São Paulo is a vibrant metropolis that’s home to over 20 million people. In fact, it’s one of the world’s largest cities, but how did it grow so much? Yes, you’re right – coffee does have something to do with it.
The state of São Paulo has always been one of Brazil’s main coffee-producing regions, and it’s been a major factor in the expansion of the city.
Yet as specialty coffee shops spread over the city, the old love story between São Paulo and coffee is being reinvented. We’ve picked five of them for you to sample.
Why These Five?
With so many fantastic cafés to choose from in São Paulo, it’s difficult to pick the best ones.
We’ve simply chosen a small selection of our favourites to give you a great feel for the specialty coffee scene in this lively city.
If you visit any one of them, you’ll be sure to find friendly staff, a warm atmosphere, and, of course, sublime coffee.
1. Isso é Café
Isso é Café is run by the producer of the coffee plantation Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (FAF), and boy does it maintain their high standards.
It’s located in ‘Mirante 9 de Julho’ (one of the city’s newest cultural spots), and is only a few steps from busy Paulista Avenue and the São Paulo Museum of Art. The building was closed for 76 years, but it’s now been refurbished and plays host to all kind of cultural events.
Make sure to try Felipe Croce’s elegant and refreshing favourite – the Gold Brew. It’s made with the house’s cold brew, mead and ice and is served in a whisky glass. The mead is even made from FAF’s honey.
But don’t go in a hurry – this place won’t let you leave easily. Grab a coffee and enjoy the beautiful view of the city centre.
Isso é Café serves a blend of quality coffee, architecture, design and good music.
|Where||Rua Carlos Comenale, S/N|
|Style||Urban and beautiful|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco Strada|
|Grinder||Mahlkonig K30 (espresso) and Mahlkonig EK43 (filter)|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso, Kalita Wave and a variety of beans from Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (FAF) and its partner farms|
|Must-Try Drink||The famous Gold Brew|
|Food||Cakes, blueberry muffins, cheesecake, pão de queijo (a literal translation for this Brazilian delicacy would be “cheese bread”), and some breakfast options|
|Retail Offerings||A variety of roasted beans from FAF, mugs, the farm’s organic honey and little coffee plants in enamel mugs|
ACafezinho on its way to making somebody’s day.
2. Coffee Lab
Coffee Lab is a traditional café, barista school and sensory lab located in Vila Madalena – a trendy neighborhood famous for its bars and nightlife. But as soon as you enter, you’ll quickly forget about the world outside. Take some time to relax and enjoy the smell of fresh roasted coffee.
The best thing about Coffee Lab is that your coffee is prepared directly on your table. After choosing one (or many) of their beans and brewing methods, one of their fantastic baristas will come over and show you how it’s done. It’s a great opportunity to chat with them and improve your brewing skills.
If you want to go for something other than an espresso or filter, ask for one of their rituals and let the barista guide you through a mini sensory lesson.
Oh, and a word of warning: be prepared to fall in love with their coconut flan with coffee syrup.
Inside or outside? You will want to try both at Coffee Lab.
|Where||Rua Fradique Coutinho, 1340 – Vila Madalena|
|Style||Intimate and atmospheric; the outdoor plants add a nice touch|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco FB80|
|Coffee Offerings||A large variety of beans selected and roasted by Coffee Lab’s team|
|Must-Try Drink||Shakerato – an espresso over sparkling water with lemony notes|
|Food||Lots of cakes, Brazilian goodies, and – of course – their wonderful coconut flan|
|Retail Offerings||The full coffee-lover’s arsenal: roasted beans, brewers, filters, mugs, grinders and books|
You can see into the kitchen in Coffee Lab. There are no barriers between the customers and the baristas.
3. The Little Coffee Shop
In a charming little corner of the Pinheiros neighborhood, you’ll find a special lady serving really good coffee. We’re talking about Flavia Pogliani – an experienced barista who’s turned a once ordinary corner into a meeting point for coffee lovers, neighbours and lucky passers-by.
The beans and roast profile have been developed exclusively for The Little Coffee Shop and are roasted by the nearby Sofa Café.
You could easily grab coffee to go, but it’s more of a coffee to stay kind of place. Chat with the visitors at the counter and enjoy your delicious brew.
You’ll definitely be drawn to the smell of coffee as you pass by The Little Coffee Shop. Credit: Juliana Ganan.
|Where||Rua Lisboa, 357 – Pinheiros|
|Style||Easy-going and friendly|
|Espresso Machine||Nuova Simonelli Appia Compact|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso and drinks|
|Must-Try Drink||The espresso is the customer’s favourite – and some would say it’s the best in town|
|Food||The lemon panna cotta and chocolate mousse are the highlights of the menu|
|Retail Offerings||Brewers, filters, bottled cold brew, and the house coffee in the form of roasted or freshly ground beans|
Simple and functional – why complicate things? Credit: Juliana Ganan.
Since its opening in 2014, Beluga has grown into one of city’s hippest coffee spots. Industrial and minimalist architecture give the place a clean, modern look, while the glass front keeps the street connected to the inside of the shop.
But it’s not all about the visuals. The light interior highlights the real star of the show – the coffee. Their selection of Brazilian beans will please all sorts of palates. Pick up an espresso or a filter and chill out. Or, to cool you down on warm summer days, choose the espresso tônica.
Beluga in a rare quiet moment.
|Where||Rua Doutor Cesário Mota Júnior, 379 – Vila Buarque|
|Style||Cosmopolitan and urban – just like São Paulo|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco GB5|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso and filter (V60 and AeroPress). The beans are roasted by Wolff Café|
|Roaster||Espresso Tonica – espresso, tonic water and lots of ice|
|Food||Pies, cakes, brownies, sandwiches and other goodies|
|Retail Offerings||Brewers, filters, roasted beans, magazines, pottery and mugs|
Espresso Tônica: perfect for Brazilian summers.
5. King of the Fork
If you’re into coffee and bikes, then you’ve just found a place to call your own. The owners met when cycling and decided to open King of the Fork (KoF) in the Pinheiros neighborhood. The charming building has a cosy garden and is situated right next to a bike lane.
But don’t worry if you’re not a bike person. However you choose to get there, you’ll immediately feel at home. The beans are selected and roasted by Wolff Café exclusively for this little place, and I recommend that you try one of their cold coffees.
Spoiler: the hardest part will be choosing between the front table or the backyard. It’s a great excuse for you to come back and try both.
Outside or inside? One of the biggest dilemmas at King of the Fork. Credit: Piero D’Ávila.
|Where||Rua Artur de Azevedo, 1317|
|Style||Cosy and inviting|
|Espresso Machine||Nuova Simonelli Aurelia|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso, drinks and filter (V60)|
|Must-Try Drinks||Cold drinks are a must here – try the iced coffee or a cold latte|
|Food||Cookies, cakes, sandwiches, toasts and much more|
|Retail Offerings||Bike accessories, brewers, filters, grinders and house beans|
Looks like there’ll be some smiles ahead! Credit: Studio Alaska.
With such a variety of high-quality cafés, it’s clear that the specialty coffee scene in São Paulo is thriving. So what are you waiting for? Dive in with some great coffees.
Edited by H. Paull.
Feature Photo Credit: Nicolas de Camaret, Flickr
All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance. Perfect Daily Grind believes in furthering debate over topical issues within the industry, and so seeks to represent the views of all sides.
Perfect Daily Grind.