Being a powerhouse of coffee production since the early twentieth century, Brazil has grown from an origin of contentious quality into a specialty coffee sanctuary for roasters and coffee drinkers the world over.
A spicy tale involving seduction and smuggling introduced coffee to Northern Brazil in 1727 through their neighbour, French Guiana. Initially consumed by local European colonists, coffee exports increased dramatically as demand in the United States and Europe grew and by the early twentieth century, Brazil was supplying eighty per cent of the world’s coffee.
This increasing demand led to a stigma that is still intact in the twenty-first century — the enormous volume of coffee that Brazil produces suggests their industry favours quantity over quality. Although Brazil is the largest coffee exporter in the world, currently producing just shy of forty per cent of the world’s supply, coffee from Brazil is among the most prized specialty coffee available.
There are fourteen different coffee-producing regions within seven Brazilian states which grow a variety of arabica and robusta varieties. As is typical, the higher you climb, the more arabica coffee begins to flourish. Arabica coffee with increased sweetness and acidity grown in Brazil varies from nutty and chocolate-bodied coffees in the North to fruity, highly citric coffee in the South.
However, unlike many of its neighbouring countries, Brazil’s mountains don’t climb to the same heights that are typical for growing specialty arabica coffee. The highest altitude producing region is Sao Paulo in the country’s South East, which produces coffee between 700-1400 masl. This is considerably lower than many other coffee-producing countries (consider, neighbouring Peru produces arabica coffee from 1,200 masl, and Colombia up to 2,000 masl).
These lower altitudes have helped the Brazilian coffee industry adapt to natural challenges and provide solutions that are now utilised around the world.
Brazil was one of the early adopters of mechanical harvesting and to this day is known for its large-scale industrial harvesting methods. Regions higher up often pick coffee by hand when it’s ready to be harvested; a labour-intensive process that is unavoidable when mountain terrain is too rugged to get machinery in where coffee plants grow. On gentle Brazilian slopes, the use of tractors and machines gently vibrating ripe cherries off coffee plants contributes to the enormous amounts of coffee exported from the origin.
Neighbouring Central American countries now widely produce an effective arabica variety that was first cultivated in Brazil in Minas Gerais. Caturra (a smaller, natural mutation of Bourbon) is a popular dwarf variety that takes up less space than other arabica coffee plants — popular among producers with less farmland and limited space. Caturra can be found growing throughout Central America in Guatemala, Panama and Honduras.
Having distinctive wet and dry seasons, Brazilian producers favour a natural (dry) processing method which has a high chance of success without the risk of fermentation. While unpredictable from harvest to harvest, natural processing imparts ripe fruit flavours with intense sweetness onto the coffee for a delicious experience in the cup. Natural and pulp natural (or honey process) coffee typically produce a low-acid, big-bodied coffee which is a major reason why they often feature in espresso blends.
The majority of coffee coming out of Brazil’s powerhouse-producing regions of Espirito Santo, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Bahia is natural and pulp natural coffee. That being said, in the twenty-first century, there are a few Brazilian producers who are starting to experiment with processing methods, including washed coffee and anaerobic natural coffee — always exploring what's possible in the world of coffee.
We find our favourite Brazilian specialty coffee has caramel, brown-sugar or toffee tones to them, with some chocolate and sweet citrus. Flavours so good that they can stand by themselves as a delicious single origin, or work with other origins to construct perfect, balanced flavour in a blend.
We’ve been working with Brazilian specialty coffee almost since day one at Allpress. In that time, we've formed relationships with producers that we still buy from today, as well as some new partners who grow remarkable coffee.
Our longest-standing relationship in Brazil is with Fazenda Santa Alina in Vale de Grama, Mogiana. Santa Alina has been producing coffee in the northeastern part of Sao Paulo since 1907 and has continued as a family-owned business since then. We’ve partnered with Santa Alina since 2008, while our other Brazilian partnerships include Qualicafex since 2008, Stockler since 2009, Cafebras since 2013 and Sucafina since 2021.
At Allpress, our partnerships are at the core of who we are. These long-term partnerships help us deliver our repeatable flavour the world over. Partnering with producers over the long term provides financial security for growers year-on-year and in turn provides us with reliable, quality specialty coffee to roast for our wholesale partners and home brewers.
We work with multiple Brazilian coffees at Allpress, being present in our Allpress Espresso Blend, A.R.T. Espresso Roast and The Good Brew. With the varied landscape of Brazil producing versatile coffee, Brazilian coffee provides the foundation for all of these blends, bringing body, good sweetness, a hint of citrus and a smooth finish.
We often feature standout Brazilian coffee in Our Coffee Galaxy too, so keep an eye out.