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Bessie brews our Brazil Gilmar Rezende

by Georgia Folker August 31, 2021 6 min read

Bessie shares Brazil Gilmar Rezende recipes for both filter and espresso below for our Fresh Crop Exclusive!

This fortnight, our Fresh Crop journey takes us back to Brazil as we once again get to enjoy this delicious coffee from producer Gilmar Rezende.

Last time you tasted this coffee, it was accompanied by an exploration into the history of coffee in Brazil, written by my colleague Georgia. In her piece, Georgia also delved into the specifics of this coffee and the production methods used by Gilmar at his farm. She also developed a lovely recipe for Chemex. You can revisit or discover that piece here.

For this piece, I’d like to share news out of Brazil of severe frosts that have hit coffee growing regions, and how this is foreseen to affect global coffee prices.

Brazil is one of the only coffee producing countries that is currently susceptible to severe frosts, which historically occur every 6 years or so.

Mild frosts burn the leaves and kill the coffee flowers (which later turn into the coffee cherry, which contains the coffee bean). This kind of frost usually only impacts the current season’s crop.

Severe frosts, however, have a much greater and longer impact as they kill the entire tree. The only solution is to replace them with new plants, and these can take up to four years to reach commercial production levels. The impact on production levels can then be felt for as long as five years post frost.

This year, frosts in coffee growing areas in Brazil were first reported on July 1. On July 20, a very severe and sudden frost hit again. Average temperatures in Minas Gerais - where this fortnight’s Fresh Crop coffee was produced - fell as low as -1.2°C.

Experts around the world are estimating that this is the worst frost since 1994, although the full ramifications are still undetermined. Early indications suggest Brazil’s 2021/22 arabica harvest will be reduced by 10-15% (or 5-6 million 60kg sacks!).

Fortunately, a second cold front caused little additional damage to coffee crops. However, this event has already had an effect on the global coffee market, with the price of Arabica Coffee Futures skyrocketing to the highest price since October 2014 before settling somewhat.

However, price volatility is expected to continue to some extent, until we know exactly the extent of damage to this year’s crop.

But why?

Coffee Production in Brazil

Brazil accounts for almost 40% of coffee production worldwide - around 3.7 million metric tons per year!

Coffee has been Brazil’s largest export since the 1830s, when the country was producing around 30% of the world’s coffee. Around a decade later, the country became the foremost producer in the world, and it has remained as the number one coffee producing country for over 150 years.

Coffee production in Brazil further increased between the 1880s-1930s, during the ‘Cafe com Leite’ political period. At this time, Brazilian politics were largely controlled by the oligarchs in the states of Sāo Paulo and Minas Gerais. ‘Cafe com Leite’ translates as ‘coffee with milk’, and was so named after these major money-making powers in coffee (Sāo Paulo) and dairy (Minas Gerais) production. 

Such was their power that they were able to pass laws that ensure production and export could become easier, faster and more profitable. The effects of this are still felt today.

Supply and Demand: how Brazil’s harvest affects the world market

Because of the significant proportion Brazil holds of the world’s coffee production, any changes to the annual harvest in Brazil can drastically affect world coffee prices. 

When Brazil produces a large amount of coffee in any given year, this ‘oversupply’ can cause coffee prices to drop. Conversely, a significantly smaller harvest can cause global coffee prices to increase due to shortage.

The price of coffee is constantly changing, because it is traded as a commodity. Commodities are raw materials or primary agricultural products that are bought and sold on regulated markets called commodities exchanges.

One of the major commodities exchanges is the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) which is based in New York, and it owns the “Coffee C Future” or New York “C” contract for arabica coffee.

The trading price of arabica coffee on the ICE is known as the “C price” and this affects the price of all arabica coffee, which is treated as one product, regardless of origin, varietal, processing, quality or other attributes. Even the price of specialty coffee is still usually linked to the C price - with an additional ‘premium’ related to quality being paid.

The current price is supposedly the market equilibrium, or intersection point between supply and demand. In reality, things are a little less straightforward.

This is because coffee is traded on the futures market - traders are buying and selling futures contracts rather than physical coffee.

Futures contracts are legal agreements to purchase coffee at a price determined in the contract, but at a future date. This price is agreed upon based on what the price is predicted to be at the time of delivery. This involves a fair bit of guesswork.

If the C price is predicted to increase due to a weak harvest, investors will buy futures contracts today so that they can sell for a profit when the price increases in the future. Conversely, if the price is predicted to drop, traders will sell their futures contracts causing the current price to decrease.

The price of coffee is therefore not actually linked to the cost of production, nor the quality of the product, and that poses significant problems for the future viability of coffee and the livelihoods of coffee farmers across the world.

I hope this gives you some insight into the appreciation we have for our producer partners like Gilmar Rezende, and why we champion Specialty Coffee.

References and Further Reading

Wienhold, Karl. Cheap Coffee: Behind the Curtain of the Global Coffee Trade. Roast Magazine, 2021.

Perfect Daily Grind. “Rethinking The C Price: Should We Change How We Price Coffee?” Perfect Daily Grind, 2018,

Perfect Daily Grind. “Why is frost in Brazil causing global coffee prices to increase?” Perfect Daily Grind, 2021,

Sucafina Specialty. “Brazil.” Sucafina Specialty, 2021,



Recipes

I chose to brew the Brazil Gilmar Rezende with an espresso machine (espresso roast) and Moccamaster batch brewer (filter roast).

What you’ll need:

Prep:

Fold the paper filter and place in the batch brewer filter basket. Rinse it with water to get rid of any papery taste and help it to lay well in the filter cone.

Grind the coffee medium-coarse, put it into the filter in the basket and shake to level out the grinds. A general rule is 60g coffee : 1L water. Personally I prefer my batch brew lighter so I tend to use a lower dose, but some people prefer a punchier brew.

Place the basket into the holder in the machine.

Pour your 1L of filtered water into the water chamber of the brewer. I prefer to weigh the water out for ultimate accuracy!

Ensure your carafe is in place under the brewer and the base of the filter basket is open.

Brew:

Activate the power switch on the front of the brewer.

Start timing once the water hits the coffee. If you want, you can give the bed of coffee a stir in the initial blooming phase. For a 1L brew, aim for around 5-7 minute brew time.

Give the pot a swirl, serve and enjoy.

If your brew runs long or tastes bitter and stew-y, coarsen up the grind. If your brew runs short and tastes bland or watery, fine up the grind!

Espresso Recipe:

We found best results using a ratio of 1:1.7 (that is, 1g coffee to yield 1.7g espresso).

On the Slayer LP we use 21.5g of coffee and aim for a yield of 37g, however your machine and set up will determine what dose (and therefore, yield) you should aim for. Some domestic machines have 20-22g baskets, however some will only be able to hold 16-18g. Use the ratio to adjust the espresso recipe.

 

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