Brazilian Coffee Guide: All That You Need To Know
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The Greatness of a pure coffee
It’s not hard to find Brazilian Coffee – most of the world’s coffee comes from Brazil!
But what is coffee from Brazil really known for? How is it grown and harvested? Will they always be the world’s largest coffee producing country?
And the most important question: How do find and brew amazing Brazilian coffee from your own home?
Read on to find out how coffee in Brazil got its start, where the industry is going in the future and what sets Brazil apart from other coffee producing countries.
Some Interesting Facts About Brazilian Coffee
Brazil is a massive country.
The 5th largest country in the world by landmass (8.51 million square kilometers) and the 5th most populated country in the world (207 million).
Much of the country is still rainforest. It’s warm tropical climate make it great for growing coffee.
So what makes Brazil such a unique coffee growing country?
Brazil Produces The Most Coffee Of Any Coffee Growing Nation
For the last 150 years Brazil has been producing more coffee (1) than any other country in the world.
In 2016, Brazil produced 2,595,000 metric tons of coffee, where as Vietnam, the 2nd largest producer of coffee stood at 1,650,000 metric tons. Ethiopia (#5 on the list) only produced 384,000 tons.
Brazil and Ethiopia are the only coffee producing countries that have a significant coffee consumption. Most other coffee producing countries export most of their coffee and hardly drink any themselves.
Fun fact: Brazil is also the largest consumer of coffee. Yet on a per capita basis it is the 14th largest consumer.
Slavery [Might Still Exist] On Coffee Plantations
Coffee arrived in the nation in the mid-1700’s by French settlers. As time passed, coffee eventually became Brazil’s largest export, passing sugar cane.
By 1840, Brazil was producing more coffee than any other country, and plantation owners became very wealthy.
Brazil has been very progressive in the coffee industry and protecting farmers, but sometimes farms can slide under the radar and treat migrant workers like slaves.
The largest farms are so advanced in their practices and technologies that they are frequently monitored by different agencies to meet certain certifications, and the smallest farms are typically run by families.
It’s the medium sized farms that are at the highest risk of slave like conditions, such as long workdays, lack of proper shelter, and debt bondage.
Be aware of this when buying direct – you don’t want to be supporting that shit!
The coffee growing regions of Brazil (4) are nestled alongside the Atlantic Coast in the southeast region of the country.
These areas receive moderate sunlight and rain with steady temperatures year round, which are great for growing both Arabica and Robusta beans.
What Brazil lacks, however, is the higher elevations, which tend to produce better coffee. Because of the lower elevations, farms can grow more coffee, faster.
They can also grow Robusta beans. The result is more quantity, but not necessarily high quality coffee.
The country is investing time and money to produce better drying technologies to speed up the process and to protect the beans from prolonged fermentation.
Brazilian fun fact: Brazil also has the ideal weather conditions for dry (or natural) processed coffee. Therefore, most of the coffee produced in Brazil is processed naturally.
Brazil also processes a significant amount of their coffee via the pulped natural method, which combines the best characteristics of wet and dry processed methodologies.
Due to the low humidity, Brazil has mastered this processing method and produces the best pulped natural coffees around the globe.
Flavor Characteristics And Tasting Notes
Coffee from Brazil tends to be low in acidity, smooth in body with sweet flavors.
These flavors are primarily chocolatey and nutty. These can range from milk chocolate to bitter cocoa and toasted almond.
Some of the higher quality, specialty grade coffees that grow at higher elevations can contain subtle citrus notes and other brighter fruit characteristics. It’s very rare to find a Brazil with a bright, juicy acidity.
Don’t miss beans from the following regions of Brasilia:
Brazil Santos is the most well known specialty grade coffee from the nation. The name Santos comes from the port that the coffee of this region travels through.
Santos, is thus a general identifier, but represents some of the best coffee Brazil has to offer (it doesn’t automatically imply the coffee is excellent, so buy from reputable roasters).
