As a dedicated home barista, I love trying and comparing coffees from around the world. Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world, but I wanted to know if it was the best.

Colombian coffee is regarded as some of the best in the world, so I decided to compare the two and see which South American coffee giant would come out on top.

In this guide, I'll give you the complete Brazilian coffee vs Colombian coffee breakdown so you can see how they compare.

How Different Are The Tasting Notes?

Brazilian and Colombian coffee have similar flavor profiles but with a few distinct differences. The flavor profiles of both coffee bean types will vary depending on the growing region

Brazilian coffee is sweet, bold, and full-bodied. It has chocolate and nutty notes, with hints of spices.

You may also find notes of honey depending on the growing region. It typically has a heavier body and more traditional flavor. It’s best for those who like strong-tasting dark roasts.

Colombian coffee is sweet, bold, and medium-bodied. It also has chocolate and nutty notes but with a fruity finish.

It's lighter than Brazilian coffee, with more acidity and complexity. This coffee is better for those who enjoy fruity notes and unique flavors.

Aroma Differences

The aromas of Brazilian and Colombian coffee are surprisingly different, showing how their flavor profiles differ.

Brazilian coffee has an intense aroma. It’s typically dark and earthy, with detectable traces of chocolate, nuts, and spices.

Colombian coffee has a rich aroma but with more delicate notes. You can smell the citrus and soft fruit flavors, as well as the caramel notes.

Brazilian coffees have a dark aroma that traditional coffee lovers will enjoy. If you prefer lighter roasts and more complexity like I do, you’ll prefer Colombian coffees.

Growing Regions - Climate, Soil and Conditions

Colombia has the ideal growing conditions for Arabica coffee beans.

It has fertile volcanic soil, tropical temperatures, and high-altitude areas that produce high-quality Colombian coffee beans.[1]

There are 3 main areas for growing coffee in Colombia:

  • South: high altitude produces light, zesty, and unique flavors that are used by many specialty coffee brands.
  • North: The coffee beans are shade-grown nearer sea level and have deeper notes of chocolate, nuts, and caramel.
  • Central: a lot of local Colombian coffee Colombia production in this area. The beans have a medium body, balanced flavor, and mellow acidity.

Brazil has coffee-growing regions across the country covering over 27,000 square kilometers. Most Brazilian coffee plantations are family-run and most coffee grown in Brazil is at low altitudes.

Brazil produces good coffee, but the Colombian growing regions are superior.

Acidity Levels – Which Is Higher?

Acidity in coffee provides some of the lighter, more unique coffee flavors, and there’s a noticeable difference in the acidity levels of Colombian and Brazilian coffee.

Brazil produces low-acid coffee, and as a result, it has a more straightforward flavor profile.

Colombian coffees tend to have a higher acidity than coffee from Brazil or other coffee-producing countries in South America.

The high acidity gives Colombian coffee light, fruity flavors that a true coffee lover will enjoy, but it may not be suitable for those sensitive to acidity.[2]

Caffeine Levels – Which Is Higher?

Brazilian coffee tastes strong, but it actually has fairly low caffeine levels. This is because a lot of coffee is made with bean varietals that contain less caffeine (like Bourbon).[3]

Some also include Robusta beans, which are naturally lower in caffeine.

Colombian coffee isn’t exactly strong, but it’s higher in caffeine than Brazilian coffee. 

This is because it’s made entirely from Arabica beans that are higher in caffeine.

Colombian is the best choice if you want a stronger caffeine kick from your cup of coffee.

Still, it varies between brands as some use single varietals with a lower caffeine content (including the Bourbon variety used in Brazil).

Roast Levels – How Do They Compare?

The roast level of your coffee beans will impact the flavor almost as much as the origin of the bean and brewing methods used.

Colombian beans tend to be best as medium roasts or dark-medium roasts. Brazilian coffee works well as a dark roast or medium roast.

This matches the mellow and balanced flavor profile of the coffee and makes Colombian coffee really easy to drink.

The mild, balanced nature of the coffee beans means that dark roasted beans won't become overly bitter and will enhance the deeper flavors of the coffee.

They can even be used for French roast coffee.

If you enjoy darker coffees, you'll prefer Brazilian beans. If you like lighter, less harsh coffee, you'll prefer coffee from Colombia.

Certifications – Is There a Winner?

Brazilian coffee is graded based on the number of defects in a 300g sample. A number is then attached to the coffee; the lower the number, the better the coffee.

