Brazil: Climate Change and Coffee (Part 1)

East Minas Gerais

● Slow maturation when compared to Brazil in general. Limited definition between rainy and non-rainy seasons due to frequent fog and ocean influence. Periodic rain through the non-rainy seasons. Produces both natural and pulped natural coffees, however due to moisture pulped natural coffees are often in greater volumes than natural coffees. Nutty, chocolate, less citric, darker deeper fruit tones like cassis and plums. Can be grassy and vegetal in flavor profile. Generally can have more focused sugars on the palate, leaning towards dried fruits, plums, and raisins.

Esperito Santo

● Slower maturation when compared to East Minas Gerais coffees. Limited definition between rainy and non-rainy seasons due to frequent fog and ocean influence, periodic rain through the non-rainy seasons. Produces almost entirely pulped natural coffees, however some naturally processed coffees can be found. Nearly all quality farms require covered drying. Typically, brighter more vibrant coffees leaning towards grassy and under-ripe fruits. Can also be nutty, grassy, and vegetal. When taking into consideration the droughts that Brazil has experienced that are largely impacting these coffee growing regions paired with inconsistent rain patterns and generally warmer temperatures I feel that the coffee growing regions flavor profiles are shifting. Essentially, each regions profile is turning into the next warmer climate.

So, where does that put Cerrado? No one knows and as Brazil’s largest growing region for Arabica coffee that’s kind of scary, and interesting. What does this mean for the other regions listed above?


The room where Cup of Excellence testing is held.

A good example can be seen in the 2017 Cup of Excellence for Brazilian Natural Coffees. Remember these are naturally processed coffees and Cerrado is well known for naturally processed coffees and colder wetter climate places are not.

Second place: a coffee from Araponga, a region in East Minas Gerais
Third place: a coffee from Luisburgo, a region in South Minas Gerais
Fourth place: a coffee from Cerrado

And last but not least…

First place, Fazenda Camocim, Esperito Santo.

Does this mean that all natural coffees from Esperito Santo are going to be amazing? Probably not. Does this mean that natural coffees from Cerrado are now going to be subpar? Definitely not. What it does show is that due to rain patterns and warmer weather regions that previously did not have the ability to produce a nice natural coffee now have the potential to do so. Also, producers are more willing to experiment with natural processed coffees because the weather is dryer and allows them to do so.

Temple has historically liked, and purchased, coffees from East Minas for micro-lots and South Minas for larger lots. With the shift in flavor profiles, I believe we will end up purchasing and offering coffees from East Minas and Esperito Santo. Hence, a buying trip to Esperito Santo, not Cerrado.


Alexandre (our exporter, left), Eton (center), and Henrique (coffee legend and producer, right)

Part two of this posting will be focused on my friend and longtime coffee legend Henrique Sloper. I will discuss what makes his farm, Fazenda Camocim in Pedro Azul, Espirito Santo truly one of a kind, and how its uniqueness fosters some of the best coffee produced in Brazil.

References

  1. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, Paula Moura (February 10, 2015). “A Historic Drought Grips Brazil’s Economic Capital”. NPR. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  2. Romero (February 16, 2015). “Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil’s Largest City”. New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  3. C. Stauffer (February 18, 2016). “Drought ends in Brazil’s Sao Paulo but future still uncertain”. Reuters. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  4. Josélia Pegorim (November 2, 2015). “El Niño acentua a seca no rio Doce” (in Portuguese). Climatempo. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  5. Terra (October 7, 2015). “Seca continua no ES e em MG” (in Portuguese). Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  6. Scalzer (May 5, 2016). “Seca faz Espírito Santo decretar situação de emergência”(in Portuguese). Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  7. André Borges (September 23, 2017). “Maiores represas do País enfrentam seca histórica” (in Portuguese). O Estado de S. Paulo. Retrieved October 11, 2017.