Your coffee lovers guide to Brazilian coffee
Think of Brazil, and you’ll probably conjure up Samba vibes, images of the colourful carnival scenes, lush tropical vistas with stunning beaches and of course, football. Wafting in the background of all these pleasant thoughts should also be the majestic aroma of coffee.
Brazil is the world's número um (number one for our non-Portuguese speakers) coffee producer, offering up some of the most popular coffees in the industry. Below we guide you through the illustrious coffee region, before exploring two of Coffee Direct's best Brazilian coffees that you are sure to love.
The java jargon decoder
- Arabica coffee - Coffee made from the fruit of Coffea arabica plants.
- Green coffee beans - Beans that are yet to be roasted (you choose from light, medium or dark roast types).
- Robusta coffee - Coffee produced by the Coffea canephora.
- Natural coffees - Coffee cherries that are left out in the sun to dry naturally. They are not stripped of their flesh or outer skin, and the bean sits encased within the cherry.
- Pulped-natural coffees - Cherries that have had their outer skin removed, speeding up the drying process.
- Washed coffees - Cherries that have been entirely stripped of all outside layers - both skin and fruit flesh, leaving the inner bean exposed.
- Screen sorting - The process of sorting beans through a sifting system, determining their size and grade.
A little bit of Brazilian coffee history
Brazilian coffee has a somewhat romantic and legendary beginning, that can be traced back to 1727 French Guiana. Folklore has it that the Portuguese Lt. Col Francisco de Melo Palheta used his powers of seduction on the Guianese governor’s wife, persuading her to smuggle coffee seeds across the border in a bouquet of flowers. Whether or not this romantic alliance was the source of Brazil’s java story, coffee growing in Brazil exploded some years later.
Initially, coffee was mostly consumed by European colonists and grown on their Brazilian coffee farms; however, in the 1800s, increased demand from Europe and the United States, turbocharged Brazilian bean exports. By 1820, 30% of all the coffee in the world was being produced on Brazilian soil.
By the late 1800s, Asia’s coffee industry had been ravaged by a disease that killed off many of their coffee crops. The limited supply of beans from Asia meant there was a chance for Brazil to come through and take over as the largest thriving coffee-growing nation, and they capitalised on it. By 1910, a further 80% of coffee came from Brazil.
Today, Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world, accounting for 40% of the industry's produce. Costa Rican coffee production by comparison only accounts for 1% of the world's coffee beans. Brazil not only produces the largest amount of green coffee beans, but the coffee-producing region also boasts unrivalled production of arabica beans and instant coffees.
More recently, changes in governmental policies have enabled Brazilian farmers to have more freedom and flexibility over the types of coffee they grow, and where and who they sell to. These changes have increased innovation in Brazilian coffee production, which has resulted in Brazil's increased bean yields, new hybrid beans and a more comprehensive range of coffee flavours.
Where is coffee grown in Brazil?
Brazil has fourteen large coffee growing regions, spread across seven different states, mostly found in the south-east of the South American country. Over 10,000 square miles of land is used for growing a diverse variety of Brazilian coffee beans, most popularly Robusta or Arabica beans. Brazil’s land is perfect for producing great everyday varieties, speciality beans and various coffee taste profiles, and each region produces coffee with its own unique flavour profile.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the main Brazilian coffee areas in more detail:
Minas Gerais is the biggest coffee-growing state in Brazil and includes growing regions such as Cerrado, Matas de Minas, Mogiana, and Sul de Minas. Nearly half of all Brazilian coffee is grown here on small farms usually no larger than 100 hectares. Here, you’ll find farms producing some of the country’s most recognisable coffee brands and names such as Mundo Novo, Icatu, Obatã, Catuaí and Catuaí Rubi.
These varieties are grown at altitudes between 800m and 1300m, across lands that are defined by valleys with consistent mild temperatures and forested areas with warm and humid climates. Coffee produced in Minas Gerais tends to be medium to full-bodied, with a natural sweetness and fruity flavour.
Our Santos coffee hails from this region and is home to the Port of Santos - the leading coffee exporting area of Brazil. São Paulo’s land is rugged, hilly and typically described as uneven. Its climate is mild, with temperatures averaging 20 degrees across the year. The coffee grown here is known for having a balanced and sweet flavour profile.
Exclusively dedicated to growing coffee of the Robusta variety, Rondonia has a very tropical climate, with temperatures averaging out at 26 degrees. The Conilon (Robusta) beans are grown at low altitudes and have an earthy flavour with a somewhat nutty aftertaste. Typically coffees from this area, which are robust with intense flavours, end up as dark roast coffees and are great for espresso blends.
Why is Brazilian coffee so special?
When it comes to coffee in Brazil, coffee producers take the growing, drying and exporting of their coffee very seriously. When it comes to processing their coffee harvest, the best Brazilian coffee farmers go to great lengths to invest time and effort into making sure their methods produce the highest quality, best tasting coffee.
