What Makes Brazilian Coffee Different Than American?

For over one hundred years, Brazil has been the world’s leading producer of coffee beans; however, from the beginning, Brazilian coffee has been about quantity and scale rather than about producing quality. Unfortunately, Brazilian coffee gets a bad rap as production has offered low altitudes, no shade, a lack of biodiversity, and non-selective picking.

Brazilians, unlike Americans, are not interested in complex coffee drinks; they prefer to drink their brew as pure as possible. So most Brazilian households consume cafezinho, a filtered cup of black coffee served with plenty of sugar, and it is boiling hot. It’s brazil’s signature coffee beverage.

Despite some of the drawbacks of Brazilian coffee production, you can still get an excellent cup of local coffee. Let’s discuss what makes Brazilian coffee unique and what beans they like to use in more detail.

The History Of Brazilian Coffee

The history of Brazilian coffee began in 1727 when it arrived in Brazil from French Guiana by the Portuguese Lieutenant, Col Francisco del Melo Palheta. He seduced the Guianese’s governor’s wife to get her to help him smuggle the seeds across the border – his charms worked.

At the start, Brazilian coffee was drunk mainly by European colonists locally. However, as the demand for the drink increased in Europe and the US, exports began ramping up.

This growing demand resulted in 1802 being an important year for exports, and by 1820, Brazil was producing 80% of the world’s coffee. As other nations gradually recovered, that percentage decreased, but the nation never lost its place as the world’s largest grower.

In the early 1990s, the country’s government deregulated numerous horticultural industries, including coffee. This offered farmers more freedom to experiment, find their own buyers, and sell as they preferred – this made it possible to buy single-origin coffees from the country.

In addition, deregulation improved innovation, causing Brazil to become the global leader in coffee research, introducing new processing techniques.

When the specialty coffee culture began gaining momentum in the early 2000s, most of the emphasis was on producing unique flavor notes and acidity.

However, as Brazilian coffee is rarely grown at high altitudes, it’s been rare to come across single-origin coffee for manual brewing. Coffee production is what it is today due to the removal of government restrictions.

However, as the country has made advancements in the coffee industry, there are exceptions to the rule. The nation’s coffee was always a cheaper ingredient for espresso or a filler for plain supermarket blends.

Brazil has become a more affluent nation in recent years. The improved technological know-how, coupled with the fact that it’s the 6th largest population globally and has a well-established domestic coffee culture, should give rise to a new generation of quality-focused and innovative Brazilian coffee farmers.

What Is Unique About Brazilian Coffee?

Brazil is where most people source beans for espresso blends; however, this country also produces some excellent specialty-grade coffees.

Brazil’s single origins are often high-quality, distinctive, and powerful with caramel and chocolate notes. Their coffees also have low acidity and are full-bodied.

The low acidity can be underwhelming at first, which can make you underestimate the quality of the coffee. However, once you take a second sip, you’ll discover that the flavor profile will pleasantly surprise you.

This coffee has produced the Italian espresso culture and most modern coffees.

When making espresso, all the flavors are intensified to create a sweet and nutty Brazilian that tastes boring as filtered coffee but performs well as espresso.

There are now fourteen primary coffee-producing locations, so the beans are diverse. With so many coffee-producing regions, you’ll find a variety of traditional and experimental beans being cultivated.

The farms range from small family-owned plantations of under 10 hectares to big estates of over 2000 hectares.

Most Brazilian coffee seeds are pulped natural (semi-washed). This natural process involves drying the beans as they are picked without removing the mucilage.

This is essential as natural processing can damage the beans but add a lot of body, smoothness, sweetness, and complexity to the profile.

Why Is Brazilian Coffee So Good?

Brazil has a complex and highly-detailed classification system where the beans are ranked based on color, cupping, and screen sorting.

This system leads the beans to be rated from best to worst. This allows us, the consumer, to have more information at our fingertips to determine a coffee’s quality and profile.

Brazil offers some of the finest Arabica beans globally, producing a clear, sweet, low-acidity, and medium-bodied coffee.

