Elevation: 690–820 metres (2,260–2,690 feet) above sea level
Rainfall: 900–1,550 millimetres (35–61 inches)
Temperature: 22–26°C (72–79°F)
The state of Ceará lies on the northeastern coast of Brazil, at the edge of the Brazilian Highlands. Near the coast the landscape is arid and scrubby, and most of the state’s rivers run dry during the dry season. The mountainous parts of the interior, however, are covered by moist tropical forest.
Ceará is today better known for its sandy beaches than its coffee. In the mid-nineteenth century, however, the state produced more than 2% of Brazil’s coffee, and beans from Ceará were noted for their quality. As coffee-growing spread in the state, the native forests were cleared to make way for full-sun plantations. Without tree cover, the thin soils of Ceará were rapidly depleted, leading to declining yields (Saes et al 2001). Most of the remaining coffee farms in the state disappeared in the 1960s, when the Brazilian government’s ‘Coffee Eradication Program’ encouraged farmers to switch to other crops to reduce overproduction. Today, the state’s most important agricultural products are cashew nuts and tropical fruits.
The last pocket of coffee production in the state exists in the microregion of Baturité, where smallholder farmers grow arabica under shade trees. The ‘Maciço do Baturité’ (Baturité massif) is a ‘humid island’ of Atlantic forest, located in a part of the state mostly characterised by the arid caatinga scrubland.