The Cafezinho: Exploring Brazilian Coffee Culture

by Michelle Flandreau | August 8, 2016
HOME Places The Cafezinho: Exploring Brazilian Coffee Culture

A small coffee is part of a big tradition in Brazil. Each day after lunch, Brazilians flock to coffee shops to enjoy a cafezinho or “little coffee.” The drink of choice — espresso.

“Coffee, for us, is a way that we have to celebrate and have a moment to relax every day,” said Starbucks Brazil coffee master Vivi Fonseca.

Thanks to our partners (employees) at Starbucks Brazil for producing this video.

It’s also common for the espresso to be served with a small pastry on the side, like a mini cookie or a brigadeiro, a Brazilian chocolate treat.

Photo credit: Nanda Ferreira
Photo credit: Nanda Ferreira

This long-standing afternoon ritual is not a solo venture. It’s all about community.

“It’s really see lots of groups of people going to coffee shops to have their chat, to relax, to talk about anything else and then to go back to their work,” Vivi said.

Starbucks Brazil is currently celebrating the cafezinho tradition with a special lineup of espresso drinks: Espresso Mocha, Espresso Chocolate and Espresso Doce de Leite. They’re crafted with Starbucks® Brasil Blend, made with arabica coffee from Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Bahia — key coffee-growing regions in Brazil.

Starbucks Brazil operates more than 100 stores in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Meet Vivi Fonseca

"Coffee for me is passion and life,” Vivi said.

Before joining Starbucks, Vivi worked as a lawyer in Brazil. But she says she didn’t feel fulfilled. She decided to leave her job and was faced with the daunting question: What’s next? At the time, she was dating her boyfriend (who’s now her husband) and he loved to go to coffee shops. Vivi didn’t know much about coffee back then but happily accompanied him.

“One day, we were in a coffee shop in Brazil and we decided to open our own business — a coffee shop! I was so amazed with that environment. So cozy with different coffees and a moment to relax. So I decided to open my own business. Me and him,” Vivi said.

Finally, she felt like she had a focus in life. They picked a name, developed their business plan and prepared to open their coffee shop. But something was missing.

“I said, ‘No. Wait. We have never worked in a coffee shop before. We have never had a business before. So let me work in a coffee shop first, and then we open our business, ok?’”

As Vivi began to apply for barista positions at local coffee shops, she saw Starbucks was coming to Brazil.

“I said, ‘Ah! I can’t believe it. I need to go to Starbucks.’”

Vivi was part of the first team of baristas when Starbucks opened its doors in Brazil in 2006. In the very first month, she decided she didn’t want to open her own coffee shop; she wanted to grow at Starbucks.

“Coffee has changed my life,” Vivi said.

She’s now on the operations team and is based in São Paulo. She will celebrate her 10-year anniversary with Starbucks Brazil in November.

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