Cafezinho - Guide To The Famous Brazilian Coffee Drink

Cafezinho – Guide To The Famous Brazilian Coffee Drink

Last updated on October 27th, 2023 at 14:17

A Cafezinho, for coffee lovers and anyone visiting Brazil, is something that you will not avoid; it is openly offered and much enjoyed.

This article is all about Brazil’s famous Cafezinho.

Keep reading for an excellent recipe and tips on the best beans to use.

What Is Cafezinho?

Cafezinho is the traditional Brazilian coffee drink. It is served all day every day! Due to the coffee usually being brewed with regular or low quality coffee beans, locals like it with a lot of rapadura (unrefined cane sugar) to dampen the bitterness.

It is common for a little food snack to be served with it, with a small cookie being common.

Visitors to the South American nation get amazed with the fantastic Brazilian hospitality and how readily it is offered and frequently drunk.

While enjoyed black traditionally, Cafezinho can have milk or cream added to lighten the taste and make the texture thicker.

What Is Cafezinho
A Cafezinho

Read: Brazilian coffee recipe

Cafezinho And The Cultural Relevance In Brazil

Despite coffee being strongly associated with Brazil and the country being by far the world’s largest exporter of coffee, currently exporting twice as much as second place Vietnam, coffee is not native to either country.

It was brought to Vietnam by the French colonialists as a cash crop, an idea perhaps adopted from Brazil’s Portuguese colonialists who imported (illegally!) to Brazil in 1727.

…And the Brazilians took to coffee like a duck to water and became the world’s top exporter of coffee since 1840 – a position that they have not given up since and are unlikely to ever!

The much loved Cafezinho, the small black coffee drink enjoyed in the morning, afternoon and well into the evening by locals. The way in which it is openly and abundantly offered makes it a colloquial synonym for welcome.

No matter where you are, you will be offered, abundantly offered, a coffee in Brazil.

The second you enter a Brazilian home “Cafezinho”, waiting for an appointment, a job interview you will be offered.

Even if and when you are deep in details of a business deal, coffee will appear from nowhere and the conversation will change from business to personal, casual conversation.

Some oddities that you will find is they just ask you if you want a cafezinho and don’t wait for an answer, and that little coffee will appear anyway.

Go shopping in the upmarket shopping malls and boutiques. Yep, there will be someone there with a tray and putting a Cafezinho in your hand – and only asking you out of politeness if you wanted one!

At coffee shops they are enjoyed with tasty little cookies or orange peels dipped in sugar.

Cafezinho With Cookie
Cafezinho With Cookie

What Does Cafezinho Taste Like?

Cafezinho is without question an acquired taste. It is a strong coffee and the brewing method makes it very sweet, a lot sweeter than a shot of espresso or a regular coffee with a weaker taste than an espresso shot.

It is thick and has a semi-silky mouthfeel with a lot of Brazilians enjoying it with milk or cream to tone down the strong taste.

The heavy use of rapadura is to hide the bitterness of a large amount of coffee used to brew it.

Cafezinho Recipe

A Cafezinho is easy to make, very easy to make. Be sure to make it with rapadura, unrefined cane sugar and, better still, unrefined brown cane sugar to bring out sweet caramel notes. At Latte Love Brew we encourage you to use the chefs principle and use the best ingredients. 

It is a very easy coffee to make and enjoy.

Ingredients Required

  • 4 Teaspoons of rapadura or unrefined brown cane sugar.
  • 4 cups of filtered water.
  • 4 heaped teaspoons of Brazilian coffee.
  • Milk or cream (optional).
  • Paper, cloth or metal filter.

Step 1: Heat Your Water And Add Sugar

It is very easy to overheat your water and end up with burnt coffee or one that is more than what it should be. The importance of sticking to the correct temperature ranger is often overlooked.

Keep your water within the 92C to 96C (195F to 205F), Lower than 92C (195F) you will end up with a sour coffee. With a Cafezinho aim for the upper end of the temperature limits.

If you don’t have a digital thermometer, let your water cool for 25 to 30 seconds before adding your coffee.

Heat your water until it is almost boiling, add your 4 teaspoons of rapadura and stir well.

Step 2: Coffee Time

Take your saucepan with your water and sugar mix, and let it cool off 25 to 30 seconds to ensure it is at the ideal temperature.

If you have a digital thermometer, ensure your water is no hotter than 96C (205F).

Add your 4 heaped teaspoons of coffee and stir well for 20 to 25 seconds.

Step 3: Filter Your Coffee

To enjoy your Cafezinho coffee in the authentic Brazilian way, use a cotton cloth sock filter. It is a common method of coffee filtration used in South America.

It is simply a cotton flannel with one end closed and the other open, hence the term coffee sock. They are also known as filter socks.

Use one and use a holder and filter your coffee through it and let it drip into your cup of coffee.

A quick word about coffee and coffee filters.

No matter what you change in your coffee recipe, change one thing, and it will alter how your coffee will taste. Change the sugar or sweetener, change the taste of your coffee.

It is the same with which filter that you use.

  • Paper Filter: Filters all coffee oils, clean crisp taste.
  • Metal Filter: Filters no coffee oils, full-bodied and full flavored.
  • Cotton Cloth Filter: Filters some coffee oils, balance between paper and metal filters.

Personally I prefer metal filters, but please do try it the traditional way as it is more authentic Brazilian.

Step 4: Serve And Enjoy

Cafezinho is enjoyed as a black coffee traditionally; try it this way to start with. You can also add milk or cream as required.

Making Cafezinho With A French Press

If you love using a French press, you can break the rules as far as making a traditional Cafezinho and use it.


