A Coffee Lovers Guide To Brazilian Coffee Beans!

A Coffee Lovers Guide To Brazilian Coffee Beans!

You have already tried them, you just can’t avoid them! Brazilian Coffee Beans!

They are everywhere, approximately 33% of all coffee beans sold in the world are from Brazil, yet incredibly coffee is not even native to Brazil! It was introduced by a Portuguese diplomat and even then he had to devise a cunning plan to get the coffee seeds out of the country and into Brazil!

By the time you have finished reading this article you will have a comprehensive knowledge of the world’s best known and biggest coffee producer and exporter – a position and title held since 1840!

Keep reading for more facts, figures and info about Brazilian coffee beans! 

In the simplest of terms Brazilian coffee beans are coffee beans that come from Brazil, the world’s leading producer and exporter of coffee. Approximately speaking, 33% or one third of all coffee grown is Brazilian.

Typically, their beans are dark roast and have a mellow flavor with reduced acidity.

Their premium coffee is labelled as Santos, which coincides with the port that it is exported from.

What Are Brazilian Coffee Beans
Brazilian Coffee Beans

Read: Café Bustelo Brazil

Some Cool Facts About Brazilian Coffee Beans

Brazil is a huge country, it is massive! By landmass, it is 5th largest behind Russia, Canada, China and the United States. They are also the 5th most populated behind China, India, United States and Indonesia.

Much of Brazil is covered in the Amazon rainforest. The warm tropical climate makes it perfect for growing coffee.

Better still,

The long dry season makes Brazil one of the very few coffee producing countries that can naturally process their coffee beans.

A super cool fact – one in three coffee beans produced globally is Brazilian.

Here are more facts about coffee from one of the world’s most famous producers:

  • For the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Brazilian athletes funded their trip by selling coffee.
  • The Coffee industry in Brazil employs 3.5 million people.
  • 70% of the coffee grown in Brazil is of the Arabica variety, 30% is Robusta.
  • Robusta is called Conilon in Brazil.
  • The Arabica beans in Brazil are grown at 1,800 to 3,600 ft (550 M to 1,100 m) elevation.
  • It is illegal for anyone to import raw coffee in Brazil. Which means in Brazil, you have only one choice of coffee – Brazilian!
  • The coffee harvest in Brazil is from May to September.
  • There are approximately 220,000 Coffee Farms in Brazil.
  • In 1930s the Brazilian government got involved in price fixing scandal when they burned 78 Million bags of coffee to reduce supply and increase the price on international markets.
  • Children in Brazil are commonly given coffee at school to aid domestic consumption.
  • Coffee represents 2.5% of all exports (by value) from Brazil.
  • Coffee is not native to Brazil (Seriously). More on this is a second.
  • Brazil has been the leading coffee producer since 1840.
  • 14 of the 27 States In Brazil Produce Coffee.
  • The total coffee growing area in Brazil is the size of a small country, currently approximately the same size as Belgium.
Facts About Brazilian Coffee Beans
Facts: Pilao Coffee Is The Most Popular In Brazil

Read: Drinks Cafezinho

The Shocking History Of Brazilian Coffee

Surprising to most people, Brazilians and non-Brazilians alike is a tiny little fact that coffee is not native to Brazil.

The Portuguese diplomat, Francisco De Melo Palheta, planted the first coffee plant in Pará, in 1727. It brought the Portuguese colonial rules what they were seeking, a way of entering the world’s coffee market.

After unsuccessful attempts at getting seeds from French Guyana after the country refused to export coffee seeds, the diplomat, who was having a secret affair with a French Guyana Governor’s wife, it was her that sent him a bouquet of flowers that were loaded with coffee seeds which he took back to Brazil.

The rest, as they say is history.

Unfortunately,

as the years rolled past and coffee production exploded and spread over the nation it was fuelled by slave labor.

Slavery was abolished in 1888, unfortunately there are still some coffee plantations that still have slave-like conditions.

The Brazilian government is progressive in the coffee farming and the industry as a whole, but unfortunately due to remote locations and corruption some farms can fall under the radar and treat their migrant workers as if they were slaves with low pay and long hours, poor shelter and poor living conditions and debt bondage.

This is more common on medium sized farms.

The larger farms use advanced technologies and practices and are closely monitored by government agencies to meet the required certification requirements.

The History Of Brazilian Coffee
The Dark History Of Brazilian Coffee

Read: Cafezinho

Growing Conditions

There are 4 coffee growing regions in Brazil, all of which are located on their Atlantic Coast in the south-east of the nation. These regions get a moderate amount of sunshine and rainfall with steady year round temperatures.