Group 1 Brazilian coffees (some of the best coffee in the world) are then labeled either fine cup (soft) or good cup (hard). Generally, only the Group 1 soft cup coffee is exported.

Colombian coffee is graded based on the size of the beans. The larger the bean, the higher the quality because it's had more time to grow and produce coffee flavors.

The largest beans are Supremo (graded 17), and the smallest are Excelso beans. The Supremo beans are usually exported.

There's no real winner here in terms of quality, and Colombian and Brazilian producers are head and shoulders above some other countries.

Price For Consumers?

The cost of a cup of coffee will vary, so I prefer to look at the average price to buy beans yourself.

1kg of Brazilian coffee beans usually costs $18-$35, though some brands cost a lot more.

1kg of Colombian coffee beans typically costs $20-$50. Again, some blends will cost more, and it varies depending on the brand and volume you’re buying.

Generally, Colombian coffee is more expensive because it’s 100% Arabica beans that need more resource-intensive farming.

Brazilian beans are also more often sold as blends of Arabica and Robusta beans that are lower in price.


Brazilian Coffee: Learn About This Popular Bean!

Brazilian coffee started slowly, and until the late 1700s, few Brazilian beans were exported.

However, the Brazilian coffee-growing industry grew rapidly and by 1820, over 30% of the world's coffee was made up of Brazilian beans.

Brazil remains the dominant coffee-producing country, with Brazilian beans making up over 35% of all coffee.

Brazilian coffee is:

  • Smooth and rich-tasting. Full-bodied, with chocolate, nutty flavors and a hint of spice.
  • Heavier and sweeter than other South American coffees.
  • Low acidity.

The combination of growing and processing (including the unique pulped natural method that isn’t used in other countries[4]) is why coffee drinkers love Brazilian coffee.


Colombian Coffee: Learn About This Exquisite Bean!

Colombian coffee history dates back to the 17th Century when Jesuit Priests and Spanish settlers arrived.

They planted Arabica coffee beans across the country, and it was quickly adopted by Colombian farmers.

Now, Colombian beans are some of the best in the world.

Colombian single-origin coffee is:

  • Sweet, smooth, and medium-bodied, with chocolate and caramel notes, nutty flavors and a fruity finish.
  • Easy to drink with a balanced flavor profile and no bitterness - the perfect morning brew.
  • Higher quality than beans produced by coffee-growing countries because of the higher elevations and fertile volcanic soil.

This, combined with the experience of the Colombian coffee farmers, creates amazing coffee.


Related Brazilian Vs Colombian Coffee Questions

Why is Brazilian coffee so expensive?

Brazilian coffee beans have become more expensive because of increased farming costs. Plus, climate change is causing more extreme weather conditions in Brazil, leading to crop shortages and pushing up coffee prices.[5]

Is Brazilian or Colombian coffee better for making espresso?

Brazilian coffees are better for making espresso because they have a full-body low acidity. The notes of chocolate, caramel, nuts, and spice all work very well in espressos and espresso drinks.


So, Which Bean Is Best?

Colombia and Brazil have a strong reputation and produce some delicious single-origin coffees.

The main differences are the acidity and depth of flavor, but choosing between them comes down to personal preferences.

Brazilian coffee is deeper and darker, with spicy notes and less acidity. Coffee from Brazil is best for those who enjoy the taste of dark roast coffee.

Colombian coffees are lighter, more complex, fruitier, with more acidity.

Coffee from Colombia is best for those who enjoy more interesting coffee that's light, has a smooth taste, and is easy to drink.

References:

  1. https://www.bgs.ac.uk/discovering-geology/earth-hazards/volcanoes/living-with-volcanoes
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-coffee-acidic
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231797614_Caffeine_content_variation_in_single_green_Arabica_coffee_seeds
  4. https://coffee.fandom.com/wiki/Coffee
  5. https://oec.world/en/blog/post/effects-of-climate-change-on-brazilian-coffee-exports 

Karmy Widjaja

Author

Karmy Widjaja
Karmy Widjaja, holding a degree in Hospitality Administration, combines her academic background with a profound passion for the world of coffee. Her work is enriched with a wealth of insights, not only about the art of coffee making but also about the broader aspects of the coffee industry. Her quest for coffee perfection is a central theme in her engaging articles, as she continues to explore the vibrant coffee scene in Perth. And when it's time for a coffee break? Karmy's all about a laid-back flat white with almond milk – it's her go-to for a tasty coffee kick.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... flat white with almond milk.

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