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BRASIL - History of Coffee

Coffee production in Brazil is responsible for about a third of all coffee, making the country by far the world's largest producer, a position it has held for the last 150 years. Coffee plantations are located in different producing regions, where the environment and climate provide ideal growing conditions.


The crop first arrived in Brazil in the 18th century and the country had become the dominant producer by the 1840s. Production as a share of world production peaked in the 1920s, with the country supplying 80% of the world's coffee, but has declined since the 1950s due to increased global production.


Coffee is not native to the Americas and had to be planted in the country. The first coffee bush in Brazil was planted by Francisco de Melo Palheta in the state of Pará in 1727. According to the legend, the Portuguese were looking for a cut of the coffee market, but could not obtain seeds from bordering French Guiana due to the governor's unwillingness to export the seeds. Palheta was sent to French Guiana on a diplomatic mission to resolve a border dispute. On his way back home, he managed to smuggle the seeds into Brazil by seducing the governor's wife who secretly gave him a bouquet spiked with seeds.

The second boom ran from the 1880s to the 1930s, corresponding to a period in Brazilian politics called “Café com leite” ("coffee with milk"). The name refers to the largest states' dominating industries: coffee in São Paulo and dairy in Minas Gerais.


During the 1880’s and 70% during the 1920’s, most of the workers were black men, including both slaves and free. Increasingly Italian, Spanish and Japanese immigrants provided the expanded labor force. The railway system was built to haul the coffee beans to market, but it also provided essential internal transportation for both freight and passengers, as well as develop a large skilled labor force. The growing coffee industry attracted millions of immigrants and transformed São Paulo from a small town to the largest industrial center in the developing world. The city's population of 30,000 in the 1850’s grew to 70,000 in 1890 and 240,000 in 1900. With one million inhabitants in the 1930’s São Paulo surpassed Rio de Janeiro as the country's largest city and most important industrial center. By the early 20th century, coffee accounted for 16% of Brazil's gross national product, and three fourths of its export earnings. The growers and exporters played major roles in politics; however historians are debating whether not they were the most powerful actors in the political system. The February 1906 "valorization" is a clear example of the high influence on federal politics São Paulo gained from the coffee production. Overproduction had decreased the price of coffee, and to protect the coffee industry – and the interests of the local coffee elite – the government was to control the price by buying abundant harvests and sell it at the international market at a better opportunity. The scheme sparked a temporary rise in the price and promoted the continued expansion of the coffee production. The valorization scheme was successful from the perspective of the planters and the Brazilian state, but led to a global oversupply and increased the damages from the crash during the Great Depression in the 1930s.


In the 1920s, Brazil was a nearly monopolist of the international coffee market and supplied 80% of the world's coffee. Since the 1950s, the country's market share steadily declined due to increased global production. Despite a falling share and attempts by the government to decrease the export sector's dependency on a single crop, coffee still accounted for 60% of Brazil's total exports as late as 1960.


Before the 1960s, historians generally ignored the coffee industry because it seemed too embarrassing. Coffee was not a major industry in the colonial period. In any one particular locality, the coffee industry flurried for a few decades and then moved on as the soil lost its fertility. This movement was called the Coffee Front and pushed deforestation westward. Due to this transience coffee production was not deeply embedded in the history of anyone locality. After independence coffee plantations were associated with slavery, underdevelopment, and a political oligarchy, and not the modern development of state and society. Historians now recognize the importance of the industry, and there is a flourishing scholarly literature.


1990’s Deregulations

Consumers' change in taste towards milder and higher quality coffee triggered a disagreement over export quotas of the International Coffee Agreement at the end of the 1980s. With the retained quotas from the 1983 agreement, the change increased the value of milder coffee at the expense of more traditional varieties. Brazil, in particular, refused to reduce its quotas believing it would lower its market share. The consumers, led by the United States, demanded the higher coffee quality and the end of selling coffee to non-members at reduced rates. US officials criticized Brazil for not being willing to accept a reduction of the country's quotas despite the falling share of the world market since 1980. Ambassador Jorio Dauster, head of the state-controlled Brazilian Coffee Institute, believed Brazil could survive without help from the agreement. Not being able to reach an agreement in a timely manner, the agreement broke down in 1989. As a result, the Brazilian Coffee Institute, previously controlling the price of coffee by regulating the amount grown and sold, was abolished to limit government interference in favor of free markets. Up to this point, the industry had simply neglected quality control management because government regulations favored scale economies, but now coffee processors began exploring higher-quality segments in contrast to the traditionally lower quality.



The Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA) was founded in 1991 through the initiative of 12 producers who looked beyond their time, envisioning the commercial opportunities that investing in quality would bring.


It is a non-profit association that brings together people and companies in the internal and external specialty coffee markets, seeking to disseminate and stimulate technological improvement in the production, commercialization and industrialization of these products, in addition to promoting, mainly in the coffee areas, environmental preservation and the environmentally sustainable development through programs, projects and partnerships with public or private, domestic or foreign, entities.


The objective of BSCA is, through research, to spread of quality control techniques and promote products, to elevate the standards of excellence of Brazilian coffees offered in the internal and external markets. Nevertheless, it is the only Brazilian institution to certify lots and monitor specialty coffee quality control seals, with comprehensive tracking via individual numbering, which can be consulted by the consumer through the site (


In partnership with the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), BSCA created and conducts, since 1999, the Coffees of Brazil Quality Contest – Cup of Excellence, which also has stages in 11 other producer countries in the world. The CoE is a great opportunity to show the world the high quality of Brazilian coffees and allows winning producers to sell their coffees, through Internet auction, at extremely lucrative prices in relation to the conventional market. Given the success of this initiative and the volume of excellent natural coffees produced in Brazil, in 2011 BSCA promoted the first edition of the Cup Excellence – Natural Late Harvest, the only contest in the world-oriented especially to natural coffees. For all the actions and initiatives adopted and for the success obtained, currently, BSCA is internationally recognized as the vanguard of the production of fine coffees in Brazil and its operation is ongoing in promoting Brazilian producers and coffees.



Cup of Excellence is the most prestigious competition and award for high quality coffees. The level of scrutiny that Cup of Excellence coffees undergo is unmatched anywhere in the specialty coffee industry. Each year, thousands of coffees are submitted for consideration, with winning coffees sold in global online auctions at premium prices, with the vast majority of auction proceeds going to the farmers. 


The competition is rigorous, with cupping evaluations conducted over a three-week process by industry experts: first by a National Jury of about a dozen qualified jurors from the origin country, and then by an International Jury, comprised of approximately 20-25 experienced jurors from around the world. A competition with 300 entries yields an average of 9,000 analyzed cups, with each “Top 10” coffee being cupped at least 120 times.


The Cup of Excellence competition has pioneered integrity and transparency in the coffee industry, ensuring the value of winning coffees. Each sample entering the competition process is assigned a number known only to the auditor for each competition, and each jury member cups the coffee blind. In addition, each lot is documented through the entire process so that winning coffees are traceable to the farm and exact micro-lot.



Edgard and his partners believe baristas play a key role delivering the message about specialty coffees to consumers. Every year, coffees are selected to competitors who wish to use microlots from all producing regions.


Edgard Bressani, one of the partners at Latitudes Brazilian Coffees, has been connected to this community since 2002, has helped organize the competitions in Brazil. He was also president of Brazil Coffee and Barista Association.


Bressani also judges national competitions in diferente countries every year and is the author of the “The Barista Guide” (fifth edition), the first book published in Brazil that talks about coffee from seed to cup, with an easy way, aiming at providing knowledge to baristas and coffee lovers.


From 2004–2007, he participated at WBC Competitions as a Certified Judge. He has also been an active volunteer of WBC and served on the Rules and Regulations Committee, WBC’s Training Committee, and National Support CommitteeBressani was also a WCE Board Member.


The Barista Guild of America, founded in 2003, offers its members a variety of exceptional educational opportunities, including a Barista Certificate Program. Classes toward BGA Certificate Levels 1 and 2 are available at SCAA Skill-Building Workshops throughout the year and at the SCAA Annual Exposition. SCAA’s Regional Barista Competitions and the annual United States Barista Championship (USBC) provide excellent year-round networking opportunities for members and a venue for refining the industry’s cutting-edge trends in coffee preparation. The BGA is led by an annually elected Executive Council of 9 members, providing vision in standardizing educational tracks for those seeking a career in specialty coffee, and increasing awareness of the skill involved in crafting the perfect coffee beverage. The Barista Guild focuses on enhancing coffee quality, promoting craftsmanship and cultivating a sophisticated “public face” for the industry.




