Brazilian Coffee Regions

Brazil is the world's leading grower and exporter of coffee beans, with a mellow flavor that makes for a very typical dark roast. About one-third of all of the world's coffee is grown in Brazil, and much of Brazil's premium coffee is labeled Santos after the port it is shipped through. Altitude Range:  400 - 1,600 meters above sea level Harvest: May – September Coffee Production in Thousand 60kg bags: =19,625 From Feb-20-July-20 Next update on Oct 1-2020 Common Varieties: Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Catuai, Acaia, Mundo Novo, Icatu Brazil is the largest exporter in the world, supplying approximately 60% of the world's coffee - this is due in part to the sheer size of the country. While Brazil is a prolific exporter, it's average elevation for coffee production is only about 1,100 meters. This qualifies most of it as High Grown Coffee (900-1,200 meters), but some crops certainly fall below that threshold. Many high quality espresso blends are made from either Bourbon Santos or Brazil Cerrado due to the ability of Brazilian coffees to take dark roasts without turning overly bitter. This is due in part to the mild, balance flavour of Brazilian coffee beans. 

The best Brazilian coffees have a relatively low acidity, and exhibits a nutty sweet flavor, often bittersweet with a chocolaty roast taste. Most unroasted Brazilian green coffee is dry processed (unwashed; natural). The most favorable quality of a Brazilian coffee is its price - but after that, the mildness helps to balance out more intense coffee beans, making it a feature of many blends. BOURBON SANTOS COFFEE Bourbon Santos is a medium to high quality, wet processed (washed) coffee from Brazil; usually shipped through the port of Santos. A good Brazilian Bourbon Santos has a light to medium body, yields a low acidity, and has a very pleasant aroma. 

The Bourbon coffee plant varietal (Coffeaarabica var. bourbon) tends to produce coffees that are fruiter and brighter (more acidic) than other Brazil coffees. The low acidity of Brazilian Bourbon Santos derives from the region's lower growing elevations. This is low relative to areas such as Central America where higher elevation plantations (e.g., 1,500 meters above sea level) produce premium gourmet coffees that are brighter (higher acidity). BOURBON SANTOS COFFEE FARMING Most Bourbon Santos is grown in northern Minas Gerais or in the State of Sao Paulo, in Brazil.


The size of the industry and volume output means that there's more opportunity for grading and classifying Brazilian coffees. They take full advantage of this, sorting by screen (size), color and cupping (flavor). This puts them into a few classifications (best to worse) - strictly soft, soft, softish, hard, riada, rio and rio zona.For this reason bringing the unroasted green coffee beans to a Medium-Dark Roast (Vienna Roast; Full City Roast) is recommended - though roasting too dark may still cause an ashy bitterness. The upside to the mellow flavor and high production levels is that Brazilian green coffee beans are typically very affordable, making it a great base a coffee or espresso blend. The flavors of the primary coffee are allowed to shine through, while keeping costs in check.

Brazil’s Alta MogianaMineira region

Specialty care should be taken to buy only whole-bean coffees that are fresh roasted rather than have been sitting on store shelves. Brazilian coffees are mild flavored to begin with, and stale Brazil tend to be completely devoid of flavor.Coffees that sit on retail store shelving or in distribution warehouses (eg. Amazon) are typically roasted weeks or months before being sold. Roasted whole bean coffee should be 2-3 weeks old at maximum (if in a valve sealed bag), and ground coffee should be consumed within 1 week of grinding.Furthermore, if you order an espresso or an espresso drink at your local coffeehouse, there is probably a predominance of coffee from Brazil in the grounds used - often up to 90% of the coffee in an espresso blend is from Brazil.


COFFEE GROWING REGIONS Micro climates within certain regions of Brazil can produce some outstanding coffees. In particular, some specific areas within Cerrado, Matas de Minas, Mogiana, and Sul de Minas regions are known to cultivate excellent coffee.MINAS GERAIS

Minas Gerais 

Minas Gerais means "General Mines", named after the gold rush in the 18th century. It is the largest coffee-growing state in Brazil, accounting for close to 50% of the total coffee grown. It's here that you'll find Sul de Minas, with it's mild climate consistently around 22 Celsius. The "small" farms range from 10 to 100 hectares and produce almost 30% of all Brazilian coffees, known for being full bodied with fruity aromas and citric flavors.Brazil is synonymous with so many things in the collective imagination: samba, soccer, beaches, and carnival, to name a few. However, back at the turn of the 19th century, Brazil was famous for one thing and one thing only: coffee.The cultivation of coffee beans helped the country expand into the powerhouse to where it is today, and was in large part responsible for the development of Brazil’s southeastern region, the wealthiest part of the country today.Over a hundred years on, Brazil is still the world’s largest coffee producer, yet around the country, growers are beginning to focus more on quality than on quantity.An unforgettable coffee experienceOne of the most popular coffee tourism experiences in Brazil is the Rota de Café Especial, or Specialty Coffee Trail, located in the town of São Lourenço, to the south of the state of Minas Gerais. 

