Brazil – The land of culture, color, crazy costumes, constant celebrations, and of course, Coffee! That’s right. We’ve finally hit the motherland on our global caffeine tour. Our pit-stop for today is in the one of the top coffee-growing countries, that claims it stands on the stage as the largest exporter of coffee in the world.
So what is it that makes the world turn to Brazil to satisfy their coffee cravings?
When did the country meet the little brown bean?
How does the Brazilian coffee tastes like?
What are some of the best Brazilian coffee brands?
And how do we get our hands on some of the famed booties?
Like the above questions, we’re here to get a few answers for you. Walk with us for a bit, as we dig deep into everything you want to know about Brazilian coffee.
An Introduction to Brazilian Coffee
History and Origin
There’s a famous Chinese proverb you’ve no doubt heard before. ‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.’
And while coffee has journeyed thousands of miles from the shores of Brazil to the destinations across the globe, before we get ahead of ourselves, we’re going to have to take a few giant steps back in time to see where it all began.
So sit back.
You’re in for a crazy ride down the pages of the history of the country of Brazil.
The Story of Brazilian Coffee
The year was 1727. The Portuguese, who ruled over Brazil at the time, had been trying to get their hands on the elusive brown bean for some time to no avail. It was then that Francisco de Melo Palheta, a Sergeant Major was sent to Cayenne, the capital city of French Guiana, to settle a border dispute. When he arrived in the area he was introduced to Madame D’Orvilliers, the wife of the Governor of Cayenne at the time. A plan was put into motion. The story goes, Francisco de Melo Palheta trapped Madame D’Orvilliers in a web of seduction. When it came time to leave, his efforts were rewarded. He was offered a bouquet of flowers from the governor’s wife. The bouquet was also secretly spiked with the precious coffee seeds which the Sergeant Major took home with him.
Through his efforts, coffee first took root on the shores of Brazil in Pará where it flourished. From there, coffee production spread throughout the country. In close to four decades, the country was already in charge of producing thirty percent of the world’s coffee demands.
The rest as they say, is history.
For over a century, Brazil has led the world in coffee production. There are close to twenty-five hundred thousand farms in the country, that spread across more than thirteen states. We’ve offered a peek at the most famous and favored of the lot.
Home to almost fifty percent of the coffee of the country, the region enjoys the perfect mix of altitude, rich soil and climate that allows the coffee to thrive. The state houses four chief coffee producing regions:
- Sul de Minas – As the name suggests, this region lies to the south of the state. The area has a handsome distribution of small coffee farms that all lie roughly one thousand feet above sea level. The perfect merging of climate, soil, and environment have led to the place becoming responsible for close to 30% of the country’s coffee production.
- Chapada de Minas – This is one of the few regions in the country that has stepped into the future with both feet. Machines do the work of man in most of the farms here. Some of the famous blends exiting the area are Catuaí and Mundo Novo.
- Matas de Minas – The area stands steady in the Atlantic Forest. It is slowly taking its spot on the map as an important pitstop on the map of specialty coffee production in the country.
- Cerrado de Minas – This was the first region in the country to be tagged with the title of Designation of Origin. It is something like a seal of quality certification you would otherwise see awarded to valleys famous for their vineyards. The region boasts of being the home to some A-grade specialty coffees.
Further to the south of the country, Espírito Santo is home to most of the Robusta coffee beans the country exports. The famous Conilon Capixaba robusta beans call the region their home. The elements in the Montanhas do Espírito Santo mountains in the area create the perfect environment for the people to grow a mid-level specialty grade coffee.
This is where all the action is. We mean that quite literally. The port of Santos; the principal port in the country that controls the export of coffee to the world calls the municipality of São Paulo it’s base. The region also houses Mogiana, the area that is home to the farm that can be credited for blends like Catuaí and Mundo Novo.
Brazilian Coffee Characteristics
So, how does the Brazilian coffee tastes? The vast and diverse country of Brazil has a range of flavor profiles to offer to the coffee community of the world.
A few of the overarching tones you can find in coffee samples across the country include a medley of caramelly goodness, with a nutty almond undertone. Depending on the region the beans are growing in, you can also find tints of chocolate ranging from a milky sweetness to darker touches with more concentrated flavors of cocoa in the coffee.
The specialty grade coffee growing in the country holds hints of fruity flavors. The coffee growing in the Sul de Minas for example holds a hint of citrus within its beans. You’re hit with a delicious fruity fragrance every time you brew. The coffee growing in Brazil is known to be relatively low in acidity. They’re the perfect bag to reach for if you’re worried about the impact the caffeine could have on your stomach.
Types of Brazilian Coffee
The country of Brazil is known to many as the treasure chest of espresso beans. While that is true, they are by no means the only variant of beans offered.