Carmo de Minas is another wonderful coffee from Brazil. Carmo de Minas is located in the southern part of Minas Gerais state, which has fertile soil and slightly higher elevations than much of the country.
The coffee produced here may have a bit more acidity with some soft fruit notes, backed by a sweet chocolatey body.
Estate coffee’s from Brazil are those grown at specific, high quality farms in the country. When you see the word “estate,” it can be traced back to that specific farm and family.
Many of these coffees are those that win awards, so if you see one, be sure to pick it up.
The Current State Of The Brazil’s Coffee Industry
As far as technology and sustainability is concerned, Brazil is one of the most developed nations (5) in terms of coffee production.
Despite coffee production facing so many obstacles these days, Brazilian farmers continue to adapt and improve their practices.
Brazil is continuously investing in new technologies to increase efficiency and quality on the farms and is trying to ensure coffee farmers are well cared for, paid right and given ample opportunity.
70-80% of the coffee produced in Brazil is Arabica.
The rest is Robusta.
For a country that produces so much coffee, with a relatively low growing elevation, not all coffee is great. In fact, most of the coffee produced is not good. But it all serves a purpose: Most specialty roasters purchase Brazil’s for their blends.
These coffee’s are full bodied, sweet and low in acidity, so they can blend them with coffee’s that have a light body and brighter flavor notes to achieve a balanced cup or the perfect espresso.
Brazil is also the world’s largest exporter of instant coffee (6).
Between 10-20% of all coffee exported by Brazil is instant coffee. Instant coffee is usually made up lower quality coffees.
In 1960, coffee was Brazil’s top export, accounting for nearly 60% of all of the country’s exports. In 2006, coffee accounted for 2.5% of the country’s exports.
Brazilian fun fact: While Brazil’s dependence on coffee has come down quite dramatically, it’s the most significant player in the coffee industry today.
The Best Way To Brew Methods For Brazilian Coffee
The best coffees from Brazil have a full body, low acidity and notes of sweet chocolate and toasted nut. There are multiple ways of enjoying this type of coffee to the fullest.
The french press is known for brewing coffee with a full, heavy body.
Because the french press is a full immersion brewer, the coffee sit’s in the water for up to 5 minutes.
This doesn’t do so well with highly acidic coffee, as it can taste sour and muddy. But It is perfect, however for coffees that are naturally lower in acidity.
It also helps to pronounce the sweet chocolate notes of the coffee.
Almost every traditional espresso blend has Brazilian beans in it.
Why? These beans are just made for espresso. Again, it’s the full, sweet, chocolately character that helps to make the perfect shot of espresso.
Brazil’s do great as cold brew for the same reasons listed above.
Most people want their cold brew to be smooth and refreshing. Brazilian beans excel and smooth and refreshing, especially when brewed cold.
Most Suitable Roast Type For Brazilian Beans
Brazilian beans can handle whatever you prefer.
If you like a lighter roast, you will get a smooth, low acid, chocolatey and nutty cup of coffee. It will be easy drinking.
If you like a darker roast, these beans can handle that as well. The dark roast will really highlight the full body and the toasted nut character.
The chocolatey notes may go from a milk chocolate sweetness to a bitter sweet cocoa.
These coffee beans are versatile and you can enjoy them anyway you like.
Brazilian beans tend to have a low bean density which may make roasting a bit trickier than other coffees. You simply need to pay attention while roasting and not go too fast.
Since these beans are softer, applying lower heat for a longer period of time will make for a balanced roast, as opposed to high heat quickly, which may just scorch the beans.
Aproveite, Meu Amigo! (Enjoy, My Friend)
Brazilian coffee is technically the most popular coffee in the world. It’s everywhere, especially in the United States. We get most of their exports. Chances are, there’s a good Brazil out there for you.
The coffee has it’s own unique profile and its characteristics will only be improving as time goes by and Brazil invests more and more in their coffee industry.
Have a favorite coffee from Brazil? Where’d you get it?