5 Best Specialty Coffee Shops in Rio
Perhaps coffee is underappreciated in Rio because it’s so plentiful. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee, but both the selection and the presentation of coffee you’ll find in Rio is not like anything you will find in Australia. Coffees here are cafezinhos, small, potent, highly sugary and with no milk. A cafezinho is taken standing up at a lanchonete or on a work break in the office in tiny medicine cups filled from an unseemly plastic cylinder. But like so many other cities around the world specialty coffee cafes are starting to pop up.
Here is a list of 5 cafes we have researched and think are the best in Rio.
At peak times (between 12 p.m.–2 p.m.) things can get crazy: huge lines will form in front of each La Marzocco (one for espressos only, the other for cappuccinos—their only two coffee options). Once a month, they’ve started promoting all-day events with the goal to familiarize customers with specialty coffee. The last one was focused on coffee bean quality and getting to know the coffee offered in the market, and they had 500 people participate. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to pay them a visit, how about this: Curto takes a no-price approach to their espresso drinks. They display their operational and material costs on a blackboard, and leave the pricing up to you—you pay what you think it was worth. I hope they won’t mind me saying I think it’s worth a lot.
Rua São José, 35, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20010-020, Brazil
In a charming alleyway in Largo do Machado sits the tiny Café Secreto, founded in September 2015. Secreto is conveniently close to Largo do Machado subway station, and less than a minute away from its beautiful church, Nossa Senhora da Glória. Gabriela Ribeiro, the founder, carefully prepares espresso drinks and other brew methods (Hario V60, Kalita, and AeroPress), and sources the tasty food options such as sourdough bread, pães de queijo, cookies, and cakes.
Rua Gago Coutinho, 6, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22221-070, Brazil
Copacabana now has one more reason to celebrate, besides its beautiful beach: Sofá Café, from the homonymous São Paulo cafe/roastery, is now in Rio too. It is located a block away from the Cardeal Arcoverde subway station, or, if you are coming through the beach, just make a turn on Rodolfo Dantas street—it will be on the next corner. Also, if you are feeling fancy, Sofá is located in the block right behind the legendary Copacabana Palace Hotel.
The beans used at Sofá come from the São Paulo roastery twice a month. The coffee options available, besides espresso, are Hario V60, syphon, French press, and Chemex. They serve many breakfast-like food options and sandwiches that make for a quick and filling lunch.
Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, 300, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22020-001, Brazil
Kraft Café is located just a block away from Posto 10, Ipanema Beach. Duncan Hay and his wife, Priscila Hay, run Kraft with a focus on brunch-like food options, healthy juices and snacks, and mindfully sourced coffee. The beans are roasted by Duncan Hay, who learned the craft from a friend in his native Australia. Unlike his friend, who has to wait for weeks for his coffee to arrive from Brazil—subject to import taxes and customs delays—Hay is just hours away from the source. He often gets coffee delivered straight from farms and co-ops in Minas Gerais to his roastery located in Cosme Velho, a Rio neighborhood right behind the famous Christ Statue. Duncan Hay is proud of serving flat whites with carefully sourced fresh milk as well (the source he won’t reveal).
Rua Aníbal de Mendonça, 55, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22410-050, Brazil
Bastarda is a cafe, but also a gathering point for Rio’s cycling community. Located in the Horto region, it’s an accessible point for those who need to fill up before a ride, or those who just finished their daily rides in nearby Jardim Botânico Park. Its owner, Marcos Leta, is a diligent rider himself. Being an entrepreneur and founder of a popular Brazilian all-natural juice brand, he felt the lack of a place to get a good coffee in Rio, but where one could also feel comfortable enough to share personal stories and experiences—in his own words. Bastarda is a fraternizing hub close enough to riders they can always come whenever they feel they want to be in their own community.
Rua Von Martius, 325, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22460-040, Brazil