Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cafezinho - The Brazilian Cup of Coffee

Although Starbucks has invaded the world's largest coffee producing country, and now has shops in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Campinas, most Brazilians get their daily coffee fix from one of the millions of street-corner coffee bars, juice bars, luncheonettes or bakeries. And what they order is called a "cafezinho."

Cafezinho, in Brazilian Portuguese, means "a little coffee". A cup of cafezinho is a small, intense, and most of all, very sweet shot of black coffee. It is sometimes served unsweetened with sugar or sweetener on the side, but more often it is pre-sweetened and served that way. Whichever way it is served, a Brazilian will never drink a cafezinho unsweetened. Pure black coffee, unsweetened, is considered a barbarism, and a request for an unsweetened coffee is likely to engender stares, giggles, or pure incomprehensions.

In the most modest bars and shops, a cafezinho comes in a small plastic cup, and costs one real (about $0.50 USD). In more upmarket locations, a china cup adds to the level of sophistication (and to the price.) In a restaurant, a post-meal cafezinho is normally included free, and is not charged for.

The only exception, generally, to the "make it a cafezinho" rule is at breakfast, where most Brazilians drink coffee mixed with hot milk - often more milk than coffee. Even then, though, it must be very sweet to be drinkable, with up to three heaping spoonfuls of sugar per cup. But for the rest of the day, and into the evening, numerous cups of cafezinho keep the Brazilian nation alert and animated - it's the fuel of the culture.


  1. I drink my cafezinho with no sugar! (and some other Brazilians that I know :o). But I agree with you - extremely sweet coffee is the rule!
    Congratulations for the blog. I found it yesterday, while trying to write about "feijão carioquinha" in my recently launched blog, Authentic Brazilian Cuisine. I still have a lot to read from your posts - such a nice job!!!

  2. Oi Elisa - Parabens pelo novo blog! Eu o adicionei aos meus links aqui.

    So there do exist some Brazilians who drink their coffee black! What a surprise...kkkkk.

    Enjoy your visits to this blog, and your own blogging experience. You'll love it

  3. A friend of mine is going to be in Rio soon. Where are some small roasters he could buy beans from?

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