South American Coffee

Brazilian

Flavor Characteristics (see Coffee Taste Terms):

  • Complexity: Simple
  • Acidity: Low - of the most popular and accessible coffees of the world, Brazils have the lowest acidity
  • Body: Medium, like 2% milk

Facts about Brazilian coffee

  • Facts: Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer and produces approximately 25% of the world's coffee.
  • Region: South America - largest area, easternmost
  • Main growing areas: Main growing areas: Paraná, Espirito Santos, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Bahia
  • Most espresso coffees are a very dark-roasted Brazilian coffee.
  • According to economists, the volume of Brazilian coffee sold to the world stabilizes prices from other coffee-growing areas which would otherwise be many times higher.
  • Brazilian coffee can vary in quality and consistency. The most reputable is named after the port of Santos. Whenever possible, go for Brazilian Santos coffee over a 'generic' blend of Brazilian beans.

If you like Brazilian coffee, you might like...

  • Peruvian coffee: This has a simple flavor like Brazilian coffee that is easier going down than the more complex coffees that offer a variety of tastes in one cup. Peruvian coffee has a similar body -or mouthfeel- like 2% milk. The biggest difference will be in the acidity of Peruvian coffee which is higher than that of Brazilian coffee, so you can expect more tart or slightly more citrus pop in this than Brazilian.
  • Costa Rican coffee: This has a simple flavor like Brazilian coffee but this is where most of the similarities end. Costa Rican coffee has a heavier body, more like cream than a milky consistency. Also, it has considerably higher acidity so much 'higher' notes than what you'll find in Brazilian coffee.

Colombian

Flavor Characteristics (see Coffee Taste Terms):

  • Complexity: Simple and balanced
  • Acidity: High
  • Body: Heavy mouthfeel, like cream
  • Aroma: Floral

Facts about Colombian coffee...

  • Facts: It is not the world's largest producer of coffee, but the best-marketed and most brand-recognized.
  • Region: South America - northeast, connecting to Central America
  • Main growing areas: Huila, Santander, Popayan, and Nariño

  • The persona of Juan Valdez and his coffee-carrying mule is a product of Colombian marketing. This coffee is the most successfully marketed, more recognized at least in North America than its higher-producing neighbor Brazil and than other coffees of the world considered by many to be of better quality.
  • Colombia is the world's second largest producer of coffee.
  • The designation of "Supremo" should still mean something when buying from a quality source. It was a strict grade at one time, but take it less seriously when used by a lesser source such as a grocery store. A grocery store, for its sub-par care of coffee, is not likely procuring Colombia's highest standard of coffee.

If you like Colombian coffee, you might like...

  • Costa Rican coffee: These two coffees are very similar in flavor characteristics. Both have a simple and balanced complexity, a high acidity meaning tart in the flavor, and a heavy body or mouthfeel. The one major difference is that Colombian coffee is described by some to have a floral aroma which adds to the taste that a Costa Rican coffee does not.
  • Hawaiian coffee: This recommendation has nothing to do with cost, since Hawaiian Kona coffee is one of the two most expensive coffees in the world. If cost is an issue, go with a Kona blend, often sold as a 10% Kona blend. Like Colombian coffee, Hawaiian Kona coffee is simple and balanced in complexity, high in acidity, and with a floral aroma adding to its flavor. The only difference is that the body or mouthfeel of Hawaiian coffee is not as rich as Colombian coffee so it will sit a little lighter in the mouth. If you find Colombian coffee to be rich or heavy, this last point will appeal to you.

Peruvian

Flavor Characteristics (see Coffee Taste Terms):

  • Complexity: Simple and balanced
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Medium mouthfeel, like 2% milk

Facts about Peruvian coffee

  • Facts: A mild coffee, Peruvian beans are often used in blends for its mellow character and in coffees flavored with oils so that the artificial flavor is not overpowered by a bold coffee.
  • Region: South America, east of Brazil and Bolivia, south of Colombia
  • Main growing areas: Chanchamayo Valley, Cuzco
  • Peruvian coffee's highest grade is "AAA", though the designation is not marketed as prominently as Kenya's "AA" coffee. Peru has become the world's primary source for high-quality organically grown coffee. While the government's role is not in rating coffee, they understand its value for exporting and go to lengths to educate farmers on proper growing. The country's altitudes provide great natural growing conditions.
  • Of the major coffee growing areas of the world, it is difficult to find a comparison for Peruvian coffee because it is the only coffee from a major grower that is so mild in flavor and middle-of-the-road in acidity. Most other coffees so mild are high in acidity (except for Brazils).

If you like Peruvian coffee, you might like...

  • Colombian coffee: Both coffees have a simple and balanced flavor. Peruvian coffee is not as thick as Colombian, instead with a medium mouthfeel. Peruvian coffee is also medium in acidity and lacks the aromatic quality of a Colombian coffee.
  • Hawaiian coffee: Hawaiian coffee is probably closer in taste to Colombian coffee than it is to Peruvian coffee. Both have simple and balanced flavors, but like Colombian coffee, Hawaiian coffee is thicker and boasts of a floral aroma that Peruvian coffee lacks.

Check out Marc's posts on Coffees of the World