There is no doubt that Brazil is the most important coffee nation on Earth. They say it themselves quite often! It is not only the biggest producer, (about 60 million bags per annum), it is also the second – and maybe now the first – largest consuming country.
Our 2019 trip took us to Minas Gerais, which means general mines, as this area was originally rich in gold, iron ore and other minerals, and still supports a huge mining industry. Minas Gerais accounts for about 40% of Brazil’s total production, which, if it were a country in its own right would make it the third biggest producer in the world! Not only that but it now produces some of Brazil’s best speciality coffees, and in ever increasing quantities.
We found similar problems at most farms and cooperatives that we visited, and the general consensus was that it will be difficult to match last year’s exported volumes, and that farmers will have to work really hard to achieve high quality. I personally have never witnessed such conditions with the resulting mix of black red and green cherries which are there not because of bad agronomy or management but because of the weather conditions.
On a more optimistic note everyone in our party was impressed by the wide range of innovation, research and experimentation that we saw throughout the trip. At Fazenda Esperanca for example we saw hands on processing and drying on patios and African beds to enable maximum quality and quantity of coffee processed from the difficult harvesting previously mentioned.
Monte Alegre, a well known heavyweight of the Brazilian coffee industry, and founder member of BSCA are not complacent at all despite their successes and are conducting their own varietal research near to Alfenas where completely new varietals for the region are being monitored for improved quality and yield.
Many of the producers are also supported by their cooperatives, such as Minasul, which is arguably the most professional and proactive cooperative that I have ever visited.
My first trip to Brazil was in 2005, and so much has changed since then, including all of the innovation mentioned above. Most notably, however, is that speciality coffee, hardly mentioned in 2005, is now uppermost in everyone’s mind, and almost seems to be mainstream, although clearly it still represents a small part of the market. But its influence now stretching far and wide.
Brazil is not only the coffee nation, it is an energised coffee nation!
Huge thanks to all of the people and organisations who made this such a special trip:
Bruno de Souza, Facenda Esperanca and Academia do Café; www.academiadocafe.com.br
Bruno Antonio Henriques Franco, Facenda Inhame;
Gabriel Vitor Pereira, Cooperativa Agropecuaria de Campos Altos (CAPECA);
Helio de Almeida Leite, Monte Alegre Coffees; www.montealegrecoffees.com
Artur Ornelas, Minasul
Guilherme Foresti, Fazenda do Lobo; www.cafesdobrasilclum.com.br
Jose and Christina de Rezende Pinto Neto, Fazenda Pedra Negra; www.fezendapedranegra.com.br
Luiz Paulo Dias Pereira Filho, Carmo Coffees; www.carmocoffees.com.br
Natalia Araujo, Carmo Coffees;
And all of the trippers who contributed so much to the experience. Thank you all.
David Veal June 2019