There are few things we enjoy more than diving into another country’s coffee traditions and following the recipes for their customary coffee beverages. If you’re looking for coffee drinks steeped in centuries of culture and tradition, then Brazil — one of the largest coffee-producing and consuming countries in the world — is one of the best places to search for recipes.
Below, we’re going to discuss one of the most culturally significant coffee drinks from Brazil: cafezinho. We’ll also teach you how to make it at home, so you can enjoy a bit of Brazilian coffee culture wherever you are!
What is Cafezinho?
Cafezinho is a traditional coffee drink commonly served all around Brazil. It’s made by adding sugar or “rapadura,” Brazil’s unrefined sugar, to black coffee. Cafezinho is often served black, but it’s not unusual to see coffee drinkers add milk or cream to lighten the flavor and thicken the texture.
What Makes Cafezinho So Culturally Significant?
There’s a reason Frank Sinatra wrote the song, “There’s an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil.” Brazil has long been a coffee-loving country, and it seems the caffeinated beverage has permeated all aspects of their society.
Coffee is often used as a way to welcome visitors, to begin business transactions, and as a means of showing hospitality. The way someone offers you coffee or water when you sit down for an interview or business meeting in America is the way everyone in Brazil goes about beginning a conversation or welcoming you.
Cafezinho has long been Brazil’s coffee drink of choice, so it’s very common to see this beverage just about everywhere you go in the country.
How Do You Make It?
Whether you’re looking to welcome someone into your home in a traditional Brazilian way or you just want to try a delicious and unique coffee concoction, cafezinho will not disappoint! Let’s get into how to make it.
1. Boil water and sugar.
Begin by adding your water and sugar to the pot and placing over high heat. Bring the water to a boil.
2. Remove from heat and add coffee grounds.
Remove from heat as soon as a rolling boil is reached. Then add coffee grounds and stir for 15-20 seconds.
3. Filter the mixture.
Pour your coffee mixture through your filter.
4. Add milk or cream and serve!
If you’d like, add milk or cream to taste. Then serve immediately.
What Kind of Coffee Should I Use?
You can use any coffee you have on hand, but opting for a high-quality coffee will produce the best results. Cafe Bustelo is a good option for pre-ground coffee, as it’s fine enough to get the full flavor in a short extraction time.
The best way to make cafezinho is with freshly ground coffee. If possible, use a grinder that can produce espresso consistency from your beans. Doing so will make the most flavorful and robust coffee beverage possible.
As far as origin and roast go, the choice is yours! We prefer a single-origin coffee with a medium-dark or dark roast, as the boldness of a darker roast often brings those delicious and complex flavors that most people look for in cafezinho. We recommend Lifeboost’s tasty Nicaraguan Dark Roast.
Can I Change the Recipe?
Part of the beauty of cafezinho is in the tradition and customs surrounding the beverage. As such, we recommend not making changes to the recipe above and instead enjoying it for what it is.
However, you can make changes if you desire. Some coffee drinkers may find that the flavors are too intense, so adding more sugar or cream can help soften them a bit.
Other flavorings are sometimes added to cafezinho even throughout Brazil, so feel free to experiment with adding vanilla extract, hazelnut creamer, or even a bit of chocolate syrup to diversify the flavor. Some places in Brazil add spiced liqueur to their cafezinho, so you can experiment with cachaça — fermented sugarcane — or other flavored alcohol.
Cafezinho is a delicious coffee beverage that’s steeped in centuries of Brazilian tradition and customs. It’s as simple to make as it is tasty, so it also serves as a great introduction to making mixed coffee drinks at home. Whether you enjoy traditional cafezinho or customize the recipe to your liking, we’re confident you’ll quickly fall in love with this flavorful and robust drink.
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