Brazilian Coffee: Story Behind The Cup
The world's top coffee bean grower and exporter.
History of Brazilian coffee
The coffee plant was brought to Brazil in the 1700s. Initially, coffee was exclusively grown for domestic consumption. Coffee demand began to rise in America and Europe during the nineteenth century. By the 1820s, the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Minas Gerais had begun to increase their coffee plantations. Brazilian coffee's popularity soared, particularly in the United States and Europe. By the 1840s, Brazil had become the world's largest coffee exporter.
After the cessation of the slave trade in 1929, Brazil's coffee industry changed. The Great Depression slammed into the coffee industry. Thousands of bags of Brazilian coffee beans were burned as prices dropped and trade dried up. However, the coffee industry was not completely decimated and recovered.
Almost every coffee cultivar you'll hear about is descended from Typica and Bourbon. Typica coffees have a somewhat sweet, caramelly flavor. Bourbon coffees have a wonderful, bright acidity, but based on where they're grown, they may have a variety of flavors.
There are several uniquely Brazilian varietals:
- Bourbon - comes in a variety of colors, including crimson (Bourbon Vermelho) and yellow (Bourbon Blanc) (Bourbon Amarelo).
- Mundo Novo - a hybrid between Typica and Bourbon that was discovered in Brazil in the 1940s and accounts for around 40% of Brazilian coffees. It's well-suited to the country's environment, and farmers like it for its disease resistance and high production. It's popular among coffee aficionados because it makes a sweet cup with a rich body and low acidity.
- Caturra - a Bourbon variety that has gone through a spontaneous mutation. This variety has a greater yield and is disease resistant than its parent. Catuai is a cross of Mundo Novo and Caturra that was produced in the 1940s.
In Brazil, "natural" and "pulped natural" processed coffee dominate first. Before the introduction of de-pulping machines, coffee was customarily prepared in this manner for 150 years. Despite being the world's most used processing method, the washed process is only used in very limited numbers in Brazil.
Some Brazilian beans, particularly those that are pulped natural or "Brazil natural," have a distinct nutty flavor and a heavy body, making them popular in espresso mixes. Chocolate and spice are common flavors, and the coffees tend to stay in the mouth longer, leaving a less clean aftertaste.