While there has been a growing interest in espressos and cappuccinos in Brazil's major cities just as anywhere else in the world, the traditionally brewed cafezinho still has the upper hand in this country. Brazil's symbol of welcome is generally served black, strong, and scalding hot, with lots of sugar and served in tiny cups. Cafezinho is not made in a coffee machine but boiled on a stove and as a result has a completely different taste. Let's take a look.
The Coffee Bean
Not native to Brazil (but to Ethiopia) the coffee bush came to north Brazil in the 18th century. Production quickly rose and Brazil has grown into one of the largest coffee producers in the world. Arabica and Robusta are the most popular coffee brands, with the highest quality being exported and the beans of lesser quality being used for domestic consumption.
Symbol of Hospitality
You're offered a cafezinho when entering a home and even when fueling up at gas stations. You can take it – free of charge – from a thermos on the counter after you've eaten in a basic restaurant (in upscale restaurants you generally pay for coffee). When there is one thermos, expect the coffee to be very sweet. If there are two, one is most likely sweetened with sugar and the other is plain – artificial sweeteners (adocante) will be sitting next to the thermos.
Preparing a Cafezinho
Bring water to a boil in a saucepan on a stove with a large quantity of sugar. Lower the flame, stir in finely ground coffee, and remove the saucepan from the stove. Pour the coffee through a cloth strainer (also called a coffee sock or colador in Brazil) or if you don't have a cloth filter, use a disposable paper one.
Go for Small
Cafezinho is drunk throughout the day and mostly black, although adding hot milk may be preferred at breakfast. Don't expect a mug; the addictive brew comes in demitasse cups, generally plastic although you may find china in some of the upscale restaurants. The coffee is so strong that such a small cup simply suffices for your coffee fix. Tip: the best combination with a cafezinho is a delicious pão de queijo.