Brazil produces more coffee than any other country in the world! As such, coffee from Brazil can vary in quality and processing, but most premium Brazilian beans will have lower acidity levels, nutty and chocolate flavors, and a bittersweet aftertaste. Brazilian coffee is what most coffee shops will use to make your espresso.
Top Recommended Brazilian Coffee
- Country of Origin – Brazil
- Regions – all over, but highest production in the Southeast
- Best Known Growers – Café Pilao, Café Do Ponto, Brazilian Santos, etc.
- Altitude – 800 to 1,600 meters
- Harvest – May to September
- Milling Process – dry (premium beans are washed)
- Aroma – rich, nutty and sometimes bitter
- Flavor – nutty, chocolatey, bittersweet
- Body – light, medium or bold depending on location
- Acidity – low to medium
- Certification – Organic and Fair Trade available.
About the Bean
Coffee was first brought to Brazil in the early 1700s. It was actually smuggled in a bouquet of flowers to settle a border dispute – who’d have thought it would now be a $60 billion industry and make Brazil the biggest exporter of coffee in the world.
Some coffee snobs (and a few of the Coffee Dorks, if I’m honest) do not like Brazilian coffee. The vast majority of Arabica coffee (the Robusta coffee grown in Brazil is mostly consumed by the locals) is produced with a “quantity over quality” mindset. Combined with low altitudes and poor soils, some Brazilian coffee tastes like dirt.
The keyword here is some.
The main coffee growing regions are Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Bahia and Espirito Santo. Some areas within these regions are starting to grow more Fair Trade, Organic and premium coffee beans.
Our recommended Brazilian coffee is from Cerrado, a huge coffee growing region in Bahia with areas of good quality, great quality, and poor-quality coffee. These coffees tend to have low acidity and a nutty flavor. The dark roast we’ve chosen has a chocolatey flavor and aroma – lighter roasts will have a more caramel flavor.
The body of Cerrado coffee is clean, slightly creamy and very well-balanced. This gentle (some people may say boring) quality makes it a very popular coffee bean for espresso blends with stronger flavored coffees. It’s a perfect starter coffee for beginners.
About the Region
In general, Brazil is not suited to grow coffee. Without high elevations and fertile, volcanic soil, growing coffee here is an uphill struggle. But they’ve persevered and are now the biggest producer of coffee in the world – and the majority of it is cheap, easily available and drunk on mass in your nearest Starbucks.
Brazil is a flat country, with elevations dipping as low as 800 meters for growing coffee. Even the highest elevations where coffee is grown in Brazil are lower than other coffee growing regions like Sumatra, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
Temperatures rarely dip below 20°C and there’s frequent rainfall year-round, which is really all that Brazil can boast when it comes to growing coffee.
The Cerrado region is so flat (850 meters) that the harvesting process can be done via machines rather than handpicking! This further reduces the cost and allows us to enjoy a relatively good tasting cup of coffee for a low price.
Don’t be put off though, there are some areas of Cerrado that produce a high-quality bean if you look out for them. The mechanical harvesting and processing also eliminate room for human error – if you pick a specific grade Cerrado bean, you know that’s all you’ll be getting.
Give Brazilian coffee a try for yourself to decide whether this low-cost bean could be your next everyday favorite.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.