From the Field: The Situation in Brazil
Intercontinental Coffee Trading CEO Lisa Colon and Vice-President Jason Remmer recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Brazil. During their time in Brazil Ms. Colon and Mr. Remmer toured several estates and had the opportunity to speak with several of our suppliers, and their findings should prove interesting and valuable to coffee roasters.
Of particular note is the shortage of 17/18 screen size Arabica coffees from desirable regions of the country. Primarily as a result of dry conditions during January-February of this year disrupting cherry development, 17/18 screen size beans are a significantly smaller percentage of the overall crop than normal. This condition will continue to be in effect throughout the year, until the new crop season begins in October 2016.
What does mean for roasters? To begin with, it should be noted that intrinsic quality has not been impacted, only bean size. 17/18 coffees are much in-demand and will see significant spikes in price as a result of their scarcity this year – when they are available at all.
However, Ms. Colon and Mr. Remmer returned from Brazil impressed by the overall quality of offerings available. Until the new crop begins arriving in October of next year, our recommendation is to focus on the following:
- 16/18 screen – Composed of 40 % screen 16, 35% screen 17 and 25% screen 18.
- 14/16 screen – Standard and widely available.
It is important to note that there is no presumed relationship between screen size and quality – 17/18 coffees can be outstanding, but they are not inherently better than smaller screen sizes. Based on conversations with producers and first-hand cuppings, ICT’s view is that the best values in Brazilian coffee for the next year will be in the smaller screens. 2015 crop 14/16 and 16/18 coffees are as good as any coffees we have seen out of Brazil in recent years.