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fev 06, 2018
Food and Beverages

Minas Gerais: the specialty coffee wonderland

The state of Minas Gerais first gained notoriety – both in Brazil and abroad – thanks to its dairy industry. After all, the Canastra cheese has won many international awards – beating famous French cheeses on “head-to-head” contests. But now, the region has consolidated its fame as a producer of world-class specialty coffee.

It is by no means a coincidence that the most expensive coffee ever to be sold in the world comes from a farm in Minas Gerais. Beans from the Bom Jardim Farm, in Patrocínio, were snatched by Japanese and Australian buyers for $16,800 per 60kg bag. That mark obliterated the previous record – also from Brazil. In 2016, beans from Bahia were sold for roughly $5,800 per 60kg bag.

Minas Gerais is also home to the Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA), which certifies and represents producers of the finest beans in the country. There are currently 96 certified producers, who have to meet a strict set of requirements to earn the “specialty” label. “The quality of our products is rising. Other countries will have to understand that and pay more for it,” said Vanúsia Nogueira, BSCA’s Executive Director, to BHAZ.

To promote the quality and complexity of Brazilian specialty coffee, BSCA organizes a series of contests. The most important of them, called Cup of Excellence, is organized in partnership with the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil). The Cup of Excellence judges awarded the highest score ever registered internationally to a coffee from the south of Minas Gerais. Since 2005, no other coffee in the world has managed to beat its 95.85 complexity score.

As Minas Gerais’ southern region gets more and more notoriety for the excellence of its coffee beans, a second industry has picked up as a result: specialized tourism. Many agencies and individual guides are now offering tours around the prestigious Coffee Route, taking their customers to visit farms and artisanal roasting and grinding mills.

While the demand for Brazilian beans gains traction, the domestic market is also showing a steady rise. Specialty coffee consumption has grown 13 percent over the past three years, and specialty beans account for over 20 percent of Brazilian exports, according to the Brazilian Coffee Industry Association (ABIC).

While Minas Gerais remains a leading producer of specialty coffee, it has a lot of competition from other Brazilian regions. Mato Grosso, an agricultural powerhouse, will invest about $2 million to boost its coffee sector. The goal is to nearly double statewide production by the end of 2018.