Cup Characteristics: Flavours of chocolate, nuts and vanilla
Brazil is not only the world's largest coffee producer, it is also the most complex. It turns out everything from mass produced coffees that rank among the world's cheapest to elegant coffees prized as the world's finest origins for espresso brewing.
In Brazil, fruit is removed from the bean using four different processing methods, and it is not uncommon for all four methods to be used on the same farm during the same harvest. One thing Brazil coffee is not is high-grown. Growing elevations in Brazil range from about 2,000 feet to 4,000 feet, far short of the 5,000-plus elevations common for fine coffees produced in Central America, Colombia, and East Africa. Lower growing altitudes means that Brazil coffees are relatively low in acidity. At best they tend to be round, sweet and well-nuanced rather than big and bright.
The most traditional Brazil coffee, and the kind most likely to be seen in speciality stores, has been dried inside the fruit (dry-processed) so that some of the sweetness of the fruit carries into the cup. It also frequently comes from trees of the traditional Latin-American variety of arabica called bourbon. The best of these coffees are traded as Santos 2, or, if the coffee comes exclusively from trees of the bourbon variety, Bourbon Santos 2. Santos is a market name referring to the port through which these coffees are traditionally shipped, and 2 is the highest grade. On speciality coffee menus the 2 is usually dropped, so you will see the coffee simply described as Brazil Bourbon Santos or Brazil Santos.
When coffee is dried inside the fruit, as most classic Brazil coffees are, lots of things can go wrong. The seed or bean inside the fruit is held hostage, as it were, to the general health and soundness of the fruit surrounding it.
Three main growing areas provide most of the top-end Brazil coffees. The oldest, Mogiana, lies along the border of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais states north of Sao Paulo, and is famous for its deep, richly red soil and its sweet, full, rounded coffees. The rugged, rolling hills of Sul Minas, in the southern part of Minas Gerais state northeast of Sao Paulo, is the heart of Brazil coffee country and home of two of the largest and best-known fazendas, Ipanema and Monte Alegre. The Cerrado, a high, semi-arid plateau surrounding the city of Patrocinio, midway between Sao Paulo and Brasilia, is a newer growing area. It is the least picturesque of the three regions with its new towns and high plains, but arguably the most promising in terms of coffee quality, since its dependably clear, dry weather during harvest promotes a more thorough, even drying of the coffee fruit.
- This review was taken from Coffee Reviewer (http://www.coffeereview.com/reference.cfm?ID=62)