The country grows both Arabica as well as Robusta beans in fields of varying sizes. From family owned farms only ten acres big, to estates that run over two thousand acres of land.
The coffee in the country is classified based on the color of the beans, size, and flavor profiles they exhibit. The end result of this process is when the beans are then ranked from best to worst into strictly soft, soft, softish, hard, Riada, Rio, and Rio zona, the lower quality of beans are shipped off and are used the world over in instant coffee blends.
One of the stands out contributions from the country is Brazil Santos. A specialty grade coffee, the name is an ode to the port through which it leaves the country to reach the rest of the world. The blend offers a medium-bodied bean with a fruity tone and delicious fragrance.
How to make Brazilian Coffee – Best Methods
Now that you’ve taken a peek behind the scenes, it’s time to bust open a bag of Brazilian beans yourself and get brewing. If you’re confused about where to start, we’ll walk you through a few of the best options to get the most out of your Brazilian coffee beans.
The flavor, structure, and texture of the Brazilian coffee bean make it the ideal candidate for an espresso. The bulk of the world’s espresso originates in Brazil. Naturally, this would be the first choice when opting to brew.
You can choose to extract your espresso shot using either manual and mechanical methods. Whatever you decide, there are some key elements you should look out for.
While it is not a compulsory aspect. But if the bag of coffee getting into your home is of the whole bean variety, you’re going to need a grinder. You’d be surprised by how much of a difference it makes in the overall flavor and enjoyment of your drink when you grind just before you brew. If you’re at a loss as to the kind of grinder to bring home, we put all our money on a conical burr grinder. They are constructed of the best quality. The best part is that it comes with a range of grind size settings. Even the most minuscule change, is not too small for a burr grinder.
One of the key elements that will help you lock in the perfect espresso is the coffee grind size. This will depend mainly on the apparatus you are using to prepare your beverage.
If you’re using a manual steeping method like a French Press or AeroPress, stick to a coarse grind. For a pour-over method like a Chemex, opt for a medium-fine setting. If you’re more inclined towards some kind of semi-automatic machine, grind your coffee beans till they resemble table salt. If your machine is completely self-run. The coffee grind you set into the portafilter should resemble table salt.
Patience and Precision
When it all comes down to it, creating a cup of espresso is an art. And it is not one that can be mastered in a day, so allow yourself a little trial and error. Learn from your mistakes and alter ingredients to suit your tastes. Lastly, enjoy the process and we can guarantee you’ll be the local legend for Brazilian espressos before you know.
Brazilian coffee has a reputation for being gentle, smooth, and refreshing. The beans are also low in acidity. This means if you decide to cover them in water and pop them in the fridge for a few hours or a day. You’re going to get more good out of them than bad.
Should you decide to head down this path for your daily cup of caffeine. Their are a few pointers you should keep an eye out for.
Take Your Time
A cold brew is by definition a chilled preparation. So don’t forget to be chilled out when you get to it. Allow yourself and your coffee beans time. Since heat is a key element missing from the process, the flavors do take longer to extract. So remember to give yourself time to enjoy the process so that you can enjoy the beverage.
The Grind Size
When it comes to a cold brew, it’s pretty straight forward. The coffee beans you grind are in this method meant to be in constant and complete contact with the water for a long period of time. The ideal that you should aim for is a coarse grind. Anything too fine might over-extract fast and leave your beverage tasting bitter or sour. If you get this right you’ll allow time to work its magic and be able to sit back on a summer day drinking your worries away with a chilled glass of Brazilian coffee.
Most of the coffee growing in Brazil has a reputation of holding low acidity. Steeping techniques that use an apparatus like French Press or AeroPress work well with these kinds of beans.
The beans can sit in the water for anything between two to five minutes without turning your cup of coffee sour. The French Press would also work well taking its time to draw out the deep sweet tones from the beans. Let’s walk you through how to get that perfect cup of Brazilian coffee using a French Press.
What You’re Going to Need
- Hot water in a kettle – Preferably a gooseneck kettle to gain the best control over direction and flow rate.
- A bag of your favorite Brazilian coffee beans.
- A cylindrical glass pot with a plunger and built-in filter.
- A grinder – In case you wish to freshly grind coffee beans at home right before you brew.
- Spoon to stir
What You’re Going to Do
- Once you have your French Press on the table take the plunger out and pour some hot water inside to warm up the vessel. Swirl it around, then throw it away.
- If you’ve opted to bring home a bag of Brazilian whole beans, place it on the countertop and grind the coffee.
- Once done, place the coffee grinds into the glass pot.
- Grab your gooseneck kettle and slowly pour some hot water on top of the French grinds (roughly double the quantity of the coffee).
