Nestled in the southeastern region of Brazil, Espírito Santo is a fascinating coffee-producing area with a unique story to tell. Often pronounced as "es-pee-ree-too sahn-toh," this region boasts an impressive altitude of around 800 to 1,300 meters above sea level. Interestingly, Espírito Santo is the Brazilian state with the highest percentage of Arabica coffee cultivated in family farming systems.
The history of coffee cultivation in Espírito Santo dates back to the early 19th century. It was during this time that coffee production began to gain momentum in Brazil, and Espírito Santo played a vital role in the country's coffee trade. Today, the region is the third-largest coffee producer in Brazil, contributing significantly to the country's position as the world's largest coffee producer.
The majority of coffee production in Espírito Santo is carried out by family farmers. These small-scale farmers grow their coffee on plots of land averaging 10 hectares or less. In this region, coffee farming is predominantly based on traditional methods, with a strong focus on sustainability and environmental conservation. Shade-grown coffee is common in Espírito Santo, which helps to maintain biodiversity and promote healthier ecosystems.
Although specific processing methods may vary among farmers in Espírito Santo, the predominant method used in Brazil is the natural or dry process. This involves laying out the coffee cherries to dry in the sun, which allows the fruit to ferment and imbue the beans with their distinct flavors. Once the cherries reach the desired moisture level, they are hulled to remove the dried fruit and parchment layer, revealing the green coffee beans inside. Some farmers in Espírito Santo also employ the pulped natural method, which involves removing the outer skin of the coffee cherry before drying the beans, resulting in a cleaner and more balanced flavor profile.
Coffees from Espírito Santo are known for their diverse and distinctive flavor profiles. These beans often exhibit bright and fruity notes, with a lively acidity that is characteristic of Brazilian coffees. Flavors like red fruits, berries, and tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, and passion fruit can be found in the cup. Additionally, these coffees can have a pleasant sweetness, with hints of chocolate, caramel, and nuts, and a medium to full body that adds to their complexity.
One of the most renowned farms in Espírito Santo is Fazenda Camocim, owned by farmer Henrique Sloper. This biodynamic farm has gained international recognition for its high-quality, sustainable coffees and its commitment to preserving the environment. The farm has received several awards, including the Cup of Excellence, showcasing the exceptional quality of the coffee produced in Espírito Santo.
Espírito Santo is a captivating coffee region, where traditional farming methods and a focus on sustainability result in diverse and delicious coffees. With its rich history and unique flavor profiles, it's no wonder that coffee enthusiasts worldwide are taking notice of this Brazilian gem.