Brazilian Coffee Guide (Top Picks, Guide + Brewing Tips)
It’s not hard to find Brazilian Coffee – most of the world’s coffee comes from Brazil! But what is Brazilian coffee really known for? How is it grown and harvested? Will they always be the world’s largest coffee producing country?
And the most important question: How do find and brew amazing Brazilian coffee from your own home?
Read on to find out how coffee in Brazil got its start, where the industry is going in the future, what sets Brazil apart from other coffee producing countries, and the best Brazilian coffee brands available.
Brazilian Peaberry (Volcanica)
The highest quality beans from the best estate in Brazil (Santana). Only 5% of the beans are considered ‘peaberry’ – so you’re getting the cream of the crop (for a darn good price).
When you order through Volcanica, you get the freshest roast available and it is delivered lightning fast.
Some Interesting Facts About Brazilian Coffee
Brazil is a massive country. The 5th largest country in the world by landmass (8.51 million square kilometers) and the 5th most populated country in the world (207 million).
Much of the country is still rainforest. It’s warm tropical climate make it great for growing coffee. So what makes Brazil such a unique coffee growing country?
Brazil Produces the Most Coffee of Any Coffee Growing Nation
For the last 150 years Brazil has been producing more coffee (1) than any other country in the world. In 2016, Brazil produced 2,595,000 metric tons of coffee beans, where as Vietnam, the 2nd largest producer of coffee stood at 1,650,000 metric tons. Ethiopia (#5 on the list) only produced 384,000 tons.
Brazil and Ethiopia are the only coffee producing countries that have a significant coffee consumption. Most other coffee producing countries export most of their coffee and hardly drink any themselves.
Brazilian fun fact: Brazil is also the largest consumer of coffee. Yet on a per capita basis it is the 14th largest consumer.
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Slavery (Might Still Exist) on Coffee Plantations
Coffee arrived in the nation in the mid-1700’s by French settlers. As time passed, coffee eventually became Brazil’s largest export, passing sugar cane.
By 1840, Brazil was producing more coffee than any other country, and plantation owners became very wealthy. It wasn’t until 1888 that slavery was officially abolished (2). But even today, there are farms that still have slavery-like conditions (3).
Brazil has been very progressive in the coffee farming and production industry and protecting farmers, but sometimes farms can slide under the radar and treat migrant workers like slaves.
The largest farms are so advanced in their practices and technologies that they are frequently monitored by different agencies to meet certain certifications, and the smallest farms are typically run by families.
It’s the medium-sized farms that are at the highest risk of slave like conditions, such as long workdays, lack of proper shelter, and debt bondage.
Be aware of this when buying direct – you don’t want to be supporting that shit!
The coffee regions of Brazil (4) are nestled alongside the Atlantic Coast in the southeast region of the country. These areas receive moderate sunlight and rain with steady temperatures year round, which are great for growing both Arabica and Robusta beans.
What Brazil lacks, however, is the higher elevations, which tend to produce better coffee. Because of the lower elevations, farms can grow more coffee, faster. They can also grow Robusta beans. The result is more quantity, but not necessarily high quality coffee.
The country is investing time and money to produce better drying technologies to speed up the process and to protect the beans from prolonged fermentation.
Brazilian fun fact: Brazil also has the ideal weather conditions for dry (or natural) processed coffee. Therefore, most of the coffee produced in Brazil is processed naturally.
Brazil also processes a significant amount of their coffee via the pulped natural method, which combines the best characteristics of wet and dry processed methodologies.
Due to the low humidity, Brazil has mastered this processing method and produces the best pulped natural coffees around the globe.
Thirteen out of the 27 federative states of Brazil that produce coffee including Rio de Janeiro, which has the second largest economy in the country. The 3 largest and most prominent coffee growing states in the country are:
- Minas Gerais – Meaning General Mines, this is the biggest coffee-growing state where 4 coffee-producing regions are located. It houses half of Brazil’s coffee production farms. High-quality Obatã, Icatu, Catuaí, Catuaí Rubi, and Mundo Novo coffees are grown here.
- Cerrado de Minas – This region was the first to be awarded the Designation of Origin status. With elevations reaching 800 to 1,300 meters, this region produces high-grade coffees.
- Chapada de Minas – This region of valleys and highlands grows Catuai and Mundo Novo varieties.
- Matas de Minas – The area is mostly composed of small coffee farms. This emerging coffee-region’s landscape is uneven and the coffee varietals that are produced here are known to have chocolate or caramel notes — pretty similar to the coffees produced in Bolivia.
