Here's something you don't see everyday:
A group of kids, about 10-12 years old are huddled together, chatting away in the school playground. You walk over and see that they're happily sipping some kind of milky drink.
You ask them what it is they're drinking, and they reply,
Well, bet you didn't expect that, especially not with children in Singapore. But guess what, drinking coffee is actually quite commonplace in this other country, which is one of the largest coffee producers in the world. Do you know which?
If you guessed Brazil, then you're absolutely correct.
Drinking coffee from a very young age seems to be a cultural phenomenon in Brazil, whereby Brazilian children are introduced to caffeine from as early as nursery school! That's so mind-boggling yet fascinating to me.
Today, we explore how Brazil came to be such a major player in the world heritage of coffee.
The story goes, that the first person to ever plant coffee in Brazil was this guy named Francisco de Melo Palheta. According to coffee legend, he visited Guiana in 1727 (apparently on a diplomatic mission) and got interested with these curious beans. Subsequently, he concocted the most "historical Chinese drama plot" you can ever imagine, except this time the guy seduces the girl.
Yup, the dude seduced the governor's wife who, as a parting gesture, gifted Francisco with a bouquet of flowers, secretly hiding some precious coffee beans amidst the floral arrangement.
And thus, coffee arrived in Brazil.
If that's not enough to intrigue you about Brazil, here's another unexpected fact. We often think that Robusta beans are grown in regions across Asia. Did you know that Brazil produces BOTH Arabica and also Robusta beans too?
In my humble opinion, Robusta beans have historically received a bad rap, commonly thought of as having "lesser quality". But hey, you just broke the heart of trillions of cute little Robusta coffee beans okay? Indeed, there are premium quality Robusta beans which are equally as high grade as Arabica beans. Case in point, the traditional coffee served at our Generation Coffee stall uses premium quality Robusta beans sourced from Vietnam.
Arabica and Robusta. They're like cousins. Same family, different species.
Image copied from www.compoundchem.com, Andy Brunning/Compound Interest 2018
And Brazil produces both.
Speaking of quality, high quality Brazilian coffee (or basically coffee from anywhere in the world, really) is often traceable to a specific farm (fazenda) in Brazil. Especially if the coffee is produced in micro-lots, traceable down to the selective harvesting and naturally processing.
As always at Generation Coffee, we pride ourselves with bringing you only the most delectable coffees from the best farms all over the world. And our Brazilian single origins, are not different.
At the time of writing, we are currently offering Brazil Edio Miranda, a delicious coffee from the Aropongas municipality, in the region of Sul de Minas. What's amazing is since 1947, the harvest has been hand-picked and hand-sorted, and eventually cupped by Edio himself. You can be sure that the coffee profile of every batch is absolutely on point.
Similarly in the past, Generation has carried another exquisite Brazilian single origin - Brazil Micro Carmo. As the name suggests, this is a micro-lot coffee grown in the town of Carmo, part of the sub-region Serra da Mantiqueira.
A lot has happened for coffee to have been smuggled into Brazil centuries ago, for it now to be so readily available worldwide, and for Generation to be able to serve it to you.
From it being an insignificant crop, to the Industrial Revolution, to the exploitation of slaves to the eventual abortion of slave trade, coffee has had its roots in human history. Up until the 1900s, Brazilian coffee went from being unimportant to being a ferociously traded commodity (even affecting world economies and politics even), from an unknown bean to an everyday staple.
By the 1920s, 80% of global coffee production was already concentrated in Brazil. Today, despite having so many coffee plantations in so many countries around the world, Brazil remains a major coffee powerhouse, producing a whopping one-third of coffee on earth.
To put that into perspective, more than 70 countries produce coffee. Brazil, being ONE country, contributes 30% of the global coffee harvest.
Needless to say, Brazil's impact on the heritage of coffee is profound, and still remains a legacy. World coffee consumption statistics show that around 30-40% of the global population consume coffee every single day. And with more people coming to know of this delicious beverage (including Brazilian children), the significance of Brazil in this narrative will only compound.
It's simply astounding. What started out as a parting gift from a lover, culminated into a worldwide infatuation by coffee lovers.
Hoffmann, J., 2018. The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing - Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed. Firefly Books, pp.198-203.