Brazilian Coffee Overview
In the early 1800s, coffee arrived in Brazil from French Guiana. Since then, coffee production has grown enormously, truly putting Brazil on the world coffee map. Brazil is, indeed, a vast country with a vibrant cultural identity and the world's tenth-largest economy, thanks in part to its status as the world's largest coffee producer. Brazil, mostly in the states of Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, and Sao Paulo, produces around a third of the world's coffee. They also consume rather a lot of it themselves, supping away around 45 to 50 per cent of what they produce. After the United States, Brazil drinks more coffee per person than anywhere else in the world.
Brazilian coffee typically varies in terms of quality ranging from low altitude robusta to high altitude experimental process microlots with cupping scores over 90. This is probably the most diverse coffee producing origin in the world.
Brazil Fazenda Paraiso (photo credit: DR Wakefield)
Coffee plants grow in rich soil and a hot, humid climate, which Brazil provides in abundance. Brazil's low-altitude fields contribute to the production of both arabica and robusta beans, but the crop is mainly arabica, which is mostly dry-processed (natural processed). The robusta is grown in the northern part of Brazil, where the landscape is flatter and the climate is cooler, and it is shaded from the sun's direct rays. Instant coffees typically use Robusta beans, which are usually considered to be of lower quality. Robusta accounts for roughly 20% of Brazil's annual harvest. In the higher terrains of southern Brazil, the best arabica, which is considered a higher grade of Brazilian coffee, is grown. Arabica coffee accounts for around 80% of the total.
There are significant large areas in Brazil dedicated to coffee production. One of the most well know Brazilian coffees is simply titled 'Brazil Santos' and is named after the port of export rather than a producer or region. Traditionally coffee in Brazil was blended into massive lots making traceability quite challenging. Large estate farms tend to be easier to source coffee from but in the last 10-15 years traceability has improved significantly and it is now possible to find great speciality coffees from groups of small producers or from smaller estate farms. We work directly with Fazenda Inhame, a small family owned farm.
Coffee is well know for producing natural and pulped-natural coffees.
- Pulped Natural: The outer layer of the coffee cherry is removed using a pulping machine. Coffee is then dried and this will often take place on large concrete patios. This method is very similar to 'honey processed' coffee.
- Natural: The coffee is harvested and dried, usually on large concrete patios like in the image below take at Brazil Fazenda Inhame.
The best brazilian coffee is know for a distinctive flavour profile that often features nut and chocolate notes. Really good coffees from Brazil will often have complex flavours that include cashew, almond, chocolate and balanced fruit notes that could include stone fruit or dried fruits like raisin and prune. Coffees tend to be fairly low in acidity perhaps due to the lower average altitudes and processing methods.
This isn't always the case though and there are farms in Brazil that produce washed coffees and experiments like anaerobic fermentation and these coffees can showcase a very diverse range of flavours. We try to source a range of coffees from Brazil that include complex processing methods and cup of excellence.
Inhame produces some of the best Brazilian coffee, about 500 x 60kg bags of speciality grade coffee every year. We were able to purchase over half their total production for the most recent 2020 harvest. By working directly with producers we are able to ensure that our purchase makes a real difference and that we are paying a sustainable price with the majority of the money-making it’s way back to the farmer.