Brazil is the largest producer and exporter of coffee in the world. The quantity we produce represents an impressive 40% of global production, isn't that something? But nothing like showing the numbers. To give you an idea, in 2020, the world consumed 166 million 132-pound bags of coffee, and Brazil was responsible for approximately 67.97 million of those.
This story began in the 18th century. The first coffee seedling arrived in the country in 1727, brought from French Guiana to the state of Pará. However, it was only in the early 19th century that coffee cultivation developed significantly, especially in the regions of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais.
Coffee quickly became a crop of great economic importance for Brazil. It was thanks to coffee and sugarcane that our country developed and industrialized. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, coffee production and exports intensified, a period known as the "Coffee Era," which contributed to the expansion of railways, the growth of cities, and the consolidation of the Brazilian economy. Coffee was the driving force behind everything and everyone. For example, the Port of Santos in São Paulo, from the Coffee Era to the present day, is the main port in Brazil that exports coffee to the rest of the world.
Since then, Brazil has become the largest producer and exporter of Arabica and Robusta coffee in the world in terms of raw numbers. The second-largest producer of Arabica coffee in the world is Colombia (averaging 11.08 million 132-pound bags), and the second-largest producer of Robusta coffee globally is Vietnam (averaging 32.5 million 132-pound bags). Arabica coffee is grown at higher altitudes, resulting in a smoother flavor and refined aroma. It represents the majority of Brazilian production and is more valued in the international market. Robusta is grown at lower altitudes, is more resistant, and is highly productive. It is commonly used in the production of instant coffee and blends.
Coffee cultivation spread to different regions of the country, adapting to favorable climatic and soil conditions. The coffee market is a vast sector that remains active and is much larger than you might imagine. Within each cup we drink, there are numerous hands and paths that coffee goes through, which we often don't even know exist.
The central coffee-producing regions are Southern Minas Gerais, Cerrado Mineiro, Matas de Minas, Mogiana Paulista, Southern Espírito Santo, Bahia, and Rondônia. As you can see, the majority are located in Minas Gerais, a state with an average annual coffee production ranging from 25 million to 30 million 132-pound bags.
In 2022, Brazil was responsible for producing approximately 67 million 132-pound bags of coffee. 70% of them were Arabica, and 30% were Robusta. Currently, Brazil exports coffee and maintains relations with 145 countries. Even the five largest coffee producers in the world (after Brazil) also buy Brazilian coffee. An average of 83% of each harvest is destined for the international market, and according to the ICO, only 20% is considered specialty coffee. This number already puts us on the podium globally as the largest supplier of 80+ coffee to the world.
In our history, the quantity to be produced has always been decisive for the economy and for those who work with coffee. In some cases, entire cities have developed and still depend on the labor provided by the harvest. With vast expanses of productive land, attention to quality still lags behind compared to the sheer quantity of Brazilian production. While other producing countries, with less land available, excel in quality. Those who have limited space and high production need to add value to the product. This is how many cover their expenses. Coffee is the number one source of income for entire families. Quality is the only means of subsistence for other producing countries, especially in regions where they only have a short window of time to harvest coffee.
Today, the consumer market has become more demanding when it comes to the quality of the cup they buy. This quality is measured using specific scoring tables for coffee, with descriptions of flavors and attributes such as body, acidity, and harmony. However, this is still far from the majority of the bags we deliver to the world. The Brazilian classification system categorizes coffee based on defects rather than the quality that distinguishes it as specialty coffee.
We are beginning the harvest of the 2023 crop. With differences in soil, management, altitude, climate, and more, Brazil, being a large and influential country, holds unmatched production capacity and supplies an immense international demand. It is a valuable moment for producers who want to invest in quality.
The diversity of flavors and profiles of specialty coffees produced in Brazil allows consumers around the world to enjoy a wide variety of options. Farms that invest in quality are participating in a new way of marketing this product and play a crucial role in the global future of coffee. Producers who understand techniques and processing methods that enhance quality create opportunities for others to join this movement, along with classifiers, tasters, roasters, traders, importers, and institutions. Together, we can work with a capacity for returns that is still difficult to estimate. Currently, only 20% of the annual production consists of specialty coffee. Imagine what will happen when we double that number.