At Ally Coffee, we know and love coffees from Brazil. The country encompasses a significant portion of the South American continent’s land area and its coffees are as diverse as the people who grow them, from smallholders descended from Eastern European immigrants in Espirito Santo to large estate owners and agribusinesses in Minas Gerais.
In Brazil, as in all coffee origins, coffee growing regions are defined by a combination of physical and political geography. The Brazil Specialty Coffee Association identifies twenty-five different coffee regions; most of our offerings from Brazil fall into one of the seven main regions identified on the map above. The bold black outlines indicate Brazil’s political boundaries. The country’s coffee regions, shaded in different colors, are located across several Brazilian political states. The locations of coffee farms are determined by the human and environmental landscape; mountains, plateaus, rivers, and soil all have as much of an influence on the concentration of coffee farms as do highways, warehouses, and milling facilities. While most of Brazil’s coffee is grown in Minas Gerais, the size and variation of the state means that coffee from each region has a unique terroir.
Alta Mogiana is a region in the northern part of the state of Sao Paulo. The region’s farms lie on the other side of the mountains in Sul de Minas. Mogiana has a reputation for quality in the cup and thanks to the efforts of the regions farmers, many of whom have earned UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certifications for their properties.
Cerrado Mineiro includes a large central portion of the state of Minas Gerais. Farms in the Cerrado tend to be larger estates, either owned by families or by private businesses, and managed using a wide range of available agroindustrial technology, including irrigation and mechanical harvesting. Cerrado’s coffee farmers are organized, inquisitive, and active. The region has the Cerrado Mineiro Denomination of Origin traceability and verification program that ensures best practices and the provenance of coffee. Many farms in the Cerrado are part of cooperatives or producers’ associations. Coffee growers here follow the latest research and development in production strategies, such as hybrid varietals developed by universities and research institutions.
Chapada de Minas is a smaller, emerging coffee region of Minas Gerais. Similar to the Cerrado, farms in Chapada are often expansive and use many available farming technologies. Many coffee estates here also grow other crops, like eucalyptus and mahogany trees. Coffee growers in Chapada have helped lead efforts in sustainability, including expanding forest preserves by reforesting portions of farms and protecting water sources through recycling water used in pulped natural coffee processing.
Matas de Minas is in the southern portion of Minas Gerais and includes the reputable area of Caparao. The Minas Gerais’ mountains begin in Matas, and farms in the zone are smaller scale and managed by smallholder families. Here, coffee is sometimes harvested manually and often dried on smaller paved patios close to farmers’ homes. Many farmers in Matas are descended from Eastern European and Italian immigrants who came to Brazil in the early part of the twentieth century and grow coffee as an adaptation of the farming traditions their grandparents brought with them.
Montanhas de Espirito Santo is the mountainous region that borders Minas Gerais in the Western part of the state of Espirito Santo, a state otherwise known for its beaches. Farms in Espirito Santo are on the back side of the steep mountains that rise up from the coast. Many farmers in this region grew or still grow Conilon Rubusta in addition to Arabica varieties of coffee. Farms here are also smaller family operations and many families are descended from Pomeranian immigrants who emigrated from what is now Germany and Poland. Espirito Santo is home to the world’s largest concentration of native Pomeranian speakers. In recent years, there has been an explosion of quality coffees from farmers in Espirito Santo who have taken to careful pulped natural processing and found fruit and floral flavor notes in the cup.
Norte de Minas is the northernmost part of Minas Gerais, bordering the state of Bahia. The state of Minas Gerais is named for its “large mines” that were established by early colonial industry. Today, Norte de Minas still sees some mining activity, but beyond the dry plains there are thriving coffee farms, many run by families with roots in other states who sought new opportunity on the northern frontier.
Sul de Minas is Minas Gerais’ southern edge and home to farms of all sizes. The farms in the mountains of Sul de Minas, including the Serra da Mantiqueira range, are a world apart from the technified estates farther north in Minas and more closely resemble the mountainside fincas of other South American growing regions.
Each harvest, Ally carries coffee from a diverse range of farms from each of these regions in Brazil. Contrary to many preconceptions, coffee from Brazil is exceptionally traceable. In countries where each farm’s production volume is small, cooperatives often consolidate coffee into exportable volumes. Many of Brazil’s estates produce multiple containers each harvest and process their coffee right on the same property. It is also comparatively easy to mill smaller microlots of less than a container load because farms without milling facilities are located closer to regional processing infrastructure.
In Ally’s many years working with coffee producers from across Brazil, we are continually impressed with each landowner’s motivation to improve, innovate, and adapt. In some places, tradition is king. For Brazil’s coffee professionals, the tradition is change, and producers and processers are always looking for better methods to deliver delicious coffee.