April - September
Bourbon (including Yellow Bourbon), Catimor, Catuai, Caturra, Maragogype, Typica
Pulped Natural, Natural, Washed (less common)
Medium body, nutty, milk chocolate
MAIN GROWING REGIONS
Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais (including Carmo de Minas, Cerrado Mineiro, and Sul de Minas), Nambuco, Paraná, San Janeiro, São Paulo (including Mogiana),
800 - 1600 Meters
Tropical or subtropical, with a dry winter and warm summer
Population Involved in Coffee
360,000 farmers/permanent farm workers
Typical Farm Size
0.5 hectare–10,000 hectares
Bags Exported Annually
45–60 million bags
Brazil is one of the largest coffee growing countries, and as a result, has a very varied cup profile throughout the country. Typically, Brazil coffees are known for their heavy body, mild sweetness and nutty flavours. However, with more focus on processing and a larger demand for speciality lots, many Brazil coffees are breaking with the norm and showcasing fruity and caramel like notes.
In the Atlantic forest regions, where climates differ tremendously, a variety of tastes can be found. In regions with average annual temperature of 21 degrees C, altitudes equal or higher to 1,000 meters and annual precipitation of 1,000 – 1,500 millimetres, the coffees display medium body, citric acidity and herbal aromas, and an underlying sweetness with subtle flavour of lemon balm and lemongrass. On the other hand, high in the mountains of the Matas de Minas region there are gentler temperatures, 1,000 – 1,200 millimetres of annual precipitation and altitudes of 400 – 1,000 meters.
In order to maintain production at the scale and scope for which Brazil is famous, the national industry has adopted specific and to some degree innovative means to achieve both picking and processing in the most highly efficient and organized manner possible, and the structure of the average farm or estate is designed around utilizing these systems and maximizing the yield potential per hectare.
Strip picking, either mechanically or by hand, is one of the efficiencies that is commonly found on farms of all sizes in Brazil: Instead of the labor-intensive selective picking typical to the rest of the coffee-producing Americas, coffee is picked less discriminately cherry-by-cherry, but rather sorted by ripeness after more general collection. In some instances, pickers use towels, tarps, and/or heavy gloves to simply strip cherries from the branches at the peak of the harvest, collecting them in baskets, barrels, or in sacks and cloth bags. Elsewhere, on much larger farms, coffee plants are arranged in rows more akin to corn fields in Iowa than the forest-like environment of Ethiopia or Colombia: Mechanical pickers will pass through and shake the trees, which loosens the riper cherries and allows them to be collected for sorting and processing.
While these methods raise some criticism from specialty-coffee circles, they are what have allowed for Brazil to maintain its position as a tremendous source for volume, and in many cases also imparts some of what is considered the classic Brazil profile that is richer in chocolate, nut, and pulpy coffee-cherry notes.