- Sul de Minas – With mild temperatures and average altitude of 1000 meters, this region has been producing 30% of the country’s coffee. Coffees produced in Sul de Minas are known to be full-bodied with fruity notes.
- Espírito Santo – This state mainly grows Robusta coffee beans. It’s home to the coffee growing regions Montanhas de Espirito Santo and Conilon Capixaba.
- São Paulo – This state is where you’ll find Port Santos, which is the port known for coffee exportation. It is home to the coffee subregions Mogiana and Centre-Oeste de São Paulo coffee farms.
- Centro-Oeste de São Paolo – This region covers four cities. Its coffee farms are mostly small to medium in size. It has quite a craggy, uneven terrain.
- Mogiana – With land areas sitting 900 to 1,100 meters above sea level and mild temperatures, this region is able to produce high-quality coffee beans.
Flavor Characteristics And Tasting Notes
Brazilian coffee tends to be low in acidity, smooth in body with sweet flavors.
These flavors are primarily chocolatey and nutty. These can range from milk chocolate to bitter cocoa and toasted almond.
Some of the higher quality, specialty grade coffees that grow at higher elevations can contain subtle citrus notes and other brighter fruit characteristics. It’s very rare to find a Brazil with a bright, juicy acidity.
Don’t miss beans from the following regions of Brasilia:
Brazil Santos coffee is the most well known specialty grade coffee from the nation. The name Brazil Santos comes from the port that the coffee of this region travels through.
Bourbon Santos is arguably the best coffee Brazil has to offer. Bourbon Santos coffee is known for its smooth and mild flavors, and is often described as nutty and sweet. Most of these beans are grown in São Paulo or Minas Gerais.
Carmo de Minas is another wonderful coffee from Brazil. Carmo de Minas is located in the southern part of Minas Gerais state, which has fertile soil and slightly higher elevations than much of the country.
The coffee produced here may have a bit more acidity with some soft fruit notes, backed by a sweet chocolatey body. Estate coffee’s from Brazil are those grown at specific, high quality farms in the country. When you see the word “estate,” it can be traced back to that specific farm and family. Many of these coffees are those that win awards, so if you see one, be sure to pick it up.
The Current State of the Brazil’s Coffee-Growing Industry
As far as technology and sustainability is concerned, Brazil is one of the most developed nations (5) in terms of coffee production. Despite coffee production facing so many obstacles these days, Brazilian coffee farmers continue to adapt and improve their practices.
Brazil is continuously investing in new technologies to increase efficiency and quality on the farms and is trying to ensure coffee farmers are well cared for, paid right and given ample opportunity.
70-80% of the coffee produced in Brazil is Arabica. The rest is Robusta.
For a country that produces so much coffee, with a relatively low growing elevation, not all coffee is great. In fact, most of the coffee produced is not good. But it all serves a purpose: Most specialty roasters purchase Brazil’s for their blends.
These coffee’s are full bodied, sweet and low in acidity, so they can blend them with coffee’s that have a light body and brighter flavor notes to achieve a balanced cup or the perfect espresso.
Brazil is also the world’s largest exporter of instant coffee (6). Between 10-20% of all coffee exported by Brazil is instant coffee. Instant coffee is usually made up lower quality coffees.
In 1960, coffee was Brazil’s top export, accounting for nearly 60% of all of the country’s exports. In 2006, coffee accounted for 2.5% of the country’s exports.
Brazilian fun fact: While Brazil’s dependence on coffee has come down quite dramatically, it’s the most significant player in the industry today.
The Best Way To Brew Methods for Brazilian Coffee
The best Brazilian coffee beans can produce a drink with a full body, low acidity and notes of sweet chocolate and toasted nut. There are multiple ways of enjoying this type of coffee to the fullest. Whichever brew method you prefer, just make sure that the ground coffee is in the ideal fineness or coarseness.
The French Press is known for brewing coffee with a full, heavy body. Because the French press is a full immersion brewer, the ground coffee sit’s in the water for up to 5 minutes.
This doesn’t do so well with highly acidic coffee, as it can taste sour and muddy. But It is perfect, however for coffees that are naturally lower in acidity. It also helps to pronounce the sweet chocolate notes of the coffee.
Almost every traditional espresso blend has Brazilian coffees in it. Why? These beans are just made for espresso. Again, it’s the full, sweet, chocolately character that helps to make the perfect shot of espresso.
Brazil’s do great as cold brew for the same reasons listed above. Most people want their cold brew to be smooth and refreshing. Brazilian coffee excel and smooth and refreshing, especially when brewed cold.
