As you may know, we recently changed our House Darker Roast, Seasonal Guest and House Decaf Roast. We do this every year or so when a new crop comes up that we think you’ll like more. The House Darker Roast has always been our most popular coffee, with almost ¾ of our coffee subscribers choosing to add this single origin to their subscription!
Previously, it was a high-grade Colombian coffee. Colombia is well-known for producing excellent quality beans, with farmers and communities devoting time, energy and patience to get the perfect crop! It really was something special, so as you can imagine we didn’t take our decision to change our House Darker Roast too lightly.
Then we tried a single origin coffee grown in Brazil, roasted in Dorset and brewed with a One Brew. Personally, I love the style of coffee the One Brew creates. It’s a medium strength with a velvety body, similar to the type of coffee you make with a cafetiere. The main difference is the brewing method – the One Brew uses gravity to slowly extract the full flavours from the beans. A cafetiere typically uses immersion and the plunge to speed the process up. To really experience the full flavour of a new coffee, try brewing with a One Brew or follow a specialty cafetiere method.
So what did we think? Clearly, if we made the switch we thought it was worth it. But what was it about the Brazilian coffee that we fell in love with?
Brazilian Coffee Tasting Notes
One of the things we absolutely love about Brazilian coffee is its intense sweetness. You’ll notice it immediately with Our House Darker Roast. We never roast super dark, so it’s more of a medium-dark roast. This is to prevent masking any of the rich chocolate, hazelnut or macadamia tasting notes.
As well as an intense sweetness, Brazilian coffee typically offers a relatively low acidity and big bodies. Sometimes underestimated, you’ll be blown away by the flavours and texture profiles you find when you switch up your brewing style.
How to Brew Brazilian Coffee
Now we recommend using Our House Darker Roast as an espresso, but equally this Brazilian specialty coffee makes a great filter brew. The coffee maker you use effects the body of your final cup of coffee more than the beans you use to make it. If you like a velvety coffee with a big body, try new Our House Darker Roast in a cafetiere. On the other hand, lovers of a clean and crisp brew might prefer this single origin Brazilian coffee brewed with a pour over.
Coffee Bean Varietals Growing in Brazil
There are 6 common coffee bean varietals growing in Brazil, all of which are Arabica. Our House Darker Roast is a single origin Bourbon bean, roasted medium-dark for intense flavour. The other 5 varietals you can expect to find in Brazil are:
Typically, all of these coffee bean varieties will have a low caffeine content and be almost free of acidity. This means that the flavour profile is vibrant, really dancing in your mouth. The tasting notes are harmonic, making for some excellent blends.
Introducing Cafezinho: A Traditional Brazilian Coffee Drink
If you want to try a true Brazilian coffee-based beverage, it has to be a Cafezinho. You’ll find this commonly served all over Brazil and across South America. To make a Cafezinho, you’ll add some unrefined sugar (popular all over Brazil) to black coffee. The drink is very similar in style to Italian espresso. If you prefer to add milk or cream to your black coffee, go ahead and do that. You’ll see people in Brazil drinking their coffee both black or adding cream or milk to lighten the flavour and give it a thicker texture.
Colombian vs Brazilian Coffee
Our coffee subscribers will know that Our House Darker Roast used to come from Colombia. This was by far the most popular coffee we have ever offered. We even used this roast in Barista & Co Social. As you can imagine, anything we were going to use to replace this Colombian darker roast would have to be exceptional. And when we say exceptional, we don’t take that lightly.
Our House Darker Roast is now a 100% arabica coffee from the Mogiana region of Brazil. So what makes this new single origin so special? And what on earth made us switch our best seller…? Let’s look at the differences between Colombian and Brazilian coffee.
Colombia might be famous for its wide variety of coffee, but how much do you actually know about it? Firstly, Colombian coffee is typically quite mild in flavour. This is why it’s often preferred for espresso-based beverages including iced latte’s, flat whites and mocha. The Colombian coffee beans don’t have an intense flavour making them a great choice for baristas.
Brazilian coffee is somewhat different, offering much bolder, sweeter tasting notes. It’s common to pick up chocolate, caramel and vanilla tasting notes from a Brazilian coffee bean. Intensely sweet, rich and delicious – there is no need to add sugary syrups, sweetened alternative milks or sugar to a brew made with one of Brazil’s famous coffee varietals.
So one of the main differences is taste. Colombian coffee wins if you like a mild drink or you add additional sweetness like syrups, sugars or milk. Brazilian coffee wins if you like your beans to have a more intense flavour, and more sweetness overall.
The other big difference is aroma. Colombian coffee has an incredibly rich scent, it will hit you in the face when you open the bag or walk into any specialty coffee shop. Brazilian coffee tends not to be so in your face, but the more subtle aromas are representative of the flavours you can expect from your brew. If the smell of your beans is something you really care about, you might prefer a Colombian coffee. If flavour is more your cup of tea, it’s worth making the switch.
