As well as having a coffee celebrated throughout the world for its taste and quality, Brazil also produces one of the most exotic and exclusive coffees on the planet
For decades it has been hailed as the king of kings. There are many ways to prepare a flavoursome coffee: with filters, electric coffee machines and, more recently, with the domestic expresso machines that use coffee capsules filled with specified portions and flavours. Whether made at home or enjoyed in a café, bar or restaurant, the general consensus is unanimous: coffee is great, and if it’s Brazilian – given its undisputed quality – it’s even greater.
Coffee plays a unique part of many cultures, with an estimated global consumption of half a trillion cups per day. Brazil has been the largest producer and exporter of coffee for more than 100 years and the combined surface area of the country’s plantations is approximately 27,000km². According to production figures reported by the London-based International Coffee Organisation, the major producers of coffee behind Brazil are Vietnam (yes, after rice, coffee is the Vietnamese star), Columbia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, India, Honduras, Mexico, Uganda and Guatemala.
The Brazilian harvest is expected to exceed 53 million sacks of coffee in 2016, according to the Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Café (ABIC – Brazilian Coffee Industry Association). The association projects that consumption in Brazil alone could increase to 21.3 million sacks this year, which equates to approximately 173 billion cups! However, the volume of ground roasted coffee being exported is currently in decline owing to a Brazilian law which prohibits the importation of green coffee from other countries
Meanwhile, in 2015, British company Costa Coffee invested approximately £40 million in the construction of a new roasting plant in Basildon (Essex) to help lighten the load of their other roaster in Lambeth (South London), which was inaugurated more than 30 years ago. With both plants roasting beans, Costa Coffee will produce an impressive 56,000 tons of roasted coffee per year. The new plant is expected to be in operation in early 2017.
But coffee beans are not only used to prepare the hot beverage. The caffeine extracted is also used in soft drinks, pharmaceutical products, and even cosmetics. New research in the field of health and wellbeing suggests that the daily consumption of coffee (between three to four cups per day) can actually help in the prevention of certain diseases, such as diabetes in adults, cancer (colon, liver and breast) and Parkinson’s disease, to name just a few.
Brazilian coffee has one particularly interesting variety: the Jacu Bird Coffee. These coffee beans are consumed and excreted by the Jacu, which is a native bird to the Mata Atlântica. Jacu Bird Coffee is expensive, nearly 20 times the price of standard coffee. However, it comes nowhere near the price tag of two other exotic specialities, also produced by the digestive processes of small animals, the Kopi Luwak, from Indonesia, and the Black Ivory, from Thailand, both with prices that exceed £600 per kilo.
Did you know?
The International Day of Coffee is celebrated in various countries, however not always on the same date. In Brazil, for example, it is commemorated on 24 May, whereas in the UK it is the 1 October
How is Jacu Bird Coffee produced?
400 sacks are produced each year at the 300-hectare Fazenda Camocim in rural Espírito Santo. The production process is carried out by hand, given Fazenda Camocim is situated on an incline on which no use of machinery is possible. Every day, from April to October, 15 men cover the plantation by foot collecting the dry cherry and yellow coloured beans, leaving the green ones to mature. But they also collect another type of bean from the ground. Interestingly, the most perfect beans come from the foot of the coffee tree, and it is these ones that are idea for harvest that the Jacu Bird consumes.
The owner of the plantation already knew of the Kopi Luwak bean, the famous Indonesian Exotic coffee produced from the digestive process of the civet (a type of wild Sumatran rodent), so decided he would try and replicate it. Thanks to nature and her biological processes, what once appeared to be a pest, has turned itself into a partner as a bird that naturally selects the highest quality coffee beans.
As the Jacu has no stomach, just gizzards and intestines, as soon as it swallows, processes and expels the bean it takes on the appearance of peanut brittle. The coffee bean becomes the size of a seed, once the pulp is removed. The residue of the Jacu, dry and odourless, is separated from the coffee by hand and laid out to dry for two weeks, to then be processed.
Production is small, between 900kg and one tonne per year, and is almost exclusively exported to the USA and Europe. As far as its aroma and taste is concerned, according to specialists, the Jacu Bird is a coffee of great complexity and lightness, resembling a liquor.