Brazil has long since earned its place as the global powerhouse of coffee exports. This country produces a staggering $5 billion in coffee per year on average, making it an origin that’s hard to miss.
How did Brazil reach such a coveted position in the first place? It’s believed Brazil (literally) grew its reputation as a coffee producer in the late 17th century, thanks to the efforts of Portuguese traders.
Despite recent cold snaps, the country’s hot and temperate climate is usually ideal for growing high-quality coffee beans. Just about any cafe or restaurant that sells coffee will have Brazilian blends to serve their clientele.
Want to check out some of today’s best Brazilian coffee brands? We have a few suggestions below to get you started.
About Brazilian Coffee
Coffee first arrived in Brazil in 1727 thanks to Francisco de Mello Palheta. He was assigned to visit French Guiana to obtain coffee seeds, which were given to him by the governor’s wife.
Palheta brought the seeds to Belém, a city in Brazil, and thus the Brazilian coffee industry was born.
Coffee beans became a main export by the early 19th century. Since then, coffee has become an important part of Brazil’s economy.
New railway systems were built that led to the famous Port of Santos in São Paulo, which has become one of Brazil’s main locations for coffee exportation.
The downfall of the industry in the early 20th century was a quota agreement established between the International Coffee Organization and the Brazilian Coffee Institute. This pushed Brazilian coffee farms to focus on meeting a quota, rather than the quality of the coffee.
A new plan for the Brazilian coffee industry came in the 1990s with a new government that broke away from the quotas.
Specialty coffee has since started to become a prominent force in Brazilian coffee production and exportation once again.
Coffee Regions of Brazil
Most of Brazil’s coffee is produced in the eastern, western, and southern portions of the country. There are four coffee-producing states that take up almost 90% of production, but more than 30 coffee-producing regions are spread across 14 states.
The states of Acre, Rondônia, Espírito Santo, and Mato Grosso are responsible for most of the Robusta bean production.
The eastern and southern states mostly produce Arabica beans. About 85% of Brazil’s coffee is Arabica varieties, while the rest are Robusta.
Lower-altitude regions grow Robusta coffee plants, whereas higher-altitude regions grow Arabica beans. This is due to different conditions that these two varieties generally grow best in.
Arabica beans develop better at 600 meters above sea level or higher. Robusta beans can be grown from sea level to 600 meters.
The four main coffee-producing regions responsible for more than three-quarters of Brazil’s production include:
- Minas Gerais
- Espírito Santo
- São Paulo
Minas Gerais produces the most coffee out of all of the states. It is also known for producing specialty coffee. Most beans grown in the regions within this state are Arabica varieties that are grown 800 meters above sea level or higher.
Espírito Santo is second to Minas Gerais in producing the most coffee in the country. Approximately 40% of the farms in this state’s regions grow Robusta coffee plants.
São Paulo consists of five main coffee-growing regions. It is considered the historical coffee state because coffee that first arrived in Brazil quickly spread to São Paulo regions. Brazil’s main coffee export location, Port of Santos, is located in this state.
One of the most high-tech coffee states in Brazil is Bahia. Regions within this state use advanced technology for planting, harvesting, and processing. Bahia has one of the highest productivity rates for coffee in the country.
Brazilian Coffee Bean Varieties
Brazil grows two main types of coffee plant varietals: Arabica and Robusta. Many Brazilian residents drink coffee made from Robusta beans, but most of the beans exported are Arabica.
Most of the Arabica varietals you’ll find in Brazil include:
- Mundo Novo
- Obtata rojo
Mundo Novo and Catuaí are the most popular Arabica varieties. Mundo Novo naturally stems from a hybrid between the Bourbon and Typica varieties.
Catuaí was made by the Instituto Agronômico de Campinas from the Mundo Novo and Caturra varieties. Both develop best when grown at altitudes between 1,000 and 1,300 meters above sea level.
Obata Rojo is a little less common than the Mundo Novo or Catuaí varieties, but it has a high yield. It is also resistant to coffee leaf rust, which is quite uncommon amongst Arabica varieties.
It is best grown at altitudes between 700 and 1,300 meters to produce a good quality cup.
Brazilian Coffee Flavour Profiles
The flavor of Brazilian coffee can vary widely depending on the variety of the beans, the altitude the beans are grown at, and how they are processed.
Overall, a good quality cup of Brazilian coffee will generally be low in acidity, have some sweetness, and have a medium body.
Some beans grown at higher altitudes may have a fuller body, while beans grown at lower altitudes could have a lighter body.