These conditions are perfect for the cultivation of both Robusta and Arabica coffee beans.

Brazil though lacks is the higher elevation which are known for producing a better quality coffee. Due to lower elevations, the coffee farms and co-operatives can grow more coffee and faster. The lower altitudes are also ideal for Robusta beans.

It is a case of more coffee but not necessarily high quality coffee. In the coffee world, higher elevation = higher quality.

Brazil invests a lot of money and time to improve drying technologies to reduce the time taken to process the beans and protect them from fermentation.

Still, a very good aspect in my opinion is a great deal of the beans in Brazil are naturally processed using one of the two natural processing methods – dry processing and pulp natural (semi-dry processed).

The pulped natural technique is a combination of the best characteristics of dry and wet processing methods and thanks in kind to the low humidity climate they have become masters of this processing method and as a result Brazil produces by far the best pulped natural coffee in the world.

The 4 Coffee Growing Regions Of Brazil

Due to the coffee growing at lower altitudes in Brazil, and high quality beans growing at greater elevations it is entirely accurate to say that Brazil does not have the perfect conditions for growing coffee, good conditions, even great conditions but not overall perfect conditions exist in Brazil.

Due to the coffee growing at lower altitudes, this causes the coffee cherries to become ripe at differing rates.

This is not at all an issue when the coffee cherries are handpicked because when they are handpicked only the ripe one can be picked and the unripe left to ripen.

Pro Tip: This is just one of the reasons why Brazilian Peaberry coffee is better – all Peaberry coffee is handpicked.

Unfortunately, a lot of farmers have invested in modern machinery for harvesting the cherries which means the quality of the harvest is not as high as it could be since the harvesting machines do not differentiate between ripe and unripe cherries.

To overcome this, some coffee farms have custom-built harvesters that will only picks the ripe coffee cherries and leave the unripe ones to ripen.

In total there are 32 coffee producing regions in 14 of the 27 Federal states that produce coffee.

90% of the coffee produced comes from only 4 states.

Coffee Growing Regions Of Brazil
The Coffee Growing Regions Of Brazil

São Paulo

São Paulo is the state where Port Santos is located, where coffee exportation from Brazil happens. It is the home of coffee subregions Centre-Oeste de São Paulo and Mogiana coffee farms.

  • Mogiana: Has mild temperatures and elevations of 900 to 1,100 meters (2950 to 3600 foot) above sea level. The Mogiana region is known for the production of coffee beans that are of a high quality.
  • Centro-Oeste de São Paulo: This region, meaning Center-West of São Paulo, is large and covers 4 cities. The area has uneven terrain that is craggy. Most of the coffee farms are small and medium in size. There are not a lot of large coffee farms in this region.

Minas Gerais

The meaning of Minas Gerais is General Mines, the name comes from the 18th century gold rush. This is by far the largest of the 4 coffee producing regions in Brazil. 50% of the coffee production farms are housed in this state.

It is in this state that you will find Sul De Minas with a consistent climate of 22C (71F). The small farms in this state range in size from 10 hectares to 100 hectares and produce 30% of all coffee produced in Brazil with the larger farms in the state producing 20% of the coffee in Brazil.

The high quality and tasty Icatu, Mundo Novo, Obatã, Catuaí Rubi and Catuaí coffees are produced in this state.

Here are some brief details about the coffee producing regions within this state.

  • Chapada De Minas: This is a region of highlands and valleys where Mundo Novo and Catuai varieties.
  • Sul De Minas: With an average altitude of 3,333 feet (1000 meters) and produces 50% of the nation’s beans. Coffee from this region is known for producing beans that are full-bodied and with fruity notes.
  • Matas De Minas: This region is dominated by small coffee farms. This is an emerging region in Brazil where the coffee produced is known for its caramel notes and hints of chocolate.
  • Cerrado De Minas: This is known and famed for being the first region in Brazil to be assigned and awarded the status of Designation Of Origin. Elevation ranges from 800 meters to 1,300 meters (2620 to 4260 feet), known for producing high quality coffee.
Minas Gerais
Minas Gerais State In Brazil

Espírito Santo

Known as the Robusta coffee beans state due to this being the state that mainly produces the Robusta variety. The regions of Conilon Capixa and Montanhas De Espirito De Santo.

By volume, this state sits second to Minas Gerais in terms of coffee production and is often overlooked and gets little attention from the Specialty coffee market.