The region is one of five in Brazil to have a guaranteed seal of origin for its coffee. The town is easily accessible by bus from the cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Belo Horizonte.The 4-hour long tour takes visitors on a journey throughout the history of coffee production in Brazil, from the fruit's arrival in the country in 1770, all the way up to the present day and the production of some of the world’s highest-rated specialty coffees.Guides show tourists the entire process of coffee production, from selecting the best beans all the way up to brewing the perfect cup. There is even a lesson on coffee tasting at the end of the tour, where visitors learn how to become proper coffee tasters, noting acidity, aroma, body and other such qualities, which specialty coffees in Minas Gerais have in abundance.SAO PAULOSao Paulo is where you'll find the infamous Port of Santos, and is composed of Mogiana, and Centre-Oeste de Sao Paulo. The altitude in Mogiana are some of the highest in Brazil ranging from 900 to 1,100 meters above sea level.BAHIABahia is broken into a couple of regions and is located further in North-East. It's fairly new to the coffee growing, having only started planting coffee in the 70s, but extensively deployed new technology to become the powerhouse in the country. Brazilian Cerrado coffees come from this region, which is primarily Arabica.A combination of irrigation systems and consistent weather help the coffees to grow uniformly and is harvested mechanically by large equipment, increasing the efficiency and yield.ESPIRITO SANTOEspirito Santo grows primarily Robusta coffee beans and doesn't get much attention in the specialty coffee market, but is actually the second highest producer in Brazil by volume. 

The main regions here are Montanhas de Espirito Santo and ConilonCapixaba.BEST BRANDSBeing the largest producer in the world means that Brazil is home to a huge number of coffee brands. The primary focus of the Brazilian coffee industry is quantity output, and without the same elevations as other countries, Brazilian coffees are typically known to be good "base" coffees with mild flavors. This means they're more often used as a filler, rather than as the main driver of flavor.Premium specialty coffees are less common as a percentage, but do exist. Good trade relations with North American and European countries means that Brazilian coffee brands with a unique product are able to export coffees direct to other markets.Most coffee roasters in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia will have Brazilian coffees as a key component of a blend or as a single origin itself. Here we've taken a look at some of the more worthwhile brands to consider.Brazil's huge output means that even sub-sections of the industry are often larger than some entire countries. It's difficult to set a single standard when there are as many as fourteen major producing regions spread over 7 states.Recent efforts by the Brazilian government have sought to change the perception of the product as simply a filler and rebrand Brazil as a specialty coffee. Organic and Fair Trade certified coffee originating from Brazil is becoming more common.Because of the relatively lower elevations in Brazil, only very rarely is there Brazilian coffee available as Strictly High Grown (SHG), a title reserved the best beans in the world. While snobs may not appreciate this, Brazil coffees shouldn't be overlooked, as their smooth flavor make a great cup.


Improvements in cultivation methods and green coffee processing, however, may not be enough to overcome the fact that the country's non-volcanic soil is less than ideal for growing coffee, as are the lower-than-optimal growing elevations (most of the world's fine Arabica coffees are grown at higher elevations).Brokers always have unroasted green coffees on offer with different options to choose to wholesalers, distributors and green coffee importers in North America and Canada. Brazil's coffees make up the bulk of many blends provided by the biggest brands, and is also the main bean used in many grocery store coffees.Brazil’s Major Coffee-Producing RegionsWith 14 major coffee-producing regions spread over seven states, Brazil’s beans are incredibly diverse.MINAS GERAISThe producing regions within Minas Gerais are:Sul de MinasSul de Minas (also known as South of Minas) has a high altitude, averaging 950m, and a mild annual temperature of around 22 degrees C. It also produces approximately 30% of the country’s coffee, mostly on small farms ranging from 10 to 100 hectares – although that can vary greatly.The main varietals are Catuaí, Mundo Novo, Icatu, Obatã, and Catuaí Rubi.  As for the flavor profile, you’ll typically find that coffee from here is full-bodied with slightly citric notes and fruity aromas.Cerrado de MinasCerrado de Minas happens to be Brazil’s first coffee-producing region to win Designation of Origin (CerradoMineiro) status, giving it similar stature to famous wine-producing regions. 

