Brewing Better Coffee

View Images

Last week, we went to Brazil for caffeine. No country produces more coffee than Brazil, which sits at the rare climatic intersection of cool days, warm nights, and wet soil. It’s a good business, considering the world’s ballooning appetite for the brown drink. Although producing coffee isn’t as easy as it used to be. A drought in January that eliminated about one-fifth of the year’s beans is widely thought to forecast more of what’s expected: irregular weather, unpredictable harvests, and higher prices for everyone who drinks coffee.

It’s not all bad news. Most coffee is grown by small-scale farmers with just a few hundred acres. Many of them are working with large agribusiness firms to grow more efficient coffee that needs less water. Meanwhile, middle men work to increase the quality, making sure that coffee—which is sold as a commodity—is constantly getting better. We tried some of Brazil’s best; it turns out fresh, local coffee really does taste better.

See our reporting from Brazil here, along with photos—and our attempts to find the country’s best brew.