The Best Coffee Houses in São Paulo

Coffee | © Quentin Meulepas/Flickr
Lise Alves

They say that you can find at least one pharmacy on every street in São Paulo and a cup of coffee in every street block. Places for you to drink coffee are plentiful in the city, but if you really want a good cup of coffee, you sometimes have to look a little harder. To help you out, we have scouted five establishments that make a great cup of coffee and, to go along with it, great cakes and pastries.

1. Urbe Café

Bar, Cafe, Coffee Shop, Tea

Urbe Café
© Lufe Gomes

Located in what has long been known as the heart of the underground culture in São Paulo, the Urbe Café in the Baixo Augusta region is a meeting point for several tribes. During the late night hours, clubbers from nearby nightclubs and indie theatergoers often stop by for a cup of coffee. During the day the coffee shop caters to those working on Avenida Paulista and in nearby skyscrapers. During the weekend the rich coffee blend can be accompanied by a delicious banana bread or mini paes de queijo. The house was one of the first to introduce the concept ‘from field to cup’ with the owner coming from a family of coffee farmers and controlling the entire production chain.

2. Freak Café

Bakery, Cafe, Coffee Shop, Contemporary, Tea

Freak Café
© Nathalia Leite

The Freak Café sits in a quiet corner of the Moema neighborhood and specializes in gourmet coffees. The café offers a variety of salads, and its specialty is the the paninis – large, pressed pão de queijo packed with a variety of fillings, including cheese, ham, turkey breast and vegetarian options. For those who like sweets, homemade cakes, pies, croissants, brownies and petit gateaux fill the store’s window displays. When the weather gets a bit colder, customers are always sure to find steaming soups, teas and even chocolate fondues on offer.

3. Octavio Café

Bakery, Bar, Bistro, Cafe, Pastelaria, Contemporary, Tea

Octavio Café
© courtesy of Octavio Café

One of the gourmet coffee houses you must try while you are in town is the Octavio Café, located in Itaim Bibi. Unlike other coffee houses, Octavio’s is huge, with a vast selection of dishes and snacks, all served along with an excellent cup of coffee. Although the dishes are top-notch, the place is really known for its high-quality coffee and accompanying sweets. The breakfast at Octavio’s is somewhat of an event for those who live in the city, and you are wise to book ahead, because even with the Paulista’s busy schedule the place in the mornings is always packed. Last year they opened up a kiosk nearby at the Eldorado Shopping Mall, just for coffee and pastries.

4. La da Venda

Bakery, Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Healthy, Tea

La da Venda
© Lucas Terribili

You’ll go in because of the colorful products on sale, from teapots to cloth dolls and bandanas. But you’ll stay for the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and you’ll come back for the coffee as well as the pão de queijo and the guava cheesecake. Although La da Venda is an all-purpose coffee shop that serves full unique meals, those strolling around Vila Madalena usually stop in for the coffee and pastries in the late afternoon. The coffee is filtered individually at the customer’s table so that coffee aficionados have control of how much hot water is added, and to those who just want a good cup of coffee, the friendly waiters and waitresses will do that for you.

5. Santo Grão

Bakery, Cafe, Coffee Shop, Contemporary, Tea

Santo Grão SP
© Jeka Toyota/Flickr

The Santo Grão has a very cozy atmosphere and operates several units in São Paulo including in Oscar Freire, Vila Madalena, Higienópolis, Itaim Bibi, Moema, Morumbi and Cidade Jardim. Despite the various locations, the coffee is always good wherever you go, and its blends have won several national awards. Although in the Itaim Bibi and Jardim houses the atmosphere is almost that of a restaurant, the wide variety of coffee grains available from different producing regions never lets you forget you are in a coffee house. Here at the Santo Grão you can choose the manner of your drink’s extraction: the Japanese filter Hario or the aeropress or even the espresso.

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