Minas Gerais Brazil Coffee
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 famous 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. BAHIA Bahia 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 SANTO Espirito 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 BRANDS Being 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 Regions With 14 major coffee-producing regions spread over seven states, Brazil’s beans are incredibly diverse. MINAS GERAIS The 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 Minas Cerrado 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 Minas Chapada de Minas has highland regions interspersed with valleys, making it suitable for mechanized production.
Catuaí and Mundo Novo are cultivated here. Matas de Minas Situated 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. brazil4 brazil5
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 SANTO Espírito 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. Conilon Capixaba Conilon, a Brazilian Robusta, is grown here, usually on small properties and at low altitudes.
Conilon, a Brazilian robusta. Credit: Credit: CeCafe
BAHIA Bahia, 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 Bahia These 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
PARANA You’ll find farms growing exclusively Arabica in Norte Pioneirodo Parana. Coffee plantations are dense and have high levels of productivity.