From the vast mountain ranges of the Peruvian Andes to the dense, lively thicket of the Brazilian rainforest, coffee has long been adopted by much of South America. However, its story does not begin there, but originally in Africa! Today, many South American coffees from countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela, are now known and loved around the world. In fact, in Brazil alone, the country is recognised for boasting the biggest and most fruitful coffee industry globally, accounting for approximately a third of the world’s coffee.
When it comes to figures, that is an estimated $4.9 billion USD on an annual basis! (It is no surprise, then, that coffee is proudly the national beverage of the nation). Amazingly, it is believed that for every coffee produced anywhere else on the planet, Brazil can equal it bean for bean! The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company do not know this for sure, but we are instead certain that, no matter which South American coffee you decide upon, you are, without a doubt, in for a real treat.
The pioneering phase of coffee cultivation in South America was actually a gradual process following coffee’s introduction from Ethiopia in Africa to Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. This may, at first, seem baffling to some, but this cultivation spread, with the Dutch then taking coffee plants to be grown in Java, Indonesia, in 1690. Following this, coffee reached the Caribbean in 1718 through its introduction to the Dutch colony of Suriname. Decades after its establishment in the New World, coffee would finally reach South America.
The earliest generations of coffee farmers in South America essentially discovered the art of coffee cultivation through a process of trial and error. By the 1830’s, most of Spain and Portugal’s mainland South American colonies had achieved Independence, and with this came a further expansion of the coffee industry on the continent. Ultimately, this period would see South America rise from obscurity to become one of the most crucial components in the entire world of coffee trade.
During the 19th Century, Brazilian coffee, in particular, was predominantly exported to the United States, who at the time, consumed approximately 40% of the world’s coffee. Eventually, Brazil surpassed other booming coffee producers in the Dutch East Indies and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), to become the biggest, and undoubtedly the most vital producer.
By the 1880’s, Brazil already produced 80% of the world’s coffee, which had increased by an astounding 1,500% since it had obtained independence in 1822. In other South American countries, meanwhile, coffee cultivation and exportation took off at a steadier pace. However, as of present-day, Columbia is now recognised as the third biggest coffee producer in the world, while Peru is the eleventh.
It is near enough impossible to generalise the tastes and aromas associated with South American coffees due to the varying environments and climates, as well as the many different production methods used across a continent that is 17,821,029 square kilometres in size. However, broadly speaking, coffees from Brazil - which are predominantly, although not exclusively Arabica beans consist of a delightfully nutty character with an unmistakably full body. This includes our very own Brazilian Santos Coffee and our Brazilian Rainforest Alliance Coffee.
Colombian coffee beans, meanwhile, may offer well-balanced tastes coupled with moderate acidity and sweetness. Then you have Peruvian coffees, which are sometimes recognised as tart or even citrusy in flavour. As stated previously, this does not apply to every beverage and its respective country of origin. Instead, take this as a basic guideline and explore for yourself with The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company!