The world's fifth largest economy also happens to be the world's largest producer of coffee. Brazil, the only Portuguese speaking country in the America's, is a country that is varied in terrain, climate and population.
Although the landscape lends itself to distinct and cultivated cups, Brazil currently yields a high volume of low-grade Arabica and Robusta beans, ideal for mass-produced coffees found in grocery stores around the world. Chances are there is some Brazilian coffee in your canned coffee at home.
Brazil's varietals include Bourbon, Typica, Caturra and Mundo Novo all derivatives of the Arabica. Common characteristics include but are not limited to; chocolate notes, nuttiness and mild-acidity.
These mass-produced beans are grown in flat, non-volcanic, low-altitude soil making it hard to produce outstanding cups.
But Brazil is not without their premium grade beans. When they're good, they make an espresso as sweet as Red Roosters Black and White Mud dessert.
Brazil's coffee farmers process their coffees in one of three ways:
Dry-processed (Naturally processed) coffees are dried while they are still in the cherry. Prior to drying, only cherries that float will be removed. Since the coffees are dried in contact with the sweet mucilage, the coffee will be heavy in body, sweet, smooth, and complex. This coffee is also one of the most complex to deal with do to the long drying times and possibility of fermentation. However, since dry-processed coffees are more difficult, Brazil has invested significant time and money to developing new drying systems and drying practices to prevent fermentation.
Wet-processing coffees is a relatively new method of removing the four layers surrounding the coffee bean. This process results in a coffee that is cleaner, brighter, and fruitier. Wet processing is done in a relatively small proportion to dry processing in Brazil, but offers another cleaner and brighter dimension to Brazilian coffees.
Pulped Natural: The pulped natural method consists of pulping a coffee, but emitting the fermentation stage to remove the silver skin. This results in a beverage that has characteristics of both a dry- and wet-processed coffee. It is often sweeter than wet-processed coffees, has some of the body of a dry-processed coffee, but also retains some of the acidity of a wet-processed coffee. This type of processing can only occur in countries where the humidity is low and the coffee covered in the sweet mucilage can be dried rapidly without fermenting. Brazil has made this method famous and produces some of the best pulped-natural coffees in the world. All twenty winners of the Gourmet Cup competition in Brazil in 2000 processed their coffees using the pulped natural method.
This is a fascinating country with a unique culture, people and a national drink that I revere highly, coffee. It has all the makings for an adventure holiday!
Until next week, breathe well and be well!
More information on Brazilian Coffee Production can be found here.