What Is Brazilian Coffee?
Brazil grows a lot of coffee. For decades, this country in South America has been the world’s largest producer of coffee, accounting for almost 25% to a third of the world’s coffee supply. Known for both its arabica and robusta plants, the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture anticipates that Brazil will produce 64.3 million 60-kg bags of coffee between July 2022 and June 2023.
However, the country is facing some challenges: while Brazil remains the world’s largest coffee producer, it’s been hit hard by climate change and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But coffees from Brazil remain some of the most well-loved in the coffee industry and likely have shown up on your favorite roaster’s menus and blends—even if you didn’t know it.
Let’s break down what makes this region so special.
What Is Brazil Known For?
There’s no doubt that if you’re a coffee drinker, you’ve likely had a roast with Brazilian beans. Although many roasters have recently embraced single-origin Brazilian offerings, almost all have used Brazilian beans to make up one of their blends, particularly espresso blends.
Although Arabica coffee makes up most of what Brazil grows, robusta beans account for about 30% of all flavored coffee produced in the country. Brazil is broken up into five regions, and within those regions, further divided into 26 states—13 of which are known for growing coffee. Generally, arabica is produced in the southeast region, particularly in states like Minas Gerias (the largest coffee-growing region in the country and has many subregions within its borders) and São Paulo, while robusta grows both on the southern coast and in a small area inland called Rondonia.
Although there are many high peaks in Brazil, coffee beans generally tend to grow at lower elevations than you might see in other coffee-growing countries. Some farms grow coffee as low as 800 meters above sea level, and you can find a range of coffee varieties grown in the country, including Bourbon, Catuaí, and Mundo Novo.
Along with a plethora of varieties, you can also find a range of processing methods easily within Brazil. It’s easy to find fully washed coffees and naturally and honey-processed coffees.
Forced labor is an issue the Brazilian government has tried to fight, stemming from the country’s history with enslaved labor. “Farm owners have always depended upon cheap labor, first from more than 1.5 million African slaves who worked on the plantations in the 19th century and later from Italian immigrants,” writes Marina Lopes for The Washington Post. “Today, most laborers come from impoverished Bahia state in Brazil, and they are often lured to the plantations with fake promises of high wages and decent working conditions.”
One of the reasons Brazilian coffee beans are often used in blends is their versatility and generally pleasant flavor profile. It’s challenging to categorize Brazilian beans as falling into a specific flavor profile—partially because the country is enormous and quickly gaining prominence as a producer of coffees worthy of being sold as single-origin offerings—but many describe Brazilian beans as chocolatey and nutty with fruit notes of cherry and red fruits.
Chocolate, nuts, and cherries are all foods that play well with other flavors, so it’s easy to understand why Brazilian beans are a go-to for blends. Brazilian beans can be paired with beans from almost any other coffee region, and their flavor profile can complement various tasting notes. Brazilian coffees tend to have a rounder body and take well to adding milk and sugar.
Because Brazil coffee is grown at slightly lower elevations, some coffees might not have the same vibrant acidity as coffees grown at very high elevations, but that often means you’ll get softer, sweet notes that blend well with other flavors.
What Makes Brazil Stands Out?
You can’t talk about coffee without talking about a Brazilian coffee recipe or twos. Because it’s a powerhouse of coffee production, trends and innovations in the country tend to influence the global coffee market. And because the country produces so much, technological advancements tend to come from Brazilian coffee farms.
From a coffee lover perspective, Brazil is a can’t-miss coffee-growing region. You can brew coffees from Brazil as drip or espresso, and the beans take well to infusion brewing methods, like French press and cold brew.
For years, Brazilian coffee brands were often overlooked in favor of coffee-growing regions that produce more distinct and sparkling coffees, but that’s beginning to change in a big way. More and more people are beginning to recognize the uniqueness of Brazilian beans beyond simply throwing in blends. While Brazilian beans are still vitally important as the backbone of many blends are still vitally important, it’s exciting to see more and more roasters feature single-origin Brazilian beans and embrace the unique flavor notes of the world’s largest coffee-growing country.
If you want to learn more about coffee and discover which blend is best for your daily cup, take our coffee quiz. From coffee processing methods to coffee brewing tips, you can find all the brew expertise you need at Trade.