Where to Buy The Best Brazilian Coffee Brands
It’s not hard to find Brazilian coffee. But it can be relatively difficult to find an excellent coffee from Brazil. In fact, it can be hard to find ANY good coffee bean. Check out these roasters for the best Brazilian coffee brands.
Volcanica Coffee roasts fresh once an order is placed. Not before. Try this Brazil Peaberry for a sweet, full bodied coffee with low-medium acidity – the classic Brazilian coffee profile. This single origin coffee is sourced from the State of Minas Gerais, which is known to produce some of the most premium Brazil coffee. Plus, Volcanica is Rainforest Alliance certified making sure to encourage sustainable practices.
This coffee is available in whole bean and pre-ground packs. You can find Volcanica coffee on Amazon, but you’re better off ordering direct from Volcanica. This way you get fresh-roasted coffee as they will only roast after they order, and you’ll have it within 1-2 days. If it’s from Amazon, who knows how long it has really been sitting in the Amazon warehouse for?
Now, you can certainly get single origin Brazil coffee (and they’ll rock your cup), but if you’re looking for something Brazilian and a little bit more relaxed, mellow, and has low acidity, this blend can be the perfect answer.
Once again brought to you by the incredible folks over at Volcanica Coffee Company, this Low Acid Blend has a strong base of Brazil coffee that are complemented with other high quality and low acidity beans, including some from Sumatra – a region renowned for producing incredible coffee beans that are naturally low in acidity.
The blend is medium roasted after you place your order, to ensure that the beans are still at their maximum freshness when they arrive on your doorstep a few days later.
If low acidity is a priority for you, this is an excellent choice that will ensure that your next cup is simultaneously full of flavor… and easy on the stomach. This coffee is available in whole bean and pre-ground packs.
Home Grounds is something of a fan of Peet’s Coffee. The San Francisco roaster is one of the big players in the US coffee scene but still ensures the beans are respected. Coffee is roasted by hand only after it has been ordered, so you know you’re getting a fresh delivery.
Peet’s is known for its in-house blends, but the brand does source some quality single origins, like these Brazilian beans. This coffee comes from the Minas Gerais growing region, the largest and best-known in the country.
Peet’s Brazilian coffee has been naturally processed, giving these beans a more fruit-forward flavor than what you’d normally find in Brazilian beans. True to the region, there’s also a prominent taste of sweet roasted hazelnuts. Try it as a French press for richness or as a cold brew if you want to highlight those sweet tastes. If you like this coffee, it’s also available as K-Cup pods.
Most Suitable Roast type for Brazilian Coffees
Brazil coffee can handle whatever you prefer.
- If you like a lighter roast, you will get a smooth, low acid, chocolatey and nutty cup of coffee. It will be easy drinking.
- If you like a darker roast, these beans can handle that as well. The dark roast will really highlight the full body and the toasted nut character.
The chocolatey notes may go from a milk chocolate sweetness to a bitter sweet cocoa.
These coffee beans are versatile and you can enjoy them anyway you like.
Brazil coffee beans tend to have a low bean density which may make roasting a bit trickier than other coffees. You simply need to pay attention while roasting and not go too fast.
Since these beans are softer, applying lower heat for a longer period of time will make for a balanced roast, as opposed to high heat quickly, which may just scorch the beans.
Aproveite, Meu Amigo! (Enjoy, my friend)
Brazilian coffee is technically the most popular coffee in the world. It’s everywhere, especially in the United States. We get most of their exports. Chances are, there are some good Brazilian coffee brands out there for you.
This single origin coffee has it’s own unique profile and its characteristics will only be improving as time goes by and Brazil invests more and more in their industry.
Have a favorite coffee from Brazil? Where’d you get it?
- Top Coffee Producing Countries – WorldAtlas.com Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-coffee-producing-countries.html
- Brazil Coffee Industry – The Brazil Business Retrieved from https://thebrazilbusiness.com/article/brazilian-coffee-industry
- In Brazil’s CoffeeIndustry, Some Workers Face ‘Conditions Analogous to Slavery’ – Foreign Policy Retrieved from https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/13/in-brazils-coffee-industry-some-workers-face-conditions-analogous-to-slavery/
- Brazil’s Coffee Regions – Brasilbar – Brasilbar Retrieved from https://www.brasilbar.com/blog/archives/brazils-coffee-regions
- Challenges of world coffee production: Brazil in the right direction! – Cecafé Retrieved From https://www.cecafe.com.br/en/sustainability/articles/challenges-of-world-coffee-production-brazil-in-the-right-direction-20160913/
- World’s Largest Coffee Producer and Exporter: Brazil Retrieved From https://www.morethanshipping.com/worlds-largest-coffee-producer-and-exporter-brazil/