Brazil may be considered a coffee capital in global eyes due to high export
and consumption numbers, but finding a good cup of brew in Rio de Janeiro can be quite a challenge, with a local preference
for small espressos with heaps of sugar. Thankfully in the city’s downtown, some wonderful coffee shops are offering a pleasant atmosphere and a good, smooth brew.
Just off the bustling main street of Rio’s busy commercial centre is a small, nondescript shopping mall that is home to one of the city’s best coffees. Taking over the end of a corridor, the most notable features of Curto Cafe
are the distinct lack of cashiers and price menu. That’s because the customer only pays what they want to pay. The owners write the shop’s expenses on the wall and calculate a sustainable price to keep the coffee shop running. There are only three products on the menu – cappuccino, espresso, and coffee beans – which allows the baristas to perfect the offering quality. The cappuccino is deliciously smooth and creamy, and the espresso has a mild, nutty flavour.
Founded by French entrepreneur Charles Auguste Cavé, the oldest pastry shop in Rio de Janeiro dates back to 1860. The high ceilings and mirrored walls add a breezy feel to Casa Cavé
, and the soft yellow and green colours mixed with intricate patterns on the floors and walls hint at its continental background. The coffee here is strong and comes in generous portions. However, it’s the desserts and pastries here that make the trip worthwhile, with an extensive menu of éclairs, pastels de nata
that taste like the real deal, and fruit strudels.
Cafe, Restaurant, Brazilian, $$$
The tall ceiling, marble details and elegant low lighting add to the splendour and wonder of this century-old coffee shop. The mirrored walls create a regal feel that befits the range of coffees and pastries on offer. Confeitaria Colombo
has a good breakfast menu that includes bread, a collection of jams and preserves, fruit, cheese and ham. The pastel de nata
here is excellent, although it’s a difficult choice to select just one dessert out of all the tasty-looking options available. The coffee is smooth, rich in flavour and comes in a generous size.
Livraria da Travessa
Cafe, Brazilian, $$$
On the second floor of this airy bookstore
is a small café that has become a popular meeting point for nearby business people or for those looking for a quiet place to drink a coffee and settle down with a good book. The coffee shop also serves a range of lunch options that include gourmet sandwiches and pasta dishes, as well as simple snack options to complement a coffee.
Rio’s city centre has quite a handful of bookstores that have embraced the coffee culture, with Livraria Cultura
as another fine example. This bookstore brand is one of the largest and most comprehensive in Brazil, with an extensive collection of national and foreign literature across all genres. The café upstairs is perfect for spending a couple of hours nestled into one of the low, comfy chairs with a good book and a cup of strong coffee. The food is an accomplished range of salads, pastries and cakes, with a great selection of hot beverages from coffees to hot chocolates. It’s a bit pricey here, but the atmosphere is factored into the cost.
On a small, narrow street away from the busy crowds is Cafeteria OK
, a small, two-storey coffee shop that maintains its traditional roots of typical Brazilian snacks, sandwiches, and drinks within a modern, clean environment. The range of coffees is extensive, from a standard espresso to cappuccinos with whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Each coffee is served with a small morsel of shop-made cake that entices customers into buying the larger slices from the counter.