Since it is Brazil, being the second-largest producer, it means they still produce a lot of coffee.

Due to the high level of humidity, there is an uneven and slow maturation of coffee cherries. The result of this is the workers needing to handpick the ripe cherries and pass through 5 to 6 times during the harvesting season.

The result of this is the coffee from Espírito Santo needs to be depulped in order to yield a high quality coffee.

Bahia

Bahia is broken down into just a couple of regions, and is fairly new to production of coffee having only started in 1970, which is new for Brazil considering the country started growing coffee in the 1720s.

The fast deployment of technology means it is quickly become a powerhouse and well respected for their cerrado coffees.

Quality irrigation and good weather helps the farmers to grow a consistent and uniform coffee that can be harvested by machine.

Bahia State Brazil
Bahia State Brazil

Quality Standards Of Coffee In Brazil

As I have mentioned earlier in this article, the majority of coffee grown is low elevation, low grade Arabica coffee. It’s not bad, but simply does not cut it to make the grade of a premium gourmet coffee.

Those that enjoy a mild and smooth cup of coffee would lean towards Brazilian coffee beans. Their beans are commonly found in blends by coffee companies to produce a more mellow flavor profile.

There have been efforts by the government to alter the perception of their coffee, their most famous national product, and to rebrand them as a specialty coffee. As a result of government efforts Fair Trade certified and Organic coffee from Brazil is becoming more common.

Due to the low altitudes in Brazil, it is very rare to see their coffee labelled as Strictly Home Grown, which is a certification that is strictly reserved for the very best coffee beans in the world.

Coffee lovers and coffee snobs will not appreciate me saying this – Brazilian coffee should not simply be dismissed as their beans do make for a great and smooth cup of coffee.

Quality Standards Of Coffee In Brazil
Brazilian Coffee Make A Good Well Rounded Cup Of Coffee

Brazil’s Special And Complex Coffee Grading System

Brazil has an official classification system (Classificação Oficial Brasileira) or COB for short.

It is a system that has been developed over a number of years and is based on the business practices and codified by the Brazilian Government in 2002 and when compared to other coffee producing nations it is a more complex and more detailed system of classification.

The grading is performed on a 300 gram sample where they look for a number of defects and then grade the quality on a number based system where the lower the number the better the quality. For example, Type 3 is better than Type 4.

The coffee is then subject to further classification relating to the cup:

  • Group I: The highest quality arabica variety with no rio cups
  • Group II: Rio-cupping arabica variety which has a notable iodine taste
  • Group III: Conillon (robusta variety).

For international export, a more standard grading system is used for international buyers to understand better. It is common for the Green Coffee Association’s system to be used.

Best Brazilian Coffee Beans

It is easy to find Brazilian coffee; you never need to go far to find it, no matter where you are in the world.

It can be hard to find an excellent Brazilian coffee.

Here are my top choices of coffee from Brazil.

1. Brazilian Peaberry Coffee By Volcanica

  • Roast Profile: Medium Roast.
  • Tasting Notes: Raspberry tones with sweet hints of hazelnut.
  • Whole Bean Or Ground Coffee: Both.

Peaberry coffee is a special and rare mutation where only one coffee bean is found inside the coffee cherry instead of two. The result of this is that the one single bean gets all the nutrients and flavor without the need to share it with another bean.

Being a volcanic coffee, grown on mineral rich volcanic soil, the beans have an elevated mineral content.

The roaster, Volcanica Coffee roasts their beans fresh as soon as your order is placed for maximum freshness. This Brazilian Volcanic Peaberry coffee is full-bodied, sweet and with a low to medium acidity. It is a very classic Brazilian coffee profile.

It is single origin from Minas Gerais, the State known for producing premium quality coffee. The roaster is known and well respected by coffee lovers for their approach to freshness and are Rainforest Alliance certified. It is always good to see a company encouraging sustainable practices – regardless of where the coffee is produced.

You will find them on Amazon, but in my opinion and experience you are better ordering direct from the company. Ordering direct ensures fresh-roasted coffee.

Brazil Peaberry Coffee
Brazilian Peaberry Coffee

2. Brazil Yellow Bourbon Coffee By Volcanica

  • Roast Profile: Medium Roast.
  • Tasting Notes: Smooth with tones of almonds, with sweet hints and a lemon citrus acidity.
  • Whole Bean Or Ground Coffee: Both.

A great and rare South American coffee from the yellow Bourbon variety of Arabica coffee beans that are known for their mellow flavor and being very smooth. The Bourbon variety is a very specific Arabic coffee plant and is rare. A treat for your taste buds. Naturally processed for maximum flavor.