Generally, the best beans are reserved for international export, while locals drink coffee made from lower-quality beans left behind. With that said, you can still get an excellent cup of coffee locally.

How Brazilians Drink Coffee

Coffee is at the heart of Brazilian identity and culture, so it’s hardly surprising that a minimum of 98% of Brazilian households drink it, and cafezinho is the national favorite.

This drink is a filtered, strong black cup of coffee served hot with lots of sugar. Despite being small, it’s a strong drink, and people drink it regularly throughout the day.

Coffee in Brazil is used to welcome visitors, show hospitality, and even begin business transactions, and cafezinho has been Brazil’s coffee beverage of choice. So expect to see this drink everywhere you go if you visit the country.

While Americans like complicated coffee drinks, most Brazilians like their coffee as pure as possible, without any fancy ingredients getting in the way of that perfect small cup.

Breakfast is called café de manha in Portuguese, literally translating to “morning coffee” in English. Adults love a pintado, coffee with a drop of milk, while children drink milky coffee with breakfast.

How Do You Make Brazilian-Style Coffee?

You will need the following to make Brazilian-style coffee or cafezinho:

  • 4 cups of filtered water
  • 4 heaped teaspoons of finely ground, high-quality coffee
  • 3-4 teaspoons of sugar
  • Milk or cream to taste


  • A serving glass
  • Pot for boiling water
  • Paper or cloth filter

Step 1. Start by adding water and sugar to the pot and place over high heat.

Step 2. Once the water has been boiled, take it off the heat as soon as possible, add your coffee grounds and stir for 15 to 20 seconds.

Step 3. Pour your hot coffee through your filter and add cream or milk if you wish. Serve immediately.

Is Brazilian Coffee Light Or Dark?

Brazilian coffee beans are versatile, and roasters like using different roasting methods for different beans. It helps to pay attention while roasting and not rush the process. Brazilian beans can have a low bean density, making roasting a little trickier than other coffees.

Lightly roasted coffee brings out the natural flavors of the beans. It will have low acidity, chocolate, and nutty notes, and easy drinking.

While darkly roasted coffee can be flat with ashy undertones. As Brazilian beans are softer, it’s best to apply a lower heat over more extended periods to make a balanced roast, rather than high heat too quickly, which can scorch the beans. A medium roast is considered the best to use.

Is Brazilian Coffee Arabica Or Robusta?

Several coffee genus species are grown for their beans in Brazil, but Arabica and Robusta account for almost all coffee production.

Arabica is the dominant bean in Brazil, making about 70% of the output. Arabica production in Brazil is located in the coffee-producing states led by Minas Gerais. It is there that Arabica is produced almost exclusively.

Robusta coffee mainly grows in the southeast in the smaller state of Espirito Santo, and 80% of the coffee from that region is Robusta.

Brewing Methods For Brazilian Coffee

The best Brazilian coffee beans can create a beverage with toasted nut and sweet chocolate notes, low acidity, and a full body.

There are numerous ways to enjoy this coffee to the fullest. Whichever brewing method you use, make sure that the grounds are the ideal coarseness or fineness. Consider the following methods:


Nearly every traditional espresso contains Brazilian beans as they are made purely for espresso. The full, chocolatey, sweet character makes it ideal for espresso.

Cold Brew

Brazilian coffee makes for excellent cold brews because it makes excellent espresso. In addition, a cold brew should be smooth, and refreshing and Brazilian coffee excels in making smooth and refreshing cold brews.

French Press

The French Press brews coffee with a full and heavy body. As this method is a full immersion brewer, the grounds sit in the water for up to five minutes.

High acidic coffee would not work well with the French Press as it can taste muddy and sour. However, this is a method that works better with low acidity coffees.

Final Thoughts

Cafezinho is Brazil’s signature coffee beverage. While it’s normal to be offered a coffee beverage at a business transaction or interview in America, in Brazil, offering a coffee is how people show hospitality or begin a conversation. Therefore, it is common to see cafezinho everywhere you go in Brazil.

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