It’s a large region, comprised of 55 municipalities located between the Alto Paranaiba, TrianguloMineiro, and the  Northwest of Minas Gerais. Its farms range from medium-sized (2-300 hectares) through to large estates.With an altitude of 800-1,300m and well-defined seasons (humid summer and mild to dry winter), this region is well-suited to the production of specialty coffees. You’ll find Mundo Novo and Catuaí here, and Cerrado de Minas coffees tend to have a higher acidity with a medium body and sweetness.Chapada de MinasChapada de Minas has highland regions interspersed with valleys, making it suitable for mechanized production. Catuaí and Mundo Novo are cultivated here.Matas de MinasSituated in the Atlantic Forest, Matas de Minas has an undulating landscape and is characterized by a warm and humid climate. 80% of its producing farms are smaller than 20 hectares.Its known for its increasing production of specialty coffee, which is typically sweet with critic, caramel, or chocolate notes. Catuaí and Mundo Novo are farmed here.


A coffee farm in Cerrado de Minas. Credit: CeCafe

SÃO PAULOSão Paulo is one of Brazil’s historical coffee-growing states. It’s also home to the Port of Santos, Brazil’s main coffee exporting port.Its main producing regions are:MogianaMogiana’s favorable altitudes (900-1,100m), mild temperatures (averaging 20 degrees C), and uneven terrain make for good-quality coffee, with very sweet and balanced cupping profiles. You’ll find both Mundo Novo and Catuaí here.Centro-Oeste de São PauloThis hilly region is comprised of the cities Marilia, Garça, Ourinhos and Avaré. Like Mogiana, the terrain is quite uneven. Most of the farms are small to medium-sized.


A coffee fazenda in Mogiana.  Credit: Ana Paula Scanavachi

ESPÍRITO SANTOEspírito Santo is Brazil’s second biggest coffee-producing state, but its largest producer of Robusta. You’ll still find some specialty-grade coffee here, though.The producing regions within Espírito Santo are:Montanhas do Espírito SantoThis highland area has mild temperatures and altitudes varying between 700 and 1,000m, allowing it to produce satisfactory specialty-grade coffees. The region’s known for its high acidity and fruitiness, and the main cultivated varieties are Mundo Novo and Catuaí.ConilonCapixabaConilon, a Brazilian Robusta, is grown here, usually on small properties and at low altitudes.  


Conilon, a Brazilian robusta. Credit: Credit: CeCafe

BAHIABahia, located in the northeast of Brazil, is a new addition: coffee cultivation only began here in the ‘70s. Yet it’s already gained fame for its quality beans and use of technology. About 75% of its crops are Arabica.There are two producing regions within Bahia:Cerrado and Planalto da BahiaThese are the most high-tech coffee-producing regions in Brazil. From cropping to harvesting, full mechanization is common. This is made possible by the uniform ripening of the cherries, which in turn is induced by irrigation. The result?The highest productivity rate in the country.Yet it’s not just the region’s productivity levels that are remarkable. AntônioRigo de Oliveira from the farm Chaçará São Judas Tadeu in the city of Piatã won Brazil’s Pulped Naturals 2015 Cup of Excellence, scoring 91.22 out of 100. Antônio was also awarded the seal of presidential coffee for obtaining a score higher than 90 points.As for the region’s climate, it has high altitudes and a warm climate, with dry summers and rainy winters. This results in sweet coffees, usually Catuaí, with low acidity and a full body.AtlanticoBaianoLike ConilonCapixaba, this region produces Conilon (Robusta) on small properties at low altitudes.


A coffee fazenda in Bahia. Credit: CeCafe

PARANAYou’ll find farms growing exclusively Arabica in Norte Pioneirodo  Parana. Coffee plantations are dense and have high levels of productivity.


The famous Cafés do Brasil coffee bags.

RONDONIAThis region is exclusively dedicated to growing Conilon (Robusta) coffee. It has a tropical climate, with high temperatures and low altitudes.