Brazil is by far the world’s largest coffee producer - in 2010 it produced 48,095 million bags of coffee, over a third of global production! Coffee was introduced to the country back in the early 18th century. The story goes that in 1727 the Brazilian government sent a dashing soldier - Lt. Col. Francisco de Melo Palheta - to smuggle coffee seeds from French Guiana, under the cover of mediating a border dispute. The Lieutenant is said to have turned his charms on the governor’s wife, who slyly gave him a bouquet spiked with coffee seedlings at a farewell state dinner.
Some two million hectares of the country are now under coffee, of which the vast majority (70%+) is Arabica. Much of this is destined for the large multi-national roasters and is known simply as ‘Santos’ (after the port it is shipped from in São Paulo state - not a producing region). However, Brazil also produces some truly exceptional coffees and micro-lots, proof that speciality coffee does not have to be limited to just the small-scale grower.
Like in India, Brazil’s burgeoning middle class has prompted rapid growth in the domestic market for its coffee. Consumption has been increasing by around 5% annually and Brazil may soon overtake the US to become the world’s biggest coffee consumer.
The primary growing regions are Sul de Minas, Matas de Minas, Cerrado, Chapadas de Minas, Mogiana, Paraná and Bahia. Here, a huge number of traditional and experimental varietals such as Bourbon, Mondo Novo, Icatú, Catuaí, Iapar and Catucaí are cultivated. Farms range in size from small family plantations of less than 10 hectares, up to massive estates in excess of 2000 hectares - some of the bigger Brazilian estates singlehandedly produce more coffee each year than Bolivia’s entire output!
Historically, much of the coffee grown in Brazil was processed using the washed method. This is now changing and the natural and pulped natural methods are also increasingly employed. These processes are used to enhance different characteristics of the coffee and to bring out different traits. Indeed, some large estate process their coffees by each method in order to offer contrasting cup profiles.
We work closely with the Brazil Speciality Coffee Association (BSCA) to build long lasting, sustainable relationships with quality growers, both large and small. The BSCA works on both international and domestic levels to raise the standards of Brazilian coffee and coffee agriculture. Internationally, it promotes fine Brazilian coffee and helps growers to meet the exacting standards of speciality coffee buyers worldwide. On a domestic level, the BSCA works with farms to continually improve sustainable farming practices and ensure the provision of social care to workers.
The peak harvest varies in different parts of Brazil and our new crop coffees ship over a period of several months from October through to April.