HISTORY OF COFFEE IN BRAZIL
It’s hard to imagine the “beginnings” of coffee in Brazil, as the two things have become so synonymous. The first coffee plants were reportedly brought in the relatively early 18th century, spreading from the northern state of Pará in 1727 all the way down to Rio de Janeiro within 50 years. Initially, coffee was grown almost exclusively for domestic consumption by European colonists, but as demand for coffee began to increase in United States and on the European continent in the early-mid 19th century, coffee supplies elsewhere in the world started to decline: Major outbreaks of coffee-leaf rust practically decimated the coffee-growing powerhouses of Java and Ceylon, creating an opening for the burgeoning coffee industry in Central and South America. Brazil’s size and the variety of its landscapes and microclimates showed incredible production potential, and its proximity to the United States made it an obvious and convenient export-import partner for the Western market.
In 1820, Brazil was already producing 30 percent of the world’s coffee supply, but by 1920, it accounted for 80 percent of the global total.
Since the 19th century, the weather in Brazil has been one of the liveliest topics of discussion among traders and brokers, and a major deciding factor in the global market trends and pricing that affect the coffee-commodity market. Incidents of frost and heavy rains have caused coffee yields to wax and wane over the past few decades, but the country is holding strong as one of the two largest coffee producers annually, along with Colombia.
One of the other interesting things Brazil has contributed to coffee worldwide is the number of varieties, mutant-hybrids, and cultivars that have sprung from here, either spontaneously or by laboratory creation. Caturra (a dwarf mutation of Bourbon variety), Maragogype (an oversize Typica derivative), and Mundo Novo (a Bourbon-Typica that is also a parent plant of Catuai, developed by Brazilian agro-scientists) are only a few of the seemingly countless coffee types that originated in Brazil and, now, spread among coffee-growing countries everywhere.