Brazil was the largest coffee producer in the world for over 150 years. In this blog article, we at 19grams take you on the exciting journey of the beginning of coffee in Brazil. From turbulent periods in its inception to top-notch coffee, it's been a long road, so buckle up and come explore with us!
The Myth: How Coffee Came to Brazil
Coffee was introduced in 1727 from French Guiana. At that time, Brazil was still ruled by Portugal. The first coffee was grown by Francisco de Melo Palheta in the Para region in the north of the country. According to myths, Palheta traveled to French Guiana under the pretext of a diplomatic mission, but seduced the wife of the governor there. When he then left, the seeds were hidden in a bouquet of flowers from her. When he planted the coffee after his return, it was intended only for domestic consumption, but the success spoke for itself and the seeds were soon passed from one farm to the next.
Commercial coffee production
Commercial coffee production began near the Paraiba River, which borders Rio de Janeiro. This was the perfect growing area for coffee, as the soil is very fertile and also the proximity to Rio de Janeiro provided an ideal base for export. In contrast to smaller farms in Central America, the farms in Brazil were very large from the beginning and were also rubbed by slaves. It was a very aggressive way of farming, as the strongest won the battles for vaguely defined borders of the cultivation areas and only one slave was responsible for 4,000-7,000 plants.
The real coffee boom took place between the years 1820 and 1830. During this period, the interest of other countries increased enormously and the global market became more and more attractive. The "barons" of the coffee industry became even more powerful and, above all, even richer as a result of this boom.
Around 1830, Brazil produced about 30% of the world's coffee, and by 1840 it was already 40%.
Until the middle of the 19th century, the Brazilian coffee industry was heavily dependent on slave labor. Over 1.5 million slaves were brought to Brazil to work on the plantations. When the slave trade was abolished in 1888, Brazil saw coffee production in danger. But against all fears, the harvest continued successfully and the industry continued to enjoy good results in the following years.
The second boom took place from 1880 - 1930. This period, also called the "café com leite" period, played an important role in the stability of the coffee price. The state recognized the value of coffee and in order to stabilize the price, it bought coffee at an inflated price when the market price was low.
In the 1920s, Brazil produced 80% of the world's coffee. This revenue financed much of the infrastructure.
However, this increased production led to a large coffee surplus. This became the country's undoing when it crashed in 1930 during the Great Depression. As a dramatic consequence, the Brazilian government banned 78 million bags of coffee, hoping to strengthen the coffee price. However, the hoped-for success largely failed to materialize.
Modern coffee production
Brazil is one of the most advanced coffee-growing countries in the world. The focus is on profit and production and therefore does not have the best reputation for the highest quality. Most large farms use relatively crude harvesting techniques to harvest as many cherries as possible at one time. However, this can also result in the harvesting of unripe cherries. On the one hand, this is a pity for the cherries that had more potential in them. On the other hand, unripe cherries also have an impact on the quality of the coffee.
19grams and Brazilian Specialty Coffees
At 19grams, we place a lot of importance on our single origins and their uniqueness. The relationship with the farmers is extremely important to us, as is the high quality of the coffee. Since Brazilian coffees have exceptional flavors, we do not want to deprive you of them.
Good Brazilian coffee has a light acidity, a rather heavy body and is topped with sweet chocolaty and nutty flavors.
We recommend our Fazenda Irmãs Pereira Espresso: this lot of the yellow bourbon variety has been roasted into a wonderfully full-bodied espresso. Let the sweet notes of ripe plums, chocolate fudge and blueberries seduce you to sunny Brazil!