When we think of the best coffee, we primarily think of Brazilian coffee. This is because Brazil produces some of the world’s best coffee and has done so for the past 150 years! It all started in 1727 in Pará, Brazil, when Francisco de Melo Palheta planted the first tree. With coffee production starting in Pará, it arrived in Rio de Janeiro gradually by 1770.
Initially, it was planted just for the sole consumption of Brazil. All things changed in the 19th century when Europe and America started demanding more of this Brazilian coffee. So by 1820, plantations started to take root in the Brazilian regions of Mina Gerais, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro—by then, the country was producing 20% of the world’s coffee. When 1830 came, coffee was the largest export of Brazil, which was already 30% of the world’s production!
From the span of 1880 to 1930, Brazil had a substantial increase in coffee production. By 1920, Brazil supplied 80% of the world’s coffee (imagine having almost the entire world dependent on you for coffee!). In more recent times, Brazil supplies almost 60% of the world’s total production (still not a bad feat to be producing for more than half the world).
So, why was there such a clamor for Brazilian coffee and why is it still true today? Perhaps it can be credited to their unique picking method. Brazil strip picks it traditionally—this means that they will only make a pass or two on a tree. So if there is uneven ripening, all levels of ripeness are chosen.
But even beyond their traditional picking method, Brazil makes such great tasting coffee because they go the natural and pulped natural method route in terms of processing. If you would ask a regular Brazilian on the street about this method, they might just inform you that this traditional processing for the past 150 years (even before pulping machines were available) has helped create this very unique Brazilian coffee blend of complexity and sweetness.
What many do not realize, however, is that Brazilian coffee is very popular, also because of its great diversity throughout the country. Traditionally and through specialty coffee, Brazilian coffee is known to be nutty, mildly sweet, and full of body. Nowadays, through advancements in processing and sorting, it can be intensely sweet with chocolate and caramel notes and complimentary acidic.
The diversity in Brazilian coffee is also brought about by the different coffee growing regions in the country. In the largest coffee-growing region of Brazil, Minas Gerais covers 50% of the country’s production and produces its main specialty coffee sources. The region of São Paulo, on the other hand, is one of the more traditional areas in Brazil for growing, producing pure Arabica coffee, and home to Port of Santos, where coffee leaves Brazil. Espiritu Santo, another growing region, is second in Brazilian coffee production, with 28% of its coffee being Arabica. The warm climate and high altitude region of Bahia, farms 75% Arabica coffee, while the Parana region grows Arabica coffee exclusively. Lastly, the region of Rodonia is dedicated solely to Conilon or Robusta coffee.