Updated: Oct 18
How a secret mission and seduction led to a worldwide takeover of the coffee industry. Present-day Brazil supplies over 25% of the world's beans.
Our story begins in 1727 with Sergeant Major Francisco de Melho Palheta arriving in Cayenne to settle a land dispute between French and Dutch Guiana. Having his own mission in mind, he sets his eyes on the governor's wife Madame D'Orvilliers.
Legend has it that whilst in Cayenne Pahetta's mission of seduction was successful. The governor's wife was so smitten with him that she smuggled him a farewell bouquet concealing coffee seeds and seedlings inside. Upon returning to his home "Para" seeds were distributed to the farmers and an industry of innovation began.
A Leader in Production is Born
First a minor crop, Brazil began gaining traction slowly in the 1800s while on its way to domination of the market. In 1800 they exported only 1720 lbs of coffee. By mid-century crop cultivation flourished and in 1820 12,896,000 lbs were exported. That number continued to rise again in 1840 with an astonishing 137,300,00 lbs and by the end of the century, over a billion lbs were leaving the country annually.
As the demand for the crop continued to climb, the once fertile soils became exhausted. The production was then moved south into the Sao Paulo region. With the growth of coffee in the interior of the region, new rail lines were extended throughout the area. Newly built rails established coffee estates and the new 19th-century coffee barons were much more politically involved than previous owners. The spike of the coffee industry in the Sao Paulo state corresponded with the centralization of power in the center east.
Brazil's Coffee Processing Techniques
There are 3 methods Brazil uses while processing their coffee crops. the Dry Process or Natural Process, the Wet Process, and the Pulped Natural Process. Each process is unique in the end cupping flavor.
A majority of beans in Brazil are still processed using the dry process method due to Brazil being one of the only climates in the world able to do so properly. The dry process classifies those that are left inside the cherry to dry, staying in contact with the sweet fruit. This process is known to be the most complex because of the long drying period, these beans will produce a sweet complex flavor.
The pulped natural process removes the outer skin layer of the cherry leaving the fruity layer exposed. The cherry is then sundried for an extended period of time giving an end result of nutty, pulpy fruit with a creamy chocolate body. You will find this method somewhere in between a dry process & a wet process. This process is very similar to a honey process.
Offering a cleaner and brighter fruit flavor to the Brazil bean and completed in a much smaller percentage than the other methods you will find the wet processing. During this process, the layers surrounding the bean are removed, and the bean is then fermented in water, followed by being washed and dried. This method allows the fermentation to be easily controlled leading to an outcome of more consistent flavor experiences and cupping notes.
Brazilian Coffee has Shaped the Industry
Today Brazil produces over 25% of the world's coffee and 8% of the world's Arabica is produced in Brazil as well. A history that begins in smuggled lore taking one century to explode into a "dynasty". In 1998 the Brazilian Speciality Coffee Association (BSCA) formed "The Cup of Excellence" and a coffee quality competition was organized. For over 150 years Brazil has been the highest producer of coffee beans shaping the region's modernization and economic development. This magic bean continues to be one of the main sources of monetary income for the region.