Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and the largest country in South America. Its extensive Eastern coastline faces out onto the Atlantic Ocean, while its inland borders are shared with almost every South American country, from French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela and Colombia in the North, Peru and Bolivia to the West and Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay in the South. Coffee has been cultivated in Brazil since the early 18th century after coffee plants were first brought into the country by Francisco de Melo Palheta, a Portuguese Lieutenant Colonel, from French Guiana in 1727.
Initially coffee was produced solely for domestic consumption. Brazil, however, has since grown to become the world’s largest coffee producer. Coffee is mainly cultivated in the South Easten states in Brazil. The main coffee growing regions are the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Bahia and Paraná. Most coffee grown in Brazil is Arabica, which contributes around 70% towards total production, with Robusta accounting for the remaining 30%.
|Annual production:||45-65 million bags|
|Altitude range:||700 - 1400 masl|
|No coffee farmers:||250,000|
|Key growing regions:||Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Bahia, Rondônia and Paraná|
|Typical varieties:||Bourbon, Typica, Mundo Novo, Catuai, Catucai, Icatu, Rubi, Caturra|
|Grading system:||Marketed by screen size and regional cup profile|
|Processing type:||Pulp Natural|
Throughout southeastern Brazil it is easy to notice the red soils, or ‘terra roxa’ which the region is renowned for. These soils are nutrient and mineral rich. Ideal for growing high quality coffee. Coffee production is shared between small ‘Sitios’, which are around 10 hectares in size, and larger ‘Fazendas’, which can be up to 2,000 hectares. This disparity in farm size and Brazil’s monocropping coffee culture was born out of the quick growth and industrialisation of coffee production in the 19th century. Brazil, therefore, has a slightly different approach in harvesting and processing from its Latin American neighbours to facilitate and maintain the large-scale production the country has developed. Strip picking, a practice in which coffee cherries are stripped from the branch during peak harvest, is employed at most farms large and small.
Most coffee in Brazil is processed as either Pulp-Natural or Natural, as this achieves the sweet, full-bodied cup profile the nation is known for, although Washed processing does produce some very good coffee quality too. The primary varieties grown are Bourbon and Caturra, however Brazil is also home to some unique coffee varieties which were natural mutations in the field or developed by agronomists. Cultivars such as Red and Yellow Catuai, Catucai, Icatu, Rubi, Mundo Novo, Red and Yellow Obatã, Acaiá and Arara are all increasingly more commonly found on Brazilian coffee farms.