The Fascinating History of Brazilian Coffee

The Fascinating History of Brazilian Coffee

The coffee plant is not native to Brazil and was first introduced in 1727 from French Guinea. According to the legend, Portugal who had colonised Brazil, were looking for a cut of the coffee market seeing the potential for this crop to flourish here. The legend goes that the seeds for their first coffee plant had to be smuggled from French Guinea.

Initially coffee was mainly consumed in Brazil by the European colonists. As demand grew for coffee in Europe and USA, internal production ramped up to meet this demand and by 1820 Brazil was the #1 coffee producing country in the world. At one point in the late 1800’s, disease had devastated coffee production in Asia, which paved the way for Brazil during that period to ramp up production further and were producing up to 80% of the worlds coffee during this time.


The main coffee producing regions in Brazil are Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, São Paulo and Bahia.

The south-eastern state of Minas Gerais is the largest producing state accounting for approximately 55% of production. It also happens to be the major source of Specialty grade coffee within Brazil

The Sul de Manais region within Minas Gerais state accounts for approximately 35% of national production. With high altitude averaging 950MASL, and a mild annual temperature of 22c, with many small farms ranging from 10-100 hectare, here you will find some of the best Brazilian coffees being produced. As is the case for our Brazilian pick this season from the Sul de Manasi region


Species wise Brazil grows predominantly 80% Arabica, to 20% Robusta. The main varieties grown are;

Bourbon, Catuaí, Mundo Novo, Icatu, Obatã, and Catuaí Rubi  


April to September


The tremendous growth of Specialty grade coffee worldwide has saved many small scale producers in Brazil which was in decline with many going out of business due to the economies of scale seen from the large mass produced commoditized coffee producers.

This has paved the way for the ‘Fazendas’ farm model to develop at rapid pace, embracing technological innovation and now see Brazil produce some of the finest Specialty grade coffees in the world.

It is now estimated that up to 10% of total coffee production in Brazil is dedicated toward developing outstanding quality Specialty grade coffees, and is expected to continue to rise as a share of total production due to consumers becoming increasingly aware of the difference and benefits both in terms of quality of end product, and the sustainable and fair business practices typically achieved by demanding higher price for their product that is seen with Specialty coffee farmers.

Coffee Processing


There are typically three common ways to process coffee after harvesting cherries:

  1. Wet (often called washed)
  2. Dry (often called natural)
  3. Semi-washed (often called pulped natural).

The vast majority of coffee beans in Brazil are processed via dry method, despite Brazil being a tropical climate, throughout the harvesting season (April-September), the weather is typically very dry lending itself well to the dry processing method.

For a more thorough understanding of various coffee processing techniques and main characteristics thereof, see a link to our article covering this here;


Whilst like fine wines, Specialty grade coffees should be understood for their own distinct profiles and characteristics, as a generalisation Brazilian coffee can be loosely categorised in the following way; Smooth bodies, low acidity, sweet, typically with notes of chocolate, caramel with slightly nutty notes.

We have indeed selected this seasons Brazilian coffee in this vein, of course being Specialty grade it has it’s own unique characteristics, but our Brazilian Fezanda Santa Hedwirges definitely falls in to the appreciated and sought after Brazilian coffee with that unmistakeable ‘snickers’ mouth feel, see for yourself here;


  1. Brazil is the #1 producer of coffee in the world
  2. Brazil has been the #1 producer of coffee for the last 150 years
  3. Brazil is the #1 consumer of coffee in the world
  4. Brazil produced 50-60 million bags (60kg e/a) of coffee each year, which makes up 30% of global production
  5. 80% of Brazil’s coffee is Arabica
  6. 10% of Brazil’s coffee production capability is now dedicated to Specialty Grade coffee circa 5-6 million bags (60kg) each year
  7. Brazil has circa 290,000 coffee growers
  8. The Brazilian coffee industry generates about 3.5 million jobs
  9. The general coffee harvest in Brazil is between April and September
  10. Children are widely given coffee at school to help increase domestic consumption.
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