In this article we look at the origins of coffee from the South American continent. Brazilian Coffee - Brazil produces roughly a third of the worlds' coffee, but the bulk of it is of the Robusta variety and is not considered to be of high quality. The coffee is mainly in blending due to its relatively low price. However there are some excellent Arabica coffees grown around the Sao Paulo region, where the well know Santos or Bourbon Santos bean are produced.
Another popular variety is the Rio, a dry-processed bean with a characteristic medicinal-like flavour. Considered a defect by most westerners it is however much loved in the Balkans and Middle-Eastern countries. Coffee From Colombia - Colombia produces a large amount of excellent and consistent quality - predominately Arabica - beans each year. It is now the biggest producer of Arabica coffees on the planet.
The standard Colombian coffee is wet-processed, and is grown by small farmers or smallholders - mostly in the three main mountain ranges (called cordilleras) - and collected, processed, milled and exported by the Colombian Coffee Federation. It is all well balanced, has excellent consistency and can range from a superb, high-grown, mildly fruity flavour, to a rather ordinary, yet still fruity coffee. The Colombian coffee industry has a well-deserved reputation for quality.
Peruvian Coffees - Despite domestic political problems, Peru still manages to figure among the top ten coffee producers in the world. The best Peruvian coffees are high grown arabicas, which are flavourful, aromatic, gentle, and mildly acidy, and they are highly valued for their blending properties. Ecuadorian Coffees - In 2007 Ecuador produced nearly a million bags of both arabica and robusta coffees. These coffees are medium-bodied and fairly acidy, with a straightforward flavour typical of most Central and South American coffee. Whilst the country has everything to produce top quality coffees, in fact most of the coffee exported is aimed at low price rather than high quality.
A considerable amount of coffee is however consumed within the country. Venezuelan Coffees - Venezuela used to produce large quantities of coffee comparable to that of Colombia but since the discovery of oil it's past glories have waned substantially so that today Venezuela only produces around 7% of Colombia's production. Most of this is drunk by the Venezuelans themselves. Unsurprisingly the best arabica Venezuelan coffee comes from the far western corner of the country - the part that borders Colombia. Coffees from this area usually are called Maracaibos, after the port through which they are shipped.
The best-known Maracaibo coffees are Caracus, Cúcuta, Mérida, Trujillo, and Táchira. Regardless of market name, the highest grade of Venezuela coffee is Lavado Fino, (fine washed) Look out for my other articles in this series of coffees from around the globe.
For more information about the origins of coffee visit the coffee school at http://www.cafebar.co.uk