Brazil Yellow Bourbon Coffee Beans
Brazil Yellow Bourbon Coffee Cherries

3. Volcanica’s Low Acid Blend

  • Roast Profile: Medium Roast.
  • Tasting Notes: Tangerine, nuts and hints of chocolate.
  • Whole Bean Or Ground: Both.

Yes,

Volcanica Coffee dominates the top three positions on our list. There is a reason for this – you can trust them for top quality coffee and these are, after trying many different brands and beans are the best that Brazil has on offer.

Great tasting coffee is the perfect marriage between the grower and the roaster.

A coffee roaster can be given great beans but spoil them with poor roasting techniques, but a roaster cannot turn poor beans into a great coffee. Volcanica are a specialty coffee company that only sources the best quality beans and are master roasters.

This is mellow low acidity beans have tangy tones of tangerine, nuts and chocolate for a very relaxed single origin coffee.

Volcanica's Low Acid Blend
Volcanica’s Low Acid Blend

4. Brazilian By Black Inc Coffee Company

  • Roast Profile: Medium Roast.
  • Tasting Notes: Honey nut, chocolate and hints of peanut butter.
  • Whole Bean Or Ground: Both.

This coffee is handpicked and naturally processed and produces a very sweet, rich honey and nut taste with a peculiar and notable peanut butter notes. This alone makes it worth trying!

Brazilian By Black Inc Coffee Company
Brazilian By Black Inc Coffee Company

5. Peet’s Brazilian Minas Naturais

  • Roast Profile: Medium Roast.
  • Tasting Notes: Fruity with hints of toasted hazelnuts.
  • Whole Bean Or Ground: Both.

I am guilty as charged of being a fan of Peet’s coffee. They are a long-established and a real big player in the global coffee scene. They stand out for their hand roasting of their beans only after your order has been received, ensuring maximum freshness.

You simply know that your beans are fresh.

This coffee is from the Minas Gerais State and are naturally processed, which brings out the fruity flavor with a prominent and pronounced sweet roasted hazelnut taste that really comes through, which is typical of this region.

These beans go very well as a French press coffee which brings out the rich flavor of the beans. A cold brew coffee really brings out the sweet tastes.

Peet's Brazilian Coffee
Peet’s Brazilian Coffee

Coffee Fact: Coffee is at its freshest and peak flavor 48 to 72 hours after roasting. This means that any company like Peet’s and Volcanica who roast your coffee when the order has been received and then deliver to you, you will have your beans in peak condition by the time you receive them.

Most Suitable Roast Profile For Brazilian Coffee Beans

Brazilian coffee beans are good in a range of roast profiles. With a lighter roast you will experience a cup of coffee that is very low in acid, smooth and hints of chocolate and nuts.

A darker roast highlights the toasted nutty character and full-body with the chocolatey notes transitioning from a milk chocolate to a deeper cocoa taste.

For great coffee that brings out the best of the beans is a medium roast, a more balanced roast which highlights more of the unique flavors and notes of the beans than dark and light roasts.

The Best Way To Brew Brazilian Coffee

Okay, know that you know literally all that you need to know about Brazilian coffee beans and have an in depth overview in this guide. All that is left is to select a brewing method that will bring out the sweet notes and subtle hints of nuttiness and chocolate while remaining full-bodied and low in acidity.

For each brew method and technique, use the correct brewing time and your ground coffee is of an ideal grind size.

Espresso

Brazilian coffees have a habit of making their way into an espresso blend as they are perfect for making a shot of espresso, ristretto and a lungo. It is also great for an espresso based drink like a latte, cappuccino, flat white, cortado, mocha, macchiato, and many more.

French Press

As a matter of full disclosure, I’ll lay it out straight. I love this brewing technique, and hand on my heart – it is the best brewing method for specialty coffee beans as it is one of the few brew methods where you have full control over all the variables of coffee brewing. Grind size, brew time, temperature and coffee to water ratio.

It is one of the best full immersion brewing techniques.

It is a technique that is perfect for Brazilian coffee due to the low acidity and helps to bring around a more pronounced sweet chocolate notes from the beans.

Brazilian French Press
Bodum, The Brazilian French Press

Cold Brew

We can’t always enjoy a hot coffee. Cold brew is great in the summer and is very refreshing. Brazilian beans are great at producing a very mellow and smooth cold brew coffee.

What Can You Have With Brazilian Coffee?

