Brazilian Coffee Facts For Coffee and Espresso Makers

Coffee and espresso makers today have so many choices to make. What are the best espresso machines, what grinder should I choose and last but definitely not least what coffee bean should I use? Without a doubt the coffee bean one uses is the most important factor because it provides the aroma, body and flavor of the drink. Since Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee with four distinct varietals of the Arabica bean one should have some understanding of what is available. With this information the cupping (tasting) process can begin and you can then create your own signature blend. The four varietals we will cover are the Bourbon, Caturra, Typica, and Mundo Novo.

1. Bourbon: The Bourbon variety was introduced to Brazil in the late 1800’s and by most opinions is considered winey/fruity with a bright acidity and a sweetness in the aftertaste. This is in particular to the beans that are grown at higher elevations (4000 feet above sea level). A great deal of the Bourbon variety in Brazil is grown at lower altitudes and because of that is less acidic and seems to take on somewhat of a nutty taste.

2. Caturra: The Caturra, named after the town in Brazil where it was found in the 1930’s is a mutation of the Bourbon variety. The Caturra evolved from the Bourbon into a smaller and more compact tree which produces a good quality bean with a high yield. Typically this bean provides a prominent acidity along with citric flavors and does not have the sweet qualities of a Bourbon or Typica. When grown at higher elevations the quality is increased but the production drops off substantially

3. Typica: The Typica and the Bourbon are considered by many to be the first two varietals derived from Coffea Arabica. Other varietals are believed to be a product of these two cultivars. The Typica produces about 30 percent less than the Bourbon but is very high in quality. The taste characteristics are a crisp acidity with citrus along with a sweet aftertaste or finish.

4. Mundo Novo: This is a highly productive plant but does not have the great cup qualities that others above have. It often tends to be on the bitter side lacking any real significant attributes.

The numbers of coffee varietals and origins in today’s market are amazing and this definitely complicates the process of picking a favorite let alone creating a blend of your own. With Brazil being the major producer in the world it is a perfect area to start with in understanding the different coffee bean characteristics and to then start doing some cupping of these different coffees. The first three coffees discussed here can all be found at a very high quality level and can ultimately be the base for any blend. Once the base is chosen the other varietals can be added in to achieve your ultimate blend. Now it is just a matter of cupping and enjoying the process.


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