Coffee in Brazil
James Hayes-Bohanan , Ph.D.
Coffee Maven and Geographer
Bridgewater State College
UPDATED November 12, 2008

In October 2008, I went to a conference a few days early, in order to learn about emerging specialty coffee in the world's largest coffee-producing country. See photos of this trip on Flickr in the Brazil 08 set, which includes both the coffeelands and the other places I visited.
A geograher and his cafezinho
Traditional coffee drying on patio, Pocos de Caldas, Minas Gerais
I have expanded this site's information about coffee shops, coffee roasters, coffee tours, health effects,
and coffee preparation, and have moved that information to other pages. Please explore!

Brazil remains the leading producer of coffee in the world and the leading exporter, so its coffee covers a wide swath of the country. In Minas Gerais, I spent several days at a coffee fazenda on the side of a volcano, well above the 3,000-foot limit that generally separates high-grown, specialty coffee from more ordinary brews. Not only is this fazenda far larger than most of the fincas I have visited in Nicaragua, but the growing and processing are also different in a number of ways.

The photograph above reveals one of the greatest differences: this coffee has been recently harvested, but the husks will not be removed until after the drying is complete. Because this particular site receives more than 2 meters of rainfall per year (80 to 100 inches, compared to 45 in Boston), it not possible to rely solely on the sun. For this reason, the drying patios are augmented by the substantial use of a drying oven. The oven is powered by burning the dried husks of previous batches, sparing the wood, coal, or natural gas that might otherwise be used.

In the background of the same photo are hundreds of coffee trees, all simultaneously displaying the first of what will be four flowering episodes in the annual cycle. These trees are grown in full sun, to maximize the harvest and to minimize the effects of fungi.

Another difference is the manner of the harvest. Rather than pick individual beans, as specialty coffee produers in Nicaragua do, Brazilian farmers are more likely to harvest the entire crop at once, agitating or pulling the fruit from the branches and allowing them to fall into pans that are placed beneath the trees. This results in a mix of degrees of maturity in one harvest, but this is considered acceptable, given the much lower labor costs.

Coffee consumption in Brazil is nearly constant, in the form of tiny cafezinhos, such as the one I am shown enjoying at the top of this page. Each time I visit Brazil, however, I find that coffee-shop culture is evolving very rapidly, as it is globally. The artistry in this cup of cappuccino is a fine example, with a single roasted bean emphasizing the coffee-bean pattern of the cream, caramel, and cocoa on top of my friend Guil's drink.

Cappuccino -- coffee bean

At right, my friends Guil and Ayr await their cappuccinos at Havanna, a trendy chain of coffee shops from Argentina. (All of my Brazilian friends will be happy if I take this opportunity to remind my readers that Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina, while Brasilia is the capital of Brazil -- two facts that seem to be missing in U.S. geographic education.
Ayr and Guilherme waiting for a nice cappuccino

Thank the farmers!
\Dr. James Hayes-Bohanan
Department of Geography -- Bridgewater State College
Bridgewater, Massachusetts USA / EEUU / EUA
Institute for Coffee Studies, Vanderbilt University
jhayesboh @