Of course, you can enjoy your Brazilian coffee on its own or with some appetizers, light snacks or, with those lovely dipped in sugar / sugar coated orange peel treats that are served with your Cafezinho.

Fruit

Berries, apples and cantaloupe are great and go well with the country’s best known and in-demand export. Fruit tarts add a lovely dimension to heavy, bold full-bodied coffee.

Chocolate

The sweet notes of Brazilian coffee pair well with a quality dark chocolate. The bitter and rich flavors are a quality snack with a well-rounded smooth coffee.

Bread

Freshly baked bread, be it toast, a pastry will give you the heavenly earthy notes of the freshly made bread with a bold brew.

Pão de queijo, a cheesy bread is a common snack that Brazilians enjoy with their morning brew.

Bonus points if you put Nutella on your fresh bread and enjoy your morning Cafezinho!

Brazilian coffee beans are special for their low acidity, heavy body and sweet caramel and chocolate notes.

The flavor is intense and exemplifies their quality which is often underestimated due to people being over customised to coffee from Brazil, an over familiarity with their regular coffee being the most common and not their specialty grade coffee, which is great coffee, fabulous coffee of the highest grade possible.

Brazilian coffee beans have a very distinctive flavor that is low in acidity, sweet, smooth creamy body and caramel, chocolate and nutty notes that are distinctive.

Is Brazilian Coffee Strong?

Yes, Brazilian coffee is strong and notable in flavor and caffeine. Their flavor is notable for the intense sweetness which comes from the caramel and cocoa notes and full body.

Caffeine, due to their blends by coffee companies using exclusively Brazilian beans,  particularly when used in espresso blends as it is common for 30% of the blend to consist of Robusta beans.

Traditional Brazilian Coffee Drink

The traditional coffee in Brazil is a Cafezinho which is served all over the country and enjoyed black, although it is becoming increasingly common for Brazilians to add cream or milk to it to thicken the texture and lighten the taste. It is made with Rapadura, which is unrefined cane sugar.

Frequently Asked Questions About Brazilian Coffee Beans

What Is Brazilian Coffee Made Of?

Brazilian coffee is a very rich blend of 4 different coffee beans that have been blended to produce a smooth, rich and creamy taste. They are a mix of Mundo Novo, Icatu, Obata and Catuai.

Brazilian natural coffee is coffee  from Brazil that has been naturally processed by specialty coffee roasters by dry processing (also known as natural processing) or semi washed (also known as pulp natural).

Brazil is one of the few countries that have the perfect climate for natural processing of coffee due to the lack of rainfall and a long dry season and long periods of sunshine.

Is Brazilian Coffee Arabica?

Brazilian coffee is predominantly Arabica coffee. 70% of the beans produced are of the Arabica variety. The remaining is of course Robusta coffee. In the South American nation, the Arabica beans are produced in Minas Gerais. 

Starbucks sources their coffee beans, which are almost exclusively Arabica coffee beans, from the three key coffee producing regions of Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

The coffee empire and conglomerate gets their best and signature blends from the Asia-Pacific region. They don’t reveal for trademark reasons which specific countries or regions within the countries they come from.

Colombian coffee has a tendency to be stronger in flavor and acidity than Brazilian coffee beans. They are fruitier also.

In terms of caffeine content Brazilian coffee is a little higher, especially their espresso blends that contain robusta beans. Brazilian coffee is also low in acidity and makes a great cup of coffee.

Final Thoughts – Brazilian Coffee Beans

If I have missed anything out in the guide about Brazilian Coffee Beans, or if there is more than I can add, I’ll be delighted to.

Just contact us via our coffee community on Facebook/Meta and tell us what I missed out.

It is impossible to know everything, even though I try to be very detailed. It is appreciated if tell us what can be added to improve this article and make it more informative.

Did you try one of our top 5 Brazilian coffees? What did you make with it? What did you have with it? Join us on Facebook/Meta and let us know!

Coffee is love, it's more than love — it's a passion of mine. I've had the luck to have travelled and enjoyed the most exotic of coffee's and unique flavors, brewing methods and techniques of making the perfect coffee from Thai hill tribe coffee to Indonesian volcanic coffee, Malaysian coffee that comes in a tea bag and the array of flavors in Vietnam, from Vanilla to Orange to Coconut to Avocado to even salt coffee and the famous egg coffee. The best part of my coffee adventures is getting to mix with the locals over a nice brew and learning how they make it! I'm cited and referenced on Google Scholar for the topic of coffee.

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