20th
Aug
2016

Posted in Kafevend Blog

Brazilian beans


What with the Olympics in full swing in Rio at moment, we here at the Kafevend blog thought it would provide a good excuse to have a look at Brazil's long association with coffee. With that in mind, let's delve back a couple of centuries and see how it all got started...

Go west


Brazil was claimed by Portugal in 1500 by Pedro Álvares Cabral, a Portuguese nobleman in command of a expeditionary fleet making its way to India on a westward passage in much the same way as Columbus (Cabral actually made it to India, though!). Portuguese control of Brazil was under threat for a little while as diplomatic dispute with Spain got under way, and wasn't resolved until the Pope got involved. With the matter settled, European colonists moved in to settle down to the oft repeated business of exploiting the new landscape.

Coffee was introduced to Brazil at some time in the early 18th century. According to legend, it was the work of the Casanova-like diplomat Francisco de Melo Palheta who succeeded in bringing coffee to Brazil after seducing the wife of the governor of French Guiana. The governor had refused to provide coffee plants, but Francisco's charming ways secured him some beans which the governor's wife hid in a bouquet of flowers she gave to him.

A spoonful of sugar


Brazil is currently the world's largest coffee producer, and has been since 1850- quite an impressive record. Equally impressive is the fact that they currently produce around a third of the world's coffee. Like China with its tea, this isn't all just for export however. A great deal of it is consumed within Brazil, meaning the country is also one of the world's biggest coffee consumers- though this is by sheer dint of the number of people consuming it, rather than a particularly high amount per capita.

The most popular form of coffee in Brazil is the cafezinho- coffee Brazilian style. Wherever you go, the cafezinho is likely to be offered at some stage in your visit, if not the moment you walk through the door! Though similar in strength and size to the Italian espresso, it is made in a noticeably different way. First of all, sugar is added to a pan of water, which is then heated and brought to the boil. Next, a heaped tablespoon of ground coffee (good quality preferable!) is added to the pan and stirred in before being poured through a filter. Traditionally this is a cloth filter, but the cheap and cheerful nature of paper filters means that they are used too. The resulting brew is then served in an espresso cup. It seems simple enough to give this a go yourself, and may well be right up your alley if you find a regular espresso just a little too bitter!

References:

Brazil- my country
I need coffee

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