Coffee In South America
This region is in a league of its own. Coffee in South America is home to the largest coffee producing country in the world – Brazil. The landscape and growing conditions found in South America are perfect for growing high-quality coffee. Some of the best-produced coffees today come from South America.
This article discusses some of the coffee producing countries across Southern America. There are many producing countries however Brazil and Colombia dominate the coffee market. Colombia is the larger producer of washed Arabica coffee beans. This Country has a well-managed coffee industry which gives back to the community through research and quality coffee development. Brazil, however, has raw coffee-producing power, affecting stock market prices in supply and demand.
There are a few other Counties in South America that produce beautiful coffee, such as Ecuador and Bolivia. In the past, these countries were more interested in producing quantity, rather than quality, regarding coffee. However, with the demand for quality coffee, the market in these countries have had to adapt. More investment is taking place in quality coffee production, adding to different flavours being seen on the market.
South America is also home to the Andes mountain range. This is the longest continental mountain range on earth. It passes through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. This mountain range is responsible for the beautiful climate that makes it possible to grow high-quality coffee. This terrain encompasses glaciers, volcanoes, grassland, deserts, lakes and forests. It has the ability to grow high-quality coffee – all year round.
Coffee In South America – Brazil
Brazil is the largest coffee economy in the South Americas. It is one of the worlds largest coffee economies. Coffee plantations cover over 29,000 square kilometres of the country. Brazil is noted to have approximately 6 billion coffee trees. 74% Arabica and 26% Robusta make up the coffee beans sold in Brazil.
It has a perfect landscape to make high-end quality coffee. It has volcanic soil that is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. This gives the coffee a unique flavour as well as give it an advantage in growth in comparison to other regions across the world. Most coffee plantations are harvested in the winter months – between May to July.
Brazil – Machinery and Unique Landscapes
In general, the landscape is reasonably flat. This allows for mechanical pickers and machinery to take over from the general coffee picker. This increases product yield dramatically. The advantages to this are that farms up to the size of roughly 8000 hectares, can be operated by as little as 3 to 4 people.
This massively cuts the labour cost, which in essence will drive the coffees’ cost per kilo down. This gives brazil the label of being a commercial coffee powerhouse. Its blends are extremely cheap when compared to other regions. One of the downfalls would be the quality of coffee being harvested.
The machinery used means that it would be impossible to select only ripe red coffee cherries. By broad picking all the coffee cherries, some of the un-ripened cherries get added to the roast. This can change the acidic levels of the coffee, leaving it tasting bitter. Sorting machinery is used to counter this problem, however, hand-picked cherries will always taste superior.
Brazil and the Economy
Because it is an economic powerhouse, Brazil dictates the price of coffee based on its yearly production. The New York commodity market was developed in 1989 to provide a minimum price for a coffee producer. The price set was blown out of the water and is now completely dependent on supply and demand – where Brazil dominates.
If Brazil overproduces coffee in a financial year due to unique circumstances. The coffee price on the stock market will fall due to the raw amount of coffee available. It can also work the other way – if Brazil underproduces coffee due to weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances (think of the recent amazon fire, that took place across almost the entire country), the price will rise due to the lack of supply.
It is scary to think that a single country can dominate a commodity’s price– in this case, coffee. This is the raw producing power of Brazil.
Coffee In South America – Colombia
This must be one of the worlds most famous coffee-producing coffees. All of us, at some time or another, have heard of coffee from Colombia. This may be because of the clever marketing strategies used or, the sheer volume of coffee drinkers from Colombia.
It is believed that since the 1700s coffee has been grown throughout the country, though it wasn’t until the 20th century that coffee made its impact on the country’s economy. Coffee in Colombia contributes to 50% of the country’s total exports.
Colombia recognized the importance of coffee in the country and established the FNC (Federación Nacional de Cafeteros). The FNC is a non-profit organisation run by farmers or coffee producers to provide technical advice, research, and marketing to other farmers across the county. This aids in the development of good quality coffee as well as increasing the total amount of coffee produced.
Coffee Marketing In Colombia
In 1958 the FNC created “Juan Valdez” – A moustached mule-riding coffee farmer that appeared in a number of advertising campaigns and on coffee bags. In essence, Juan Valdez became the face of coffee in Colombia. This endearing, warm faced gentleman created a loyal brand that coffee drinkers bought into. This strong marketing campaign pushed the commodity of coffee to a new level in Colombia.
Interestingly, Colombia is now the third-largest coffee-producing coffee country behind Vietnam and brazil. Colombia is the leading exporter of Arabic coffee.
Coffee Profiles in Colombia
Today Colombia has a large established coffee industry, spread over 17 regions. These regions offer huge coffee accent variations ranging from, amazing quality to rather ordinary, in terms of coffee. There are also huge variations in flavour profiles with the different climates and landscapes across the country.
Some Colombian coffees can be heavy in body, with favours of chocolate and nut. Other coffees can be clean and complex with fruity accents and hints of sweetness and citrus.
Harvests in Colombia take place twice a year. The main harvest will be harvested between November – February, then the ‘fly crop’ will be harvested. A fly crop is a crop that is much smaller than the main crop but is harvested later during the year. The fly crop or ‘mitaca’ is harvested between march – august depending on the ripeness of the coffee.
Coffee origins: South America – Brewing
The coffee from Brazil tends to be more suited for espresso-based beverages due to the fantastic body and balance the blends offer. The Brazil coffee blends also work very well with milk, this is due to its standard coffee taste.
Colombian coffees are versatile with their coffee offering, this is due to the higher levels of acidity which pushes them more towards filter methods of brewing. Drinking espresso is also beneficial when it comes to Colombian coffee blends as you will be able to distinguish the fruity accents the region has to offer.
A plus side to these two origins is their price factor as they produce a lot of coffee. This means they offer you quality coffee at a reasonable price. Be sure to try coffee from South America, and determine your own personal favourite.
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