Coffee production in Brazil is responsible for about a third of all coffee, making Brazil by far the world’s largest producer, a position the country has held for the last 150 years. Coffee plantations, covering some 27,000 km2 (10,000 sq mi), are mainly located in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Paraná where the environment and climate provide ideal growing conditions.
- Size – 8,515,770 sq km
- Capital City – Brasília
- Main Port City – Port of Santos
- Population – 205,823,665 (July 2016)
- Language/s Spoken – Portuguese (official), German, some Spanish, various Amerindian languages, English
Coffee production in Brazil
- Population Involved in Coffee – roughly 360,000 farmers/permanent farm workers
- Typical Farm Size – 0.5 hectare–10,000 hectares
- Bags Exported Annually – 45–60 million bags
Brazil Coffee Profile
- Growing Regions – Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais (including Carmo de Minas, Cerrado Mineiro, and Sul de Minas), Nambuco, Paraná, San Janeiro, São Paulo (including Mogiana),
- Common Varieties – Bourbon (including Yellow Bourbon), Catimor, Catuai, Caturra, Maragogype, Typica
- Processing Methods – Pulped Natural, Natural, Washed (less common)
- Bag Size – 59–60 kg
- Harvest Period – April–September
- Typical Arrival – October–January
History Coffee Brazil
It’s hard to imagine the “beginnings” of coffee in Brazil, as the two things have become so synonymous. The first coffee plants were reportedly brought in the relatively early 18th century, spreading from the northern state of Pará in 1727 all the way down to Rio de Janerio within 50 years. Initially, coffee was grown almost exclusively for domestic consumption by European colonists, but as demand for coffee began to increase in United States and on the European continent in the early-mid 19th century, coffee supplies elsewhere in the world started to decline
Major outbreaks of coffee-leaf rust practically decimated the coffee-growing powerhouses of Java and Ceylon, creating an opening for the burgeoning coffee industry in Central and South America. Brazil’s size and the variety of its landscapes and microclimates showed incredible production potential, and its proximity to the United States made it an obvious and convenient export-import partner for the Western market.
In 1820, Brazil was already producing 30 percent of the world’s coffee supply, but by 1920, it accounted for 80 percent of the global total.
Since the 19th century, the weather in Brazil has been one of the liveliest topics of discussion among traders and brokers, and a major deciding factor in the global market trends and pricing that affect the coffee-commodity market. Incidents of frost and heavy rains have caused coffee yields to wax and wane over the past few decades, but the country is holding strong as one of the two largest coffee producers annually, along with Colombia.
Arabica dominates Brazil
One of the other interesting things Brazil has contributed to coffee worldwide is the number of varieties, mutant-hybrids, and cultivars that have sprung from here, either spontaneously or by laboratory creation. Caturra (a dwarf mutation of Bourbon variety)
Maragogype (an oversize Typica derivative), and Mundo Novo (a Bourbon-Typica that is also a parent plant of Catuai, developed by Brazilian agro-scientists) are only a few of the seemingly countless coffee types that originated in Brazil and, now, spread among coffee-growing countries everywhere.
Coffee Processing industry in Brazil
In order to maintain production at the scale and scope for which Brazil is famous, the national industry has adopted specific and to some degree innovative means to achieve both picking and processing in the most highly efficient and organized manner possible, and the structure of the average farm or estate is designed around utilizing these systems and maximizing the yield potential per hectare.
Picking Coffee by mechanically
Strip picking, either mechanically or by hand, is one of the efficiencies that is commonly found on farms of all sizes in Brazil: Instead of the labor-intensive selective picking typical to the rest of the coffee-producing Americas, coffee is picked less discriminately cherry-by-cherry, but rather sorted by ripeness after more general collection. In some instances, pickers use towels, tarps, and/or heavy gloves to simply strip cherries from the branches at the peak of the harvest, collecting them in baskets, barrels, or in sacks and cloth bags.
Elsewhere, on much larger farms, coffee plants are arranged in rows more akin to corn fields in Iowa than the forest-like environment of Ethiopia or Colombia: Mechanical pickers will pass through and shake the trees, which loosens the riper cherries and allows them to be collected for sorting and processing.
While these methods raise some criticism from specialty-coffee circles, they are what have allowed for Brazil to maintain its position as a tremendous source for volume, and in many cases also imparts some of what is considered the classic Brazil profile that is richer in chocolate, nut, and pulpy coffee-cherry notes.
Processing Coffee – Pulped Natural
Speaking of pulpy notes, Brazil’s’ post-harvest processing is also somewhat unique, and has been adapted largely in response to a combination of productivity, climate, and desired profile: Pulped Natural and Natural processing still dominates the industry here:
- Pulped Natural: Coffees are depulped and allowed to dry with their mucilage still intact (See more about coffee Pulped Natural)
- Natural processing: while Naturals are typically either dried on the trees before harvesting (called Boya), or picked and laid out on patios in order to finish drying before being hulled. Both processes tend to lend the coffees a nutty creaminess that has a more tempered fruit tone than the bright and acidic Washed or even Honey coffees we see elsewhere from Mesoamerica. The Natural coffees Cafe Imports sources from Brazil are “special prep,” picked ripe and dried on patios to spec.
Frost and droughts in Brazil
The coffee plant can tolerate low temperatures, but not frost. Milder frosts, called “white frosts”, kill the flowers that grow into the harvested cherries, but new flowers are regrown by the tree the next season. White frosts only affect the following year’s harvest, but more severe frosts, “black frosts”, kill the entire tree and have more long-term consequences. New plants have to be planted after a black frost, and it takes years before the tree begins to bear fruit, typically 3–4 years.
See more The severe frost took place in Brazil from Wiki