A Brief History of Brazilian Coffee
For three centuries, Brazil has been the backbone of the world’s coffee supply.
Coffee was first brought to Brazil by Fransisco De Melo Palheta from French Guyana in 1727. Throughout the eighteenth century it was produced solely for domestic consumption by European colonists until rising demand in Europe and North America encouraged local farmers to increase their scale of production
As international demand for coffee continued to boom, Brazil’s production grew exponentially. By 1840 the country was the largest exporter of coffee in the world, supplying over 40% of the world’s demand. Its growth didn’t slow down until 1920, when the nation had all but monopolized the industry as a supplier of more than 80% of the world’s coffee.
Coffee played an integral part of transforming Brazil’s economy from a strictly agrarian to an industrialized one. The production of the commodity was what brought about the construction of the first railroad system in the country, and the income it generated facilitated the growth of some of Brazil’s largest cities such as Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Brazilian Coffee Economy
Today Brazil is still the largest coffee producing/exporting country in the world, though its dominance over the market has slowly waned since the mid-20th century as international demand has increased and other countries see opportunity to vie for market share.
Brazil is responsible for producing 2.7 million tons (twice as much as Vietnam, the second largest producer) of coffee a year, supplying about one third of the world’s green coffee.
There are about 220,000 farms in Brazil, that cover over 10,000 square miles and employ 3.5 million people to keep the world’s caffeine supply steady and plentiful.
Coffee is still the single most significant export out of Brazil, accounting for 2.5% of the nation’s income, but its importance has declined dramatically from the mid 20th century when it peaked at 64% of the country’s income.
Brazilian coffee has received a bad rap in the last couple of decades. The specialty coffee movement has accustomed people to refined flavors which are characteristic of small-lot farms and manual methods of harvesting that, for a long time, were a thing of antiquity in the world’s largest coffee producing nation. But in light of rising global demand for high-quality brews, Brazil has taken advantage of its large resource pool and vast tracts of fertile land to become one of the world’s leading innovators in growing/harvesting/processing methods, while still holding true to the flavor profile that world has come to know and love over the last two centuries.
Brazil features coffees with a full body and a smooth, even creamy mouthfeel. The nuances of its flavor can vary from region to region and strain to strain, but Brazilian coffees almost universally bring rich, chocolate notes to the forefront of the brews, followed a lingering nutty flavor and a fruity, cherry finish. This flavor set makes these coffees exceptionally versatile, allowing for a smooth, low-acid espresso to pair beautifully with milk, or a nuanced pour-over to be sipped. Due to its versatility and massive supply, you will find Brazilian exports wherever you look in the coffee world, from big box-retailers to the finest coffee houses in the country.