Full-bodied coffee has a thicker mouthfeel and generally has deeper flavor notes. Light-bodied coffee feels thinner and won’t seem as intense. Medium-bodied is a nice in-between if you don’t want to pick between two extremes.
The states and regions in which the coffee is grown will also play a major role in the flavor profiles. The climate and terrain vary between regions.
Here are some examples of the different flavor profiles you may get with the main Brazilian coffee states.
- Fruity aroma
- Hints of citrus
- Nutty, caramel, and chocolate notes
- Medium to full body
São Paulo and Bahia
- Medium to full body
- Low acidity
- Robust flavor
- Low to medium acidity
These flavors and attributes may also vary depending upon which region they are grown in. Most Brazilian coffee beans will have sweet notes with some citrus or rich chocolate notes and high or low acidity.
What to Look for When Buying Brazilian Coffee
As you’re shopping for Brazilian coffee, you may want to consider a few things before you buy. If you’re a fan of Robusta beans, you may like coffee from the states of Espírito Santo, Acre, Rondônia, or Mato Grosso.
Robusta beans tend to be less acidic and contain twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans. Most Robusta beans are also used for blends and instant coffees. These beans generally don’t have a complex flavor profile.
If you want high-quality beans grown at high altitudes, you might prefer Arabica beans from the southeastern coffee states of Brazil. Arabica beans are the most desired beans around the world and are considered to be of higher quality.
The best Brazilian coffee brands ultimately come down to what your coffee preferences are. There are many unique, single-origin coffee brands that can taste amazing, whether they derive from the Robusta or Arabica coffee plant.
5 Brazilian Coffee Brands to Try
Peet’s Coffee – Brazil
Peet’s Brazilian coffee is a single-origin medium roast from the Minas Gerais region. It is naturally processed, which can add sweet and complex flavors to the beans. This coffee has some notes of hazelnut sweetness and hints of dried fruit.
The roast date is labeled on the package so you’ll be able to know how fresh the bag is. This coffee is best used for drip or pour-over coffee because it comes ground. It may not have the same freshness as whole beans.
Smokin Beans Coffee – Brazil Peaberry
Smokin Beans Coffee specializes in selling single-origin, unroasted green coffee beans. These Brazilian peaberry beans are from Poços de Caldas, a city located in the Minas Gerais state of Brazil.
This coffee consists of Arabica varieties grown in a temperate climate at about 975 meters above sea level. Flavors to expect are hazelnut, orange, chocolate, and brown sugar.
It might not be the best option if you’re unable to roast your own beans at home.
Trident Coffee – Brazil Carmo De Minas
Trident Coffee offers a Brazilian medium roast from the city of Carmo De Minas, located in Minas Gerais. It has hints of creamy nuttiness, complemented by notes of chocolate and sweet caramel.
These beans are grown between 1,050 and 1,250 meters above sea level, which gives them a full body and intense flavors and aroma.
Black Tucano Coffee – Brazilian Atlantic Forest
Made from 100% Arabica beans, Black Tucano Brazilian coffee is an organic medium roast. The beans are grown between 1,000 and 1,200 meters above sea level in the eastern regions of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.
These beans produce a creamy body with balanced acidity. It has notes of cocoa, milk chocolate, and peanuts.
Fresh Roasted Coffee – Dark Brazil Cerrado
Dark Brazil Cerrado by Fresh Roasted Coffee is a medium-dark roast that consists of Mundo Novo and Catuaí varieties. The beans are a little oily, which produces a bold, full-bodied cup.
The cocoa, caramelized fruit, and walnut tasting notes give this coffee a rich flavor profile. The beans are harvested from May to September, so the best time to buy them would be around July to November to get the freshest exported beans.
Overview – Brazilian Coffee Brands
Brazil is the largest coffee producer and exporter in the world, producing tens of millions of 60-kg bags each year. There are several coffee-producing states and regions within Brazil, all with special climates and terrain that give the beans a distinct flavor profile.
Arabica and Robusta coffee plants are grown in Brazil, but Arabica beans are its main export. The beans are generally grown either below 600 meters or above 900 meters. There are some common characteristics you’ll find in Brazilian coffee, such as:
- Sweet notes
- Hints of chocolate or nuttiness
- Varying acidity levels (high or low)
- Smooth, medium-bodied coffee
If you’re looking for a Brazilian coffee brand that truly tastes like Brazil, we suggest trying the Trident Brazil Carmo de Minas coffee.
This coffee has signature Brazilian flavors of chocolate, nuts, and sweet caramel. It is grown in Brazil’s largest coffee-producing state of Minas Gerais, and grown at higher altitudes which can improve the quality of the beans.