Traveling along regional product routes is already a worldwide trend among food tourism activities. Brazil offers gastronomic routes throughout the country, but Minas Gerais is a must-see destination when the subject is coffee.
In the Brazilian coffee route of Minas Gerais, you can visit the producing farms, participate in activities and coffee sensory experiences, understand the production process from harvesting to grinding, and get a taste of rural life.
In this guide, we help you plan your trip through the world’s best coffees.
The importance of coffee in Minas Gerais
Brazilian coffee is a world reference. The State of Minas Gerais is the leading producer and responsible for most of the specialty coffee crops in the country. The high quality of its beans is due to a perfect combination of climate, altitude, fertile soil, and pure water.
But besides the geographical advantage for coffee production, the drink is an integral part of local life. Drinking a freshly brewed hot coffee is the best way to start the day or to finish a meal after enjoying the many delicious dishes of Minas Gerais.
That’s why the Coffee Route in Minas Gerais is the best choice for unique experiences from production to the cup!
How the coffee route in Minas Gerais is divided
The coffee route in MG can be divided into four main regions, three of which are producing regions and the capital Belo Horizonte as the commercial hub of coffee:
- Southern Minas: specialty coffee region with the best tourist infrastructure, it even has a balloon ride through the coffee fields;
- Cerrado Mineiro: the first coffee-producing region in Brazil with Denomination of Origin, but the structure for coffee tourism is still not very strong;
- Zona da Mata region: region of family and handicraft production. The Zona da Mata is the perfect destination to combine adventure tourism with coffee tourism (Pico da Bandeira is right there);
- Belo Horizonte: the commercial and urban center of coffee in the state.
How to explore the coffee routes in Minas Gerais
The state of Minas Gerais is very extensive, so we recommend that you plan each of these regions for 2 or 3-day trips.
When to go?
The best time to travel along the Minas Gerais coffee route is between May and August. Besides being harvest season in the state, this period has little rainfall, providing better rural and adventure tourism conditions.
How to get there and get around?
Nearest airports to each region on the route:
- Southern Minas: Guarulhos/SP Airport
- Cerrado de Minas: Uberlândia Airport
- Matas de Minas: Vitória airport, Espírito Santo state
- Belo Horizonte: Belo Horizonte airport
The most convenient way to explore the coffee-producing regions is by car. If you need to rent a car, our tip is to search in Rentcars that simulate the prices of the main car rental companies in the region.
If you prefer, you can reach the destinations by bus, leaving from Belo Horizonte or the main cities in Minas Gerais and neighboring states.
Important: Schedule your visit!
To do coffee tourism in Minas Gerais is essential to book the visits and tours in advance. Each region has tour operators that can take guests to the coffee farms and offer ecotourism tours.
Coffee Route: Southern Minas Gerais
São Lourenço and Carmo de Minas
The city of São Lourenço is already very touristy because it is located within the so-called “Water Circuit” and is part of the Royal Road, the largest tourist route in Brazil. But besides the thermal waters, it is an ideal destination for those who love coffee.
Coffee Experiences – What to do in São Lourenço:
- Rota do Café Especial: a program created by Unique Cafés that offers an immersion in the coffees from São Lourenço and Carmo de Minas with guided visits to the producing farms, balloon rides over the plantations, hands-on experience in the whole production process, coffee spa, and much more.
- Cafeteria Unique: specialized in specialty coffees and elected one of the 20 best coffee shops in Brazil.
- Carmo Coffees: sensory experience to taste the best coffees in the region.
In São Lourenço, be sure to taste the region’s typical sweets and visit the city’s Central Market.
Where to stay in São Lourenço:
Santa Rita do Sapucaí
Santa Rita do Sapucaí is another coffee microregion in southern Minas Gerais, favored by the mountain climate and mining topography.
With several options of coffee shops throughout the city, several brands of specialty coffees, and coffee plantations available for visits, Santa Rita do Sapucaí offers a journey through the stages of coffee production and ways of extracting the beverage, with a structure to receive tourists from all over the world.
