Chapadas de Minas, Mogiana, Espirito Santo, Paraná, Bahia.
Coffee might have have been introduced to Brazil much earlier by the Native Americans, but a common story that has been told about how coffee came to the country took place somewhere in the early 18th century.
During this period, coffee in Latin America was a highly guarded economy for the French colonist. Eager to grab a share of this lucrative market, the Portuguese colony in Brazil sent Lt. Col. Francisco de Melo Palheta in an espionage mission to obtain the seeds from French Guiana.
A dashing and well-known womanizer, Francisco de Melo Pahelta cunningly seduced the wife of the Governor of French Guiana, with whom he had a brief affair.
Francisco de Melo Palheta is credited for smuggling coffee seeds from French Guiana to Brazil.
Legend has it that the Governor’s wife secretly gave him coffee plant cuttings hidden in between a bouquet of flowers. The Lieutenant headed home and cultivated the first coffee plant in 1727, in the state of Para, Brazil.
Regardless of the story’s authenticity, the coffee plant adapted extremely well to Brazil’s flat lands, good climate, and water availability that cultivation grew to an intensive scale.
Coffee Production in Brazil
As the demand from America and Europe increased, so did Brazil’s production of coffee. By the 1830s, coffee had become the country’s largest export, making Brazil the world’s largest coffee producer and contributing one-third of all coffee production in the world to this day.
Currently, about 2 million hectares of Brazil are coffee plantations.
Most of the coffee farms in Brazil are large-scale producers. Even so, Brazil has produced some of the world’s truly exceptional coffees and microlots. This shows that specialty coffee does not have to be limited to just small-scale producers.
In the last few years, several regions and microregions have successfully obtained the Protected Geographical Indication status, a form of protection to a region known to have a product whose features are fundamentally due to the particular place. Mantiqueira de Minas, Alta Mogiana, and Norte Pioneiro do Parana are three such regions, while several others are in the process of obtaining the status.
Meanwhile, Cerrado Mineiro was the first Brazillian coffee region to obtain the Designation of Origin status, a form of protection to a region known to have a product whose production phases are all carried out in the region, on top of having features fundamentally due to the particular place.
Generally, Brazillian coffees do not have as distinctive taste as compared to coffees from other regions. However, it is well-known for its low acidity and rich body, making it a good candidate for blending with other coffees.