In Brazil, we have a different word for “breakfast.” In Portuguese, we call this meal “café da manhã” (literally, “coffee of the morning”). This is just one of the signs that show that coffee is in our language and is part of our culture. What probably few people know is that one out of every three cups of coffee drank in the world comes from Brazil.
Our production volume reflects our diversity. Brazilian coffee is grown in practically the whole national territory. This means types of land with different climates, altitudes, temperatures, and soil acidity, as well as different production methods. This is all reflected in our coffee’s flavors and aromas.
When tasting a Brazilian specialty coffee, try to find floral, citrus, caramel, dried fruit, chocolate, and almond notes. Different patterns of acidity, sweetness, and bitterness. All this comes not only from our 12 Geographical Indications but also from the combination of different species.
Coffee is part of the botanical family Rubiaceae, which has about 500 genera and more than 6 thousand species. Most of them are tropical trees and shrubs, growing in the lower areas of forests. Other members of the family are gardenias and plants producing quinine and other useful substances, but the genus Coffea is its most important member in economic terms.
All species of this genus are woody and can grow as small shrubs and even large trees over 10 meters high, with yellow, dark green, bronze, or purple leaves. Economically, the two most important species are Coffea arabica (Arabica coffee)—which accounts for more than 60% of world production—and Coffea canephora (Robusta coffee).
It is usual to find crossbreeding between Arabica and Robusta to provide more resistance to diseases or to change the drink’s sensory aspect. Two other species grown on a smaller scale are Coffea liberica (Liberica coffee) and Coffea dewevrei (Excelsa coffee).
First described in 1753, Arabica coffee unfolds in varieties such as Caturra, Mundo Novo, Bourbon, or Catuaí in Brazil. The plant is a large bush with oval dark green leaves. The fruits are oval and ripen over a period of seven to nine months. They usually contain two flat seeds, which become coffee beans.
Coffea canephora (Robusta coffee)
The term “Robusta” is actually the name of a wild type of this species. It is a bulky shrub or small tree up to 10 meters high but with a shallow root. The fruits are rounded and take up to 11 months to ripen; their seeds are oval-shaped and smaller than those of Arabica coffee. In Brazil, it is also known as Conillon
Coffea liberica (Liberica coffee)
Coffea liberica grows on a large, strong tree, reaching up to 18 meters in height, with large, leathery leaves. Its fruits and seeds (beans) are also large. It is grown in Malaysia and West Africa but only sold in small amounts, as there is little demand for its flavor aspects.