Weigh 50 grams of coarsely ground coffee grounds. And measure 500ml (500 grams) of water.

For the recipe we are using a stronger than normal coffee to water ratio for a French press coffee 1:10 ratio for a Cafezinho is better than a 1:12 since it is a strong coffee. You can even try a 1:8 ratio.

Boil your water and let it cool for 30 seconds to ensure it is not too hot for brewing coffee.

Add freshly ground coarse coffee grinds, use Brazilian coffee for more authentic results.

Pour your hot water into a container in which you can add the 4 teaspoons of rapadura and mix well.

Add your coffee grounds to the bottom of your French press. Shake it to ensure even distribution.

Slowly add your hot water, just covering the coffee and let it bloom (de gas) for 20-25 seconds and then continue to pour your hot water.

When you have poured all your water, stir gently for a minute and depress the plunger until it is just below the water line.

Let your coffee brew for 3 to 4 minutes and then push the plunger down to the bottom and trap and filter all the grounds.

Serve and enjoy your Cafezinho.

Once you have finished brewing, and you want an extra Cafezinho it is important to decant your coffee from your French press as it will continue to brew and will eventually become over brewed and taste bitter.

What Is The Best Brazilian Coffee Beans For A Cafezinho?

When making a traditional Brazilian coffee, it is best that you do what the locals do and use coffee beans from Brazil.

If you want a particular stand out coffee, use specialty grade single origin beans. This, though, is not a must-do thing for a Cafezinho.

For a matter of quality, use whole beans and grind them immediately before brewing.

Here are some beans that I suggest that you try out:

  • Brazil Peaberry By Volcanica: A rich full flavored coffee grown on a dead volcano and mineral-rich volcanic soil.
  • Yellow Bourbon By Volcanica: A rare coffee from the Arabica Bourbon species, produces a unique taste.
  • Pilao Coffee Traditional Roast: The dominant coffee brand in Brazil, affordable. Enjoyable and make a great Cafezinho. One of the most popular coffees in Brazil, very affordable and makes a great Cafezinho.
  • Coopers Cask Brazilian Espresso Cremoso: A quality coffee from the world’s largest producer. Has notes of cherry, orange and brown sugar.
  • Peet’s Coffee Brazil Minas Naturais: Peet’s always make their way on to a list due to the quality and consistency. Fruit and nutty with tones of chocolate. Very pronounced coffee.
  • Café Caboclo ‘Torrado e Moido’: This is another everyday coffee that, like Pilao coffee, is much loved by Brazilians. Not a special coffee but it is good to enjoy coffee the way the Brazilians enjoy it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cafezinho

How Do Brazilians Take Coffee?

Brazilians like to drink their Cafezinho coffee black and sweetened with rapadura, an unrefined sugar cane in what might seem like a tiny cup for most.

Typically, the coffee cup is 4 ounces (120 ml) to 6 Ounces (180 ml). It is often enjoyed with a small cookie or an orange peel coated in sugar.

Although a traditional Cafezinho is taken black, you will find it common for Brazilians to add milk or creamer.

Why Is Brazilian Coffee So Good?

Brazilian coffee has a great reputation due to a large amount of their coffee being naturally processed. There are two types of natural processing used in Brazil, dry processing, which Brazil boasts being one of the few countries with the perfect weather conditions for using this method due to a long dry season with an abundance of sunshine.

Where Is Brazil Coffee From?

Brazilian coffee is grown and cultivated in 14 of their 27 Federal States. The top producing states are Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Bahia, Rondônia and Paraná are the main coffee producing states.

The coffee producing land area in Brazil is approximately the size of Belgium.

Why Does Brazilian Coffee Taste Different?

Brazilian coffee tastes different due to the natural processing methods used and the country producing various types of Arabica variety coffee beans. Most countries produce only Arabica typica, but Brazil produces Bourbon, Acacia, Catuai and Mundo Novo are others that are also produced.

And when naturally processed they create a clean fruity flavor profile that is less acidic.

What Coffee Is Famous In Brazil?

The coffee drink that is the most famous in Brazil is available in any coffee shop is the Cafezinho. It’s a hot coffee that is taken black and translates to little coffee.

The most famous coffee beans are undoubtedly Bourbon Santos. It is known for being the best coffee from the South American nation with most grown in Minas Gerais and São Paulo.

Bourbon Santos is arguably the best coffee Brazil has to offer. Bourbon Santos coffee is known for its smooth and mild flavors, and is often described as nutty and sweet. Most of these beans are grown in São Paulo or Minas Gerais.

What Is Cafezinho In Brazil?

Cafezinho is a very common and traditional small, strong, thick black coffee beverage that is served all over Brazil. It’s made by adding rapadura, a Brazilian unrefined sugar, to black coffee as it is being brewed. It is commonly enjoyed as a black coffee, but drinkers are known to add a splash of cream or milk to their cafezinho. 

Where Is Cafezinho From?

Cafezinho is from Brazil where it is enjoyed by locals all over the nation. The literal translation is small coffee. It is customary to be offered the drink when you enter a Brazilian home, awaiting business or a job interview. 

Did Brazil Invent Coffee?

No, coffee was not invented in Brazil. In fact, it was brought to Brazil as a cash crop from French Guiana by the Portuguese Lieutenant Colonel. Francisco del Melo Palheta. Coffee has its origins in Ethiopia. 

Final Thoughts – Cafezinho

Know you know all about Cafezinho and what the top beans are to make a great traditional Brazilian coffee you can go right ahead and make in two different ways.

Which one did you try?

Join our online coffee community and share your experience, images and thoughts with the community. Tell yur fellow coffee lovers how you make and enjoy your Cafezinho! Find us on Facebook/Meta.

Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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