To put it simply, Colombian coffees tend to have a fruitier flavour and have higher levels of acidity when compared to Brazilian coffee beans. It is much easier to find specialty coffee from Colombia than it is to find the same quality beans from Brazil, but you wouldn’t want to pass up the opportunity to try either of these.
Obviously we love Colombian coffee (who doesn’t), but we simultaneously decided the new Brazilian single origin was better. Every time a new crop comes out we go back to the drawing boards, making and tasting a lot of fresh coffee. This year, it just so happens that the Brazilian crop came out on top.
Is Brazilian Coffee High in Caffeine?
Brazilian coffee beans are famously low in acidity and have fairly low caffeine levels. This is because of the varietals grown in Brazil. The main varietals of coffee beans grown in Brazil are:
All of these coffee varietals are arabica beans, hence the low acidity and caffeine levels. If you’re looking for a full bodied coffee that packs a punch there are two things you need to remember. Firstly, robusta coffee beans have higher caffeine levels than arabica beans. You could find a blend containing robusta or a single origin that is 100% robusta if you want more caffeine in your morning brew.
The second thing to remember is that light roast coffee beans container higher caffeine levels that darker roast beans. This is because the longer and darker the beans are roasted, the more natural oils, flavours and caffeine particles are lost from the coffee itself. For more information about the difference between light roast, medium roast and dark roast coffee beans you should read this article.
Where is the Best Coffee in Brazil Grown?
Let’s take a step back and start thinking of our coffee beans like wine. Wine is made from grapes which are grown on vineyards all over the world. But it’s not just the country that effects the quality of the grapes and the wine. The soil, the minerals, the altitude, the % of time spent in the shade, the humidity all impact the quality of the grapes growth. Now, think about a simple 10-acre square. One corner might have higher quality soil, even marginally will impact the final product. Wine producers constantly test these things, obviously. They’re aiming to make a better bottle of wine than their neighbour. That’s how we get tiers of wine – Chablis, Chablis Grand Cruz, Chablis Premier Cruz etc.
Every vineyard has its top spots. The crème de la crème. Coffee farms are no different.
So back to the original question – where is the best coffee in Brazil grown? In the Minas Gerais region… most likely.
The Minas Gerais region of Brazil produces over half of the countries coffee beans. It’s a pretty important industry in this area. This region is famous for super rich soils and higher elevations, creating the ideal growing conditions for specialty coffee beans.
But why did I say ‘most likely’?
If we go back to our wine analogy, we know that there’s always going to be a hotspot on every farm. The premier cruz area as it were. Just because the Minas Gerais region produces the most specialty coffee, it doesn’t mean other regions are out of the running. It all comes down to environment.
Our House Darker Roast is hand-picked in the Mogiana region of Brazil. Grown at an altitude of 1000m – 1100m, the coffee beans are 100% Yellow Bourbon variety which is known for low acidity and a sweet, nutty flavour. Grown on a hillside, the coffee fruits benefit from longer days and clean air. Meanwhile, the soils are nourished with natural mineral waters from nearby springs. These factors influence the flavour of the beans, creating a smoother, cleaner cup of coffee at the end.
Should Brazilian Coffee be Dark Roasted?
Roast profiles aren’t really based on the beans origins. It’s got more to do with personal preference. If you like intense, bitter coffee then you’ll love super dark roasted beans. This is the kind of style of coffee you’ll find in Italy, typically served as espresso with brown sugar to complement the strong flavours. Remember, strong flavours don’t mean stronger coffee in terms of caffeine levels – light roast coffee contains more caffeine than dark roast coffee beans do.
Brazilian coffee, particularly high grade specialty coffees picked in these areas, are the perfect candidate for a light roast. The flavours are clean, not overpowered by any one tasting note. You’ll find a lot of nuts, chocolate, vanilla and other complementary flavours so there really is no need to roast too dark.
Our House Darker Roast isn’t Italian style dark, in fact it’s much closer to a medium roast. It still makes a gorgeously smooth espresso, perfect drunk solo or as the base to a flat white, latte or cappuccino. However, the slightly lighter roast is a great way to taste all of the flavours if you drink black coffee.
I’d recommend this House Roast to anyone that like their coffee with milk. With that being said, we don’t roast anything super dark so you’ll get a cracking filter or pour over coffee with these beans as well.
Where Can I Buy Brazilian Coffee?
Brazil is one of the largest producers of coffee beans, both commodity and specialty, so it’s quite easy to find a roaster that offers beans from this country. Our House Darker Roast is hand-picked in Brazil and is available to buy online by the bag or save 10% when you become a coffee subscriber.
One thing I’ll always say is try at least two different coffees from a country before you decide whether you like it or not. Supermarket coffee tends to be commodity coffee, which means it hasn’t scored a high enough grade to be deemed as specialty coffee. While the price may lure you in, you definitely can’t base your opinion on an entire regions coffee beans by trying one bag!