisas is exceptional—we’ve been seduced by its dark brown sugar sweetness and notes of blackberry and juicy peach.
New Dawn Traders, a broker and importer based in Falmouth in Cornwall, partners with various vessels to ship olive oil, wine, honey, and of course coffee around the world. Las Brisas comes from the department of Tolima high in the Andes, the third-largest coffee-producing region in Colombia.
Las Brisas, which translates as “The Breezes” in English, and is named for the winds that blow up from the Rio Blanco river and waft the fragrance of coffee blossom through the fields. Produced by a cooperative of 15 farmers who are paid significantly above the market rate for this coffee, 50% of Las Brisas is grown under shade which increases biodiversity and reduces the need for fertilisation.
The coffee set sail from the Colombian port of Santa Marta in early February, traversing the Caribbean and Atlantic before arriving into Penzance harbour at the end of April. It was transported aboard Gallant, a characterful schooner built in the Netherlands and first launched in 1916.
Gallant has lived many lives over the past century, working originally as a herring lugger before becoming a cargo ship and then being completely restored and transformed into its current form in the late 80s. Today it transports cargo across the Atlantic while also offering sail training and scientific missions.
It’s been a long voyage, but we’re delighted to have partnered with New Dawn Traders to bring this delicious coffee to our community. We only have a limited amount available, so don’t miss your chance to sample some great—and sustainably shipped—coffee.