Brazil Coffee: The best beans in the world?

Brazilian Flag on White Background

Would you like another cup of Brazil coffee? For sure! After all, when it comes to coffee, Brazil is the undisputed world leader.

Brazil_Coffee_Beans

In the fifty years that Brazil has been producing and marketing coffee, it has built its coffee industry to such an extent that it now produces approximately 2/3rds of the world's annual supply. But not many people know that Brazil is the world's second largest consumer of the tasty brew!

And more should! Brazil uses both a variety of types of coffee beans, different drying processes and unique growing regions.

In fact, many types of Brazilian coffee beans are found in coffee shops, home kitchens, and supermarkets worldwide. You can find them in exclusive coffee brands, and in innocuous blends. So we really have to thank the Brazilians for being generous with their coffee and allowing so much of it to be exported!

Origins of Coffee in Brazil

It is ironic that the coffee plant isn't native to the country that produces the most on earth. Francisco de Melio Palheta from Cayenne, French Guiana supposedly smuggled it into the country in 1727 although the rumor has never been substantiated.

Nevertheless, Brazil provides the rich soil and the hot humid climate that coffee plants thrive in. And the rest is history. Today, Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world and many varietals are grown throughout the country.

Robusta and Arabica Beans, too

Brazilian_Coffee_Beans

Because Brazil doesn't have the high altitude of most producing countries, the beans are less acidic tasting. The low altitude fields produce both Arabica and Robusta beans.

Arabica are the type of beans you might find in high-end products available in up-scale coffee shops and in grocery stores or in premium or specialty brands. Around eighty percent of that coffee is Arabica.

Robusta beans are used in instant coffees and are generally considered to be of lower quality, which explains why instant never seems to have the body and richness of brewed coffee. Robusta makes up about 20% of Brazil's annual crop.

Top Quality – Small Farming

While the beans produced in Brazil were once primarily used for blending with other coffees, Brazil has now developed a reputation as a stand-alone coffee with its own unique characteristics.

Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world, growing about twenty five percent of the world's supply, despite the fact that the majority of farms in Brazil are small, less than ten hectares. 

Brazilian coffee trees flower about three times a year and are harvested shortly thereafter. The beans are sorted from high quality for better blends to lesser quality for mass-produced coffee.

Growing Regions

There are two main growing districts for Brazil coffee in Brazil, Serra Abaixo below the mountains and Serra Acima above the mountains. In recent years the Serra Acima area has faced drought that produced inferior quality beans.

Because coffee needs a combination of heat and humidity, minimal rainfall and ideal altitude for reasonable quality, it can be a very fickle crop in such difficult circumstances.

Even when things go right, the size of each region and the differences in climate from region to region are significant enough to have a profound effect on the flavor of the beans.

Coffee Processing and Origins

Roaster cooling coffee beans

Brazil coffee is processed using wet, dry, and semi-washed processes.  Thanks to the weather in Brazil, most beans are processed using the natural (dry) method. 

Dry processing produces coffee that is dried while it is still in the cherry, creating a sweet, smooth, complex flavor in the beans that is a favorite among coffee drinkers. In the dry method, coffee beans are dried while still in the fruit; this brings out the sweet, smooth nuances but it is a time-consuming process.

Wet processing removes the 4 layers that are around the bean and produces a fruitier, cleaner coffee. Sun-drying, though more economical and used more widely, doesn't produce the quality of coffee preferred by restaurants and discerning coffee lovers.

As with any other type of coffee the flavor is largely dependent on the method used to process it.  Once the beans are picked and processed, unique flavor profiles begin to develop that are specific to the region where the beans were grown and processed.  

Brazil Coffee Traditions

In Brazil, coffee is enjoyed with breakfast and lunch and after dinner.  Brazilians use the term cafezinho, which is Portuguese for "little coffee".  Many Brazilians even take a special break, called "cafezinho hour" in which they enjoy strong coffee served in tiny cups. 


Coffee_Bean_Direct_Brazilian_Santos Coffee Bean Direct Brazilian Coffee Beans

Organi_Camano_Island_Coffee_Brazil Organic Camano Brazilian Coffee (Dark Roast, Organic)

Drinking these tiny cups of heavily sweetened and very strong coffee is a far different experience than the traditional "American" style that we are accustomed to, but the ceremony surrounding the beverage shows the love that Brazilians have for coffee.

Modern Flavors: Pushing the Flavors

Brazilian manufacturers have been experimenting with a new method, called the re-passed method, for processing beans.  When the coffee cherries are picked, they are placed into a vat of water and any cherries that float are usually discarded. 

Recently, though, the re-passed (also called 'raisin') coffee beans have a flavor profile that many coffee drinkers find to be far sweeter than traditional coffees because of the extended ripening time before fermentation begins. You can read more about these methods for Coffee Processing.

Santos Beans: Best Brazil coffee

The Brazilian Santos Coffee are perhaps the best known coffee beans, from the port of the same name and harvested from the original plants that were imported from French Guiana. These beans produce the highest quality coffee, and are considered the best Brazil has to offer. Bourbon Santos is considered the best while Flat Bean Santos is of lesser quality but still acceptable to most coffee drinkers.

Altitude also matters, as beans grown at lower altitudes pick up ashy, bitter flavors. If you can find a Brazilian City to Full City roast, you'll be drinking the best Brazil has to offer; the light roast is deliciously nutty and the dark is smooth and chocolaty.

It's a favorite!

The smooth yet sweet flavor of Brazilian beans is a favorite of coffee drinkers who want a flavorful roast without the bitterness that some coffees have.  Brazilian coffee is one of the primary beans used in most espresso blends, partly due to the low acidity and strong flavor profile of the beans.  

Brazilian coffee has become increasingly popular thanks to many large commercial companies that market and sell Brazilian coffee blends.  These blends are found on every coffee aisle and in most coffee houses and represent the most common type of coffee that you can buy. 

I've included some samples of coffee with pure Brazilian Beans (Coffee Bean Direct Santos Coffee, Organic Camano) and blends which is more typical of Brazil coffees (Lavazza's inBlu, and Gevalia's Brazilian Estates)

However, Brazilian Coffee Beans have recently begun entering the specialty coffee market, even competing with blends produced in Ethiopia, Sumatra, and other well known exporting countries.

Other Brazil Coffee Beans

You may also find Brazil Cerrado Coffee Beans (in Organic, Green Bean, and Ground) worth trying. I'll be happy to add more suggestions ... so drop me a line with information about the Brazilian Coffees you've tried.

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