By Joanna Hansford, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world, producing around 1,350 million kilos of coffee per year, and is responsible for one-third of the world’s coffee production. Now changes in the local coffee culture are influencing the domestic market, and at the same time due to recent price declines, there may be world shortages in coffee over the next few years.

Typical Brazilian coffee, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Typical Brazilian coffee at 470° F, or Italian roast, photo by Dan Bollinger/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

Brazil not only exports coffee, but imports it too. Last year, over 35,000kg was imported at a cost of US$37.6 million. Coffee expert Emilio Rodrigues, of Casa do Barista in Santa Teresa says, “Brazil is the world’s second largest coffee consumer, after America. Yet, while twenty percent of coffee consumption in the U.S. is specialty/premium coffee, only 5 to 7 percent of Cariocas drink quality coffee in Brazil.”

In recent years, an increase in coffee shops opening in Rio de Janeiro, such as Starbucks and Nespresso, has led to an increase in the awareness of specialty coffee products in Brazil, where traditional brands such as Pilão, Melitta and Café do Ponto have dominated domestic consumption for decades. “Nespresso has transformed coffee into a jewel,” says Rodrigues, “the coffee capsules facilitate hygienic coffee consumption.”

“For new Brazilian customers, coffee shops are one of the main drivers of change in attitude [towards coffee], and expand drinking habits,” says Lucas Marangoni, from research firm Mintel. “This is because generally speaking, coffee shops are where most customers make first contact with specialty coffees.”

“As Brazilians get more demanding about their coffee, the country’s better quality Arabica beans will be increasingly used to service its burgeoning domestic market, rather than merely sent overseas.” adds Jonny Forsyth, a global drinks analyst at Mintel also.

A coffee farm in Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
A coffee farm in Minas Gerais, photo by Knase/Wikipedia Creative Commons License.

Santa Monica, Fazenda Juliana, Fazenda de Minas and Fazenda Caeté in Minas Gerais are some of the many examples of domestic gourmet coffee producers who are attempting to meet such demands. These small specialist coffee farms currently sell high quality coffee served in café chains, such as Kopenhagen.

The improvements in the quality of coffee are explained by Emilio Rodrigues, “All coffee produced in Brazil used to be bought by the Instituto Brasileiro do Café at a set price, regardless of the quality. After the IBC was abolished in 1989, a free market was created, giving rise to the increase in regulations on quality. Farmers started to improve the quality of their coffee and consider the profits gained by investing in the whole process. Selling the equivalent of a 60kg bag of coffee at around R$4 per cup started to make more sense.”

In 2013, Brazil exported 1.6 million tons of coffee, 95 percent of which was green. Instant coffee powder, roasted and ground coffee, coffee extracts and other coffee products make up less than five percent of the country’s coffee exports.

In almost every category, the U.S. is the largest importer of Brazilian coffee products. Therefore, if Brazil’s coffee production continues to decline, causing the global coffee shortage expected by 2014 into 2015, and a larger proportion of higher quality coffee is reserved for the domestic market, the U.S. may be the hardest hit.


  1. I do not claim to be a coffee expert, but I know what I like, and buy whole beans. While I do not roast my own, I do grind it minutes before brewing. At home and while in hotel rooms (I travel with my coffee) I use a “6 cup” Bialetti brand system of steamed coffee.

    I take issue with Nespresso being anywhere near a “jewel”. This is freeze dried coffee, usually flavored, and far from what a good expresso is. That Nespresso is becoming so popular attests to the poor, indiscriminate taste that most Brazilians, and many other nationalities share. Not surprising, however, given the amount of sugar most put in their coffee in Brazil! In regards to coffee hygiene, the boiling hot water used to make real coffee kills bacteria and other organs. The cleanliness of the cup it is served in it the same for Nespresso or real coffee.

    Coffee holds its flavor in the hard casing of the bean. Once it is ground, more surface area is exposed, and the coffee oils start to evaporate, give us that rich flavor if brewed immediately. Much of the flavor is lost within minutes of grinding. Consider what this says about the common coffee sold in Brazil….moido. Much of the flavor is gone before you see it on the grocery store shelves. As Expresso is a fairly new phenomenon in Brazil, and still only in the larger cities, it is normal for the employees to grind 100g or so to be ready when one orders an expresso. Those of us that appreciate a great expresso know to look at the grinder before ordering, to be sure they will grind it at the time.

    I am happy that I can get a good expresso now in Brazil, but have to ask before ordering in restaurants, so that I am not served a Nespresso!

    Two steps forward, a step back…the national way!


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