Another defining characteristic is that most Brazilian coffees are natural or pulped-natural rather than washed. Some speciality coffee cherries are even hand-picked - with only the ripest cherries being selected for harvest. After they are collected, the cherries are left out under the Brazilian sun to dry naturally. Whilst this method sounds simple, it’s far from easy to make great tasting coffee because it relies heavily on perfect weather conditions and close and constant attention to the coffee beans.
If farmers get the natural drying process right, the coffee beans produced are exceptional and will go on to become some of the best coffee products in the world. The Brazilian coffee taste will be flavoursome, with full-body, low acidity and intensely fruity notes.
Another way that Brazilian coffee differs to many others is in its classification system. Brazil has a highly complex coffee classification system which rates the beans, based on their screen sorting, colour and cupping. The rating systems put them into different categories, including:
- Strictly soft: all the qualities of a great coffee - pleasant aroma and pronounced flavour.
- Soft: smooth and balanced with a mild and sweet aroma.
- Just soft: smooth flavour but slightly ‘rugged’ flavour.
- Hard: full-bodied with a slightly sour or astringent taste.
- Riada: light in flavour.
- Rio: intense and striking flavour.
- Rio Zona: a robust aroma and flavour. Not very drinkable.
This system makes it easier for buyers to identify top-quality beans, which will result in the best cup of coffee.
The best coffee from Brazil
At Coffee Direct, our Brazilian speciality coffee beans are roasted to order and in small batches, guaranteeing the freshest cup of coffee.
If you love grinding your own beans, you can order whole beans, or if you'd prefer, we can send you expertly pre-ground coffee. Pre-ground coffee is ground to the exact grind size of popular brewing methods, such as cafetiere, filter, bean-to-cup machine and percolator.
This unique single-origin coffee is made using exclusively prepared bourbon variety cherry beans grown amongst eucalyptus trees in mineral-rich soil, 500km north of Ipanema (Rio de Janeiro).
The high-quality coffee from Brazil produces a flavour-packed, medium-bodied cup of coffee with slightly citric notes, high acidity and beautiful floral overtones. The aftertaste is also exquisite, with long lingering almond flavours.
The smooth, mellow roast has a rich aroma and gives you an authentic taste of quality Brazilian coffee. It’s also incredibly versatile, so can be enjoyed as an espresso blend with milk or on its own as a delicious black coffee.
“This is an excellent coffee, with a nutty hint and fresh smell. I enjoyed it at any time of the day. It has a medium strength and fresh flavour.”
Mark J. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Rich and smooth flavoured coffee, you shall surely enjoy drinking at any time of the day.”
David R. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“This is one of the best I've tried so far. Makes nice punchy espresso with a great crema. The flavour is not lost in a cappuccino either, so it's a good all-rounder. Will definitely buy again.”
John M. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
One of Brazil’s true speciality grade coffees, this Brazilian roast is named after the Brazilian port where its journey began. Made using the aforementioned Santos coffee beans, it's a light-bodied coffee with low acidity. Its flavours and low acidity lends itself perfectly to cafetiere or filter brews.
“A mild smooth, slightly sweet coffee which is lovely on its own or mixes with Hawaiian well.”
Miss M. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Great product. Ordered Brazilian coffee beans online for the first time and was not disappointed. Good flavour along with a good price. Fast delivery. Will use again. Recommended.”
Dennis W. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How many Brazilian coffee types are there?
Brazil, the world's largest producer of coffee, produces 15 main varieties of coffee. Many beans are hybrids of two or more types of coffee plant.
How much coffee does Brazil produce?
From Minas Gerais to São Paulo, this coffee-producing region is the number one producer of coffee beans in the world. In fact, Brazil is responsible for roughly one-third of all the coffee produced around the world. Not only do its coffee fields grow the most green coffee beans, but the coffee-producing region also boasts unrivalled production of arabica beans and instant coffees.
Is Brazilian coffee good for weight loss?
Like any type of coffee, Brazilian coffee can be used to aid weight loss by controlling or suppressing appetites. However, there are no direct scientific links between a Brazilian coffee diet and weight loss.
What is the best way to brew Brazilian coffee?
When it comes to the growing region of Brazil, coffee from the area is versatile and suitable for all brewing methods. You can brew your Brazilian coffee beans with a cafetiere, filter device, bean-to-cup machine or percolator, and coffees can be enjoyed black or as a milky espresso blend such as a latte, flat white or cappuccino.
Where can I buy the best beans from Brazil?
Coffee Direct sells some of the best Brazilian coffee beans the coffee industry has to offer. You can choose between two specialty grade coffees - Brazil Ipanema and Brazilian Santos. Like all of our specialty coffee products, you can order whole bean coffee or opt for a bag of pre-ground coffee, which is expertly ground to the perfect grind size for your home brewing method of choice. Delivery to addresses in the United Kingdom is also free.
You can shop Coffee Direct's range of Brazilian coffee beans on our website here. Make sure to check out our latest customers' reviews to hear what other coffee lovers have to say about our truly unique, high-quality arabica coffees.
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