- Grab your spoon and stir the mixture very gently.
- Wait for between thirty to forty-five seconds. If your coffee is truly fresh, this is when you will see it bloom.
- Pour in the remaining water. Place the lid back on the glass vessel and push the plunger in till it is resting at the top of the water.
- Leave it alone for three to four minutes.
- It is during this time that the water is absorbing all the oils and flavors the coffee grinds have to offer.
- Now grasp the plunger and press down through the mix with uniform pressure.
- Pour it into your mug.
- Sit back sip and enjoy your delicious cup of Brazilian coffee.
5 Best Brazilian Coffee Bean Brands
With the title of the biggest coffee producer in the world under its belt, you can be sure the market is flooded with coffee blends originating in Brazil. We’ve wadded through most of the noise to get you what is generally considered the best among the rest.
1. Volcanica Coffee Brazil Peaberry Coffee
Striding in at the top of our list we have a smooth rich blend offered up by Volcanica. Hailing from the Santana estate, the Brazil Peaberry Coffee blend holds a complex combination of hazelnut mixed in with wisps of raspberries. The unique style of the bean offers a more intense flavor. Roasted to a medium brown, the peaberry blend is at perfection in a cup.
The best part, the people at Volcanica roast the coffee only after the order has been placed. So you’re guaranteed a fresh pack every time you order. The company is also Rainforest Alliance certified which means the farms in the Santana estate are regularly audited to ensure that they run in accordance with environmental, social, and economic sustainability standards.
2. Coffee Bean Direct Brazilian Santos
Sliding into the second slot, we have the famed Santos beans offered up by Coffee Bean Direct. The Bourbon blend from Brazil holds one hundred percent Arabica beans. The blend flawlessly mergers touches of dark chocolate and dried cherry while intricately weaving in a pinch of cinnamon to finish off with a punch. The blend truly is a treat for all the sense, mesmerizing you with an intoxicating fragrance as you brew.
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The beans are fresh and carefully slow-roasted right before being packed. The bag of beans has been designed to offer a foil-lined valve that you can press shut to seal the beans in. The bag is designed this way to take away worries about air getting in during storage and interfering with the flavor of the blend.
3. Pilao Roasted & Ground Coffee
The next participant is a favorite amongst the locals of Brazil.
People feel the Pilao, being a slow-roasted coffee, mimics the style and vibe of their country. The dark roast offers a unique flavor profile that cannot be fully figured out. It just has to be experienced. If you ever decide to drop into Brazil for a bit of a visit, chances are this is the blend you will encounter at every local hotspot.
The rich flavor of the blend includes elements of cocoa and finishes off with a slip of fermented fruit. Don’t miss out on the aroma that escapes the blend when you brew.
4. Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean
Sweeping through next is a brand that should need no introduction when it comes to their commitment and contribution towards the world of coffee. Lavazza offers up a blend of washed robusta beans in their Super Crema blend.
Expect a taste that often finds its home in Brazilian coffee beans. A meld of brown sugar and hazelnut with just a teasing taste of honey and almonds. Like many of its contemporaries originating in the country, this blend makes for an enticing espresso and doesn’t fail to form a thick smooth cream when brewed. One that any Barista would be proud of.
The blend is available in the whole bean variety in case you wish to grind your beans at home before you brew. For those who don’t have a grinder at home, the pre-ground variety is also an option.
5. Peet’s Coffee Single Origin Brazil, Medium Roast
Closing out our list with a bang are the single origin beans from Peet’s Coffee.
The hundred percent Arabica beans are freshly roasted to a medium brown, the blend boasts of natural chocolatey sweet flavor with hints of hazelnut teasing at the taste.
While the people at Peet’s work hard to ensure you’re getting only the freshest produce out there, they also ensure all their activities from growing the coffee crop to drying, roasting, processing, and packaging are done with social and environmental responsibility kept in check.
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The mellow and soothing blend can be particularly refreshing and enjoyable on a hot summer day through a cold brew.
Brazilian Coffee Facts
The country produces both Arabica and Robusta beans. The ratio of which varies between 70 : 30 and 80 : 20 each year.
Majority of the coffee in Brazil is processed naturally which in turn adds to the body of the bean and sliver of sweetness in the taste.
The coffee harvest season in Brazil is from the start of May to the end of September each year.
Coffee from Brazil is low acidic. The taste would range from nutty almond undertone to concentrated flavors of cocoa. All in all, the primary flavors in beans from Brazil are chocolaty and nutty.
At the End of the Day
With great fame comes great expectations, Brazil is known in the coffee community. And while they mainly steal the spotlight for the sure quantity of coffee they produce in a year, there is no denying great quality is part of the package.