When Canadians ask me about Brazil, almost the first thing they ask – after the weather, of course – is about the coffee. “It bet you get really nice coffee there!”, they’d say. When I first arrived in Canada, in the days when the only coffee we had at home was sent by my mother through the mail, I’d probably have said “oh yes, our coffee is great!”. But I have since learned otherwise.
Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer and many experts across the world vouch for the quality of its beans. And while Brazilians are avid coffee drinkers, that does not mean they have access to good coffee. Most of the best beans are reserved for export and what remains on the shelves of the supermarkets is often mixed with other stuff. Most roasters tend to burn the beans, effectively making the coffee too bitter and leading most people to over-sweeten their coffee.
Unlike in Italy, Spain or Portugal, most of our coffee is percolated rather than pulled from an espresso machine. Until a few years ago, it was served already sweetened with loads of sugar.
It was only after moving to Canada, and later traveling to France, Spain and Portugal that I have learned what really good coffee is supposed to taste like. I now know that a good espresso can be drank pure, without sugar, and it won’t taste bitter (unthinkable to any Brazilian). And that a real cappuccino has no chocolate in it. But my mother still gets bewildered whenever I call home and refuse her offers to send me ground coffee from Brazil. I’m happier buying my Brazilian coffee at Casa Açoriana, at Kensington Market.