While in Brazil it became obvious to me that this country, not at all complacent in being the largest coffee producing country for 150 years, Brazil is striving to produce better and better coffee. Brazilian coffee is known for being sweet and full bodied, often with tasting notes of chocolate and caramel as well as nut.
The terroir in Brazil, not least its altitude, can dictate the coffees flavour profile. Brazil coffee farms top out at about 1200masl.
There are two main areas of experimentation. The first is by exploring the growth of different coffee varietals. Many of the farms we visited had plots dedicated to growing tens of different coffee varietals which are carefully picked, prepared and tasted at the end of the growing season. It must be said that I preferred the tried and tested varietals that the farmers have been growing for many years. The two favorites were Bourbon and Catuai. On some of the farms visited one was sweeter and fuller bodied than the other. Catuai often showed a more delicate acidity and greater clarity while sometimes the Bourbon lot would have greater depth and a more pleasing mouthfeel.
Another way that the producers are trying to elevate the cup score
is through controlled fermentation. This can be anything from adding wine yeasts to isolating the natural yeasts from the best tasting farms or lots
and propagating this strain of yeasts which can then be lightly sprayed over subsequent years coffee cherry as they are laid out to ferment on the patios.
People also experiment with the washed process. This is not typical in this origin and arguably Brazilian coffees do not lend them selves as nicely to the washed process. With Brazil's relatively low maximum altitude (for specialty coffee) the cherries don't have the luxury of maturing as slowly as they may in Kenya or Colombia, for example, where coffee can grow up to and beyond 2000masl. Often as well as having a lower altitude in Brazil most coffees are harvest by mechanical means. This often means you lack the the same level of cherry selection and have more under ripe cherries in a given lot. The natural process (where coffees is fermented on patios with the fruit intact on the seeds) often brings greater sweetness and brings depth to the acidity that could help to obscure or disguise any green or olive-like flavour from under-ripe cherry.
Adolfo Henrique Vieira Ferreira. Owner operator of Fazenda Passeio.
I will watch to see what happens as Brazil produces more and more varied flavour profiles but for now I can say that what I enjoy the most are sweet and syrupy but clean coffees with notes of caramel or chocolate and ripe fruit flavours! The lot we came back with (and that we have exclusively! we bought the whole lot!) Is natural processed, yellow Catuai from Passeio. A very good Brazil.
Todd Johnson at San Coffee warehouse where the coffee is exported.
Adolfo and his neighbour, who was the first president of the Brazil Specialty Coffee Association.