Latitudes Brazilian Coffees also participates at the events sponsored by Apex which, in partnership with business associations representing productive sectors, the Sector Projects (SP), organizes trade promotion initiatives, such as prospective and business missions, business rounds; support the participation of Brazilian companies in major international fairs and visits of foreign buyers and opinion makers to be familiar with the Brazilian productive structure, among other actions. Virtually all sectors of the Brazilian economy are supported by Apex-Brasil through SP currently developed. Each one of them offers a mix of sales promotion actions specific to each one of the segments covered. With the mission of fostering Brazilian exports, we develop and support activities to develop companies’ exporting abilities, thus contributing to the promotion of Brazilian industries on the international market. The Trade Sector Projects work with business sectors or productive chains, comprising some of Apex-Brasil’s main initiatives for stimulating the exports of Brazilian products.


Owned by SCA (merging of SCAA and SCAE), the World Coffee Events (WCE) is the preeminent international coffee competition organizer. The competition focuses on promoting excellence in coffee, advancing the barista, roasters and cuppers profession, and engaging a worldwide audience with annual championship events that serve as the culmination of local and regional events around the globe.


World Barista Championship


World Latte Art Championship


World Brewers Cup


World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship


World Coffee Roasting Championship


Ibrik Championship


As of January 2017, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, established in 1982, and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, established in 1998, have officially become one organization. The unified organization, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), is a membership-based association built on foundations of openness, inclusivity, and the power of shared knowledge. From coffee farmers to baristas and roasters, our membership spans the globe, encompassing every element of the coffee value chain. SCA acts as a unifying force within the specialty coffee industry and works to make coffee better by raising standards worldwide through a collaborative and progressive approach. Dedicated to building an industry that is fair, sustainable, and nurturing for all, SCA draws on years of insights and inspiration from the specialty coffee community.


The Specialty Coffee Association of Japan (SCAJ) raises awareness and deepens understanding of Specialty Coffee among Japanese consumers and coffee growers around the world. We seek to spread and publicize systematic knowledge of and practices in coffee processes from cultivation to the cup and to expand coffee consumption. Our fundamental concepts embrace the application of these efforts to the further development of the coffee culture of Japan, our contributions to the global Specialty Coffee movement and the improvement of the natural environment and standards of living in the coffee-producing countries.


The NZ Specialty Coffee Association (NZSCA), formerly the NZ Coffee Roasters Association (NZCRA), was formed in 2005 and is the national representative body for specialty coffee stakeholders in New Zealand.  Objectives: The purpose of the Association is to: (a) TO REPRESENT ALL STAKEHOLDERS in New Zealand specialty coffee by recognizing and engaging with the broad range of constituents in the industry;  (b) TO PROVIDE A FORUM for industry participants to advance the New Zealand specialty coffee industry; (c) TO PROVIDE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT through the provision of training, education, support and other development opportunities; (d) TO PROMOTE PUBLIC INTEREST by increasing consumer awareness and understanding of specialty coffee in New Zealand.


Giving a voice to specialty coffee in Australia, AASCA began as a vehicle for like-minded people in Australia with an interest in specialty coffee, at a time when the specialty coffee industry was very small. It enabled them to bounce ideas off one another, share opinions, successes and to work together collectively on issues affecting the industry as well as to introduce programs that would highlight this niche within the coffee world. Over time, the association has proceeded to adopt international quality standards through benchmarking with its sister organisations (SCAA and SCAE) and has been responsible for organising and running the Australian arm of specialty coffee competitions. The Australian competitions are recognized by and link in to the international competitions. AASCA is governed and run completely by volunteers. All work full time in the specialty coffee industry and contribute their free, unpaid time to run it.

Coffee Roaster Guild

The Roasters Guild (RG) is an official trade guild of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) that consists of specialty roasters dedicated to the craft of roasting quality coffee and promotes quality as the principle standard for success. Founded in 2000, the RG has steadily grown ever since and welcomes new members each year. To be a member of the Guild, roasting must be an integral part of one's profession. The Guild furthers roasters' knowledge of and skills in the history, fundamentals, art, and science of coffee roasting, and is the focused voice in the industry representing the interests of coffee roasters.

ICO - International Coffee Organization

The ICO is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, bringing together exporting and importing Governments to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation. Its Member Governments represent 98% of world coffee production and 83% of world consumption. The ICO’s mission is to strengthen the global coffee sector and promote its sustainable expansion in a market-based environment for the betterment of all participants in the coffee sector. It makes a practical contribution to the development of a sustainable world coffee sector and to reducing poverty in developing countries. The ICO was set up in London in 1963 under the auspices of the United Nations because of the great economic importance of coffee. It administers the International Coffee Agreement (ICA), an important instrument for development cooperation. The latest Agreement, the ICA 2007, entered into force on 2 February 2011.

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