Guaraná Industry

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Guaraná Industry

Guaraná industry, the production of a range of products, including a popular Brazilian beverage, based on guaraná seeds. Guaraná (hilea) seeds are found on small climbing plants (Paullinia cupana) that grow in the Maués Valley in the state of Pará or that grow wild in the tropical rain forest. Amazonian Indians invented the process of turning them into a drink. After removing the almondlike seeds from their black shell, Indians roasted and pounded them into powder. They pressed the powder into chocolate-colored disks or ten- to twelve-inch-long sticks, which they either traded or consumed in drinks. Before drinking it, Indians used the rasplike tongue bone of the pirarucu fish to file some of the pressed powder into a cup of hot or cold water.

Guaraná grew in popularity among Brazilians in the twentieth century. They believed it cured ailments such as fevers, headaches, and stomach cramps. Now sold in powdered or liquid extract form, it is the base for many other drinks. Maués Valley workers produce guaraná powder for bottlers in Rio and São Paulo, where they heavily sweeten and carbonate it before marketing it as a soft drink. Indians also work its paste into ornamental shapes, such as alligators, snakes, or birds, to sell in curio shops. By 1990, 300 tons a year were being produced for internal and external markets, but that was not nearly enough to keep up with the ever-increasing demand, especially from health-food stores in Brazil and abroad.

See alsoMedicinal Plantsxml .


Robert Southey, History of Brazil (1822).

John Hemming, Amazon Frontier (1987).

Additional Bibliography

Stasi, Luiz Claudio di, and Clélia Akiko Hiruma-Lima. Plantas medicinais na Amazônia e na Mata Atlântica. São Paulo: Editora UNESP, 2002.

Van Straten, Michael. Guarana: The Energy Seeds and Herbs of the Amazon Rainforest. Saffron Walden, England: C.W. Daniel Co., 1994.

                                         Carolyn Jostock