Coffee Experiences – What to do in Santa Rita do Sapucaí
On the coffee route in Santa Rita do Sapucaí, it is worth checking out:
- Grandpa Joel’s Coffee: complete experience with a charming coffee shop in town, accommodation on the farm with a visit to the production and a tour from seed to cup;
- Fazenda M&A: coffee with history, its production started in the early 20th century, and the farm tour includes a cupping session with a special view;
- Fazenda Condado: highlighting the viewpoint of the coffee plantations;
- Cafetelier: a place to learn more about specialty coffee roasting with sensory coffee experience and tasting rituals.
Be sure to go to the coffee shops in the city: Nano Coffee Lab, Madeira Café, and Café Pazar. It is also worth a visit to Casa Erva Doce: The place combines homemade products, crafts, plants, music, bread, craft beers, and of course, coffee.
Where to stay in Santa Rita do Sapucaí:
Coffee Route: Cerrado Mineiro
The Cerrado of Minas lies between the Triângulo Mineiro and Alto do Parnaíba. The coffee from the Cerrado Mineiro has received a denomination of origin for its unique characteristics and high quality, such as high acidity, citric, fruity, or chocolate notes.
The region has several coffee-producing cities. The highlight is the municipality of Patrocínio, which holds the title of the largest coffee producer in Brazil. It is also the home of Daterra Coffee, which has already been awarded the prize for the most sustainable coffee farm in the world. If you want to learn about responsible production with high productivity, it is worth scheduling a technical visit.
Despite the importance of coffee production, unfortunately, there is not yet a well-developed coffee tourism structure in the Cerrado region of Minas. Even so, it is worth visiting the area and exploring the coffee culture on your own. Also, the Cerrado de Minas zone is an invitation to stay in beautiful farm hotels, ecotourism, and, of course, to enjoy the good local food.
The nearest airport for exploring the region is in Uberlândia, and you can find good rural hotels on the outskirts of the city.
Where to stay in and around Uberlândia
Araxá is also an excellent base to explore the Cerrado of Minas. Besides the coffee, the city is known for the Medicinal Springs and is close to the Serra da Canastra, producers of excellent cheeses.
Where to stay in the Araxá region
Coffee Route: Zona da Mata Region
The region of Matas de Minas is composed of 64 municipalities, all related to coffee, with many properties based on family and artisanal agriculture.
Coffee Experiences – What to do in Manhuaçu
Manhuaçu is considered one of the hub cities of coffee production in Brazil and features many farms open to guests. Besides coffee, Manhuaçu is 52 km from the Caparaó National Park, where the Pico das Bandeiras, the third highest peak in Brazil, is located. The region is also well known for those who practice bicycle tourism. Is there anything better than stopping for a cup of coffee between rides?
For exploring the region’s coffee, it’s worth checking out:
- Cafeteria Afir: a special place to enjoy a cup of coffee in the late afternoon, featuring tables on the terrace and a shop selling traditional regional products.
- Expedition to Pedra Dourada: offers a mix of adventure tourism and coffee, overnight camping expedition. In the middle of the trail to Pico da Pedra Dourada, the coffee break is served in a tasting session at Fazenda Klem.
- Fazenda Boa Vista: A visit to the coffee plantations and the processing of the beans, accompanied by local delicacies.
Where to stay in Manhuaçu and surroundings
Coffee Route: Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, famous for its bohemian life, has become a popular destination for coffee lovers. It currently hosts the International Coffee Week, the main national event of the market, previously held in the city of São Paulo.
This change, and more, was a key factor to drive the opening of several coffee shops with very different proposals and coffees.
Coffeehouses to go to in Belo Horizonte
- Academia do Café: A pioneer in the concept of innovative coffees in Belo Horizonte, which inspired a trend of coffee shops with premium coffees in the state capital.
- OOP Café: Stripped down and modern, it offers hot and cold options, as well as different types of extraction.
- Intelligenza: inspired by the famous American coffee shop Intelligentsia, it offers mostly local coffees and includes different preparations for cold, hot, and alcoholic coffee drinks.