The History of Coffee in Brazil
Love and Theft: Francisco de Melo Palheta
Legend has it that in 1727, Sergeant Major Francisco de Melo Palheta was dispatched to settle a land dispute between French and Dutch Guiana. He arrived in Cayenne intent on smuggling out the coveted coffee plants that were so closely guarded. He set his eyes on the Governor of Cayenne’s wife, Madame D’Orvilliers. At the closing banquet, his amorous exploits paid off, as she handed him a bouquet containing the seedling that would become the progenitor of the Brazilian coffee industry.
Vale do Paraiba
The Paraiba Valley became the center of coffee production in Brazil. Policies of deforestation and slave labor brought increased production at a heavy cost.
Immigration and Coffee Migration
The abolition of slavery in 1888 along with favorable immigration policies led to a new class of small-scale coffee producers. Coffee moved from the now-poor soils of the Paraiba Valley to São Paulo, Parana, and new areas of Minas Gerais.
Research and Technology
Research institutions such as the Instituto Agronomico de Campinas (IAC) increased plant vigor, disease and pest resistance, and productivity. Advances in mechanical harvesting and post-harvest technologies have led to increased productivity as well as increased coffee quality.
Specialty Coffee in Brazil
In the 1990’s a movement in Brazil began. The Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association was formed, and standards were developed in Brazil’s internal market to regulate coffee production and quality. Through competitions such as the Cup of Excellence diverse regions such as Piata, Araponga, Vale da Grama, Piraju, and Carmo de Minas have established themselves as unique micro-climates capable of producing world class coffees.