Love Letter to Brazil
Brazilian specialty coffee, three words that might fill some people with a memory of flavours you would rather forget, sure we have all cupped some intensely boring Brazilian coffees. We all have some that spring to mind too but should we ignore the world’s largest coffee producer as a viable option when we are hunting out our next single origin? Of course not and with great volume comes great coffee. Here at Dog and Hat we love Brazils. Brazil is at the forefront of experimental processing methods and has produced some phenomenal offerings, with acidity and complexity.
Breaking down Preconceptions
Brazil, when featured in the subscription, always generates the same emails. "I opened the bag of the Brazil and did not expect much"....but then we get "wow I was blown away", Just last month we presented an amazing coffee from Nomad, which generated a number of flattering emails from subscribers swooning over its thick honeyed deliciousness.
How many times have you looked at the price of a bag of coffee before deciding on it? Between £7 and £14 is usually what we expect when purchasing coffee in the UK. Under £6 and we begin to question it, however often that coffee is Brazilian in origin. There are a few reasons why but it doesn’t mean that’s the coffee is poor quality.
A lot of producers have multiple crops, some for-commodity use, some lower Q-graded for speciality blends and then the cream of the crop, not always treated with a natural process we associate with the muddy cup of single origin brazil instead cherries are subject to carefully planned experimental processing methods. They undergo anaerobic fermentation, carbonic macerations and honey processing. This isn’t to say natural or washed Brazils can’t be good too. We need to be selective with what we chose. These split plantations often demand a lower price compared to a similar processed African coffee, usually because the overall crops are larger and experimental processing methods are not as risky.
On the other hand, I’d prefer to purchase coffee from a roaster or green importer that has paid the supplier a good price, good coffee demands a good price. Something to bear in mind when seeking out a good Brazil.
Think again – I urge you
Because of Brazils huge export of commodity coffee, it is often a second thought when it comes to speciality. Brazilian coffees find themselves in darker roasted blends, this only perpetuates the bad relationship filter drinkers and certain espresso lovers have with Brazilian coffee.
Often the low acidity from a cup of brazil leaves us with utter disdain for the coffee we’ve just brewed. What was wrong? The aroma out the bag was beautiful. The grounds when wet. Incredible. Yet the coffee has fallen short. Why? Because that loathsome acidy is not there.
All is not lost my friends. There is something to be salvaged.
Alter your dose a little, if you find the body too heavy lower it, use shorter more controlled pours, increase your brewing temperature a bit – 96 for a pour over. If this does not quite work you can also adjust your grind size just a touch, the more course the grind the shorter the brew time and the more acidity.
On the other hand, while I enjoy the challenge of eking out the brightness from the most mundane coffee. I like a cup of Natural Brazilian coffee on filter its different but I like it. Once the cup has time to cool you will find a very pleasing coffee. The citrus and milk chocolate flavour notes shine through and it’s a delight.
I urge you to go out and get yourself a bag of Brazilian coffee the weirder the process the better. Here’s some of the Brazilian coffees I’ve loved this year.
Gold box – Lady Marmalade
This was the 2019 crop of Lady Marmalade, roasted in Feb 2020. It was incredible.
Taste notes of Marmalade, Passion fruit, Brown Sugar with an intense aftertaste. Cherries are picked from a micro region the locals call Bee Mountain (1000-1200masl), Sul De Minas, Brazil. From the Fazenda Santa Lucia farm owned by The Garcia Family.
Natural processed, Yellow Catuai, Sorted through washing, followed by a 48 hour temperature controlled anaerobic fermentation.
A note from the roaster on the side of the tin – “We are delighted that we have been honoured to have the very first special preparation, nano lot, ever produced from Santa Lucia. This coffee will change everything you thought you knew about Brazilian coffee. So, please enjoy.”
Pair Cup works – Experimental natural
This coffee I imported from America and I am so pleased I did. She’s a real beauty.
Produced by José Augusto Peixoto at Fazenda São José da Boa Vista(1280masl), in Sul de Minas, Brazil. An experimental natural Yellow Catucai.
Tasting notes of Meyer lemon, Brandy and stone fruit. The dry aroma from this coffee was sensational. Full disclosure, I had to google what a Meyer lemon is. It’s a hybrid of citron and mandarin. All you need to know is its beautiful.
Nomad – F.BR.RECA
An import from Spain, Barcelona. This was the 2020 harvest from the Vinhal families fazenda, Recanto. (950masl) A Honey processed, Catuai 144. This is a full-bodied coffee with flavour notes of coconut and pineapple yoghurt and nectarine and peach.
This is a full-bodied coffee with flavour notes of coconut and pineapple yoghurt and nectarine and peach. This coffee is exceedingly sweet and in my humble opinion best served iced brewed with a flat-bottomed brewer over ice.
Mio – 1911
By direct trade with Ana Pellicer, roasted by Assembly. Produced by the Pellicer family's Mio farm in Monte Santo de Minas in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil (1100masl).
The farm spans a total of 1,589 hectares. A third of the land is used for the coffee processing and milling facilities, some pasture areas and the plantation of eucalyptus trees, which is home to some lovely bees. The rest of the land is equally divided between the coffee trees and the native forest reserve. With plenty of spring water in the estate, one of Mió’s responsibilities is to not only maintain the water flow but to also improve water quality.This stunning coffee is a natural processed Yellow Catucai with flavour notes of Cherry, Almond Nougat and Milk chocolate.
The Brazilian speciality coffee scene is diverse no 2 of these coffees are the same, there is something for everyone. Next time give brazil a chance.