Can you remember when you first fell in love with food and drink?
I was brought up on a farm in Brazil and always surrounded by coffee, so it’s part of my blood in a sense. In Brazil, there is a lot of respect for the produce that goes into our food, so a love of food and drink is almost part of our national identity. Our food is not complicated but it’s full of flavour, and it’s inspired by the melting pot of nationalities that have come to call Brazil home.
What originally brought you to the UK?
I’ve been here for about 11 years now and live in the Woldingham area on the Surrey, Kent and London border. Originally, I moved to the country to do my PhD studying genetically modified food and I was only ever planning to be here for a year, but then I met the man who is now my husband and the rest, as the English often say, is history. The UK is my home now.
When did you start Cafezinho and what was the inspiration behind it?
The idea for Cafezinho has been around for a long time, but I was finally able to officially launch my Surrey Hills roastery and coffee business at the start of 2018. I’m very privileged in that, due to my Brazilian nationality, I can direct trade with Brazilian coffee growers, where most other British coffee businesses would have to go through a middle man or importer.
Why is direct trade coffee so special?
Being able to direct trade means that not only am I able to work much more closely with the people who are responsible for growing our coffee, but I can also make sure they are properly rewarded for their incredible efforts. I go out to Brazil and visit the plantations as often as I can, often staying with the families for two or three weeks so I can really see how all the process works. Some of these plantations are more than 1,400 metres high and they really are spectacular – we have to do a lot of walking through the hills! On my last visit, I also helped to plant some new coffee trees and I love being around at harvest. It’s been amazing to see how much difference the money makes to their lives. It’s really close to my heart and I love seeing the families so happy.
What does the word ‘Cafezinho’ mean?
Loosely translated, Cafezinho means ‘coffee with friends’. It’s a social occasion, a catch up with someone special, a warm welcome. The British traditionally have their tea, but Brazilians always have our coffee. Its literal meaning is ‘small black coffee’ but that’s maybe not quite as evocative!
What’s the ‘best’ coffee in the Cafezinho range at the moment?
All of my coffees have a Q grade of more than 86, which puts them among the best in the world. I love all our specialty coffees and spend a lot of time choosing them – always looking for something extra special that celebrates how good Brazilian Arabica beans have become. If I had to pick one, then the stand out coffee at the moment for us is Flor de Outubro. This was named Brazil’s best natural coffee towards the end of 2018 and it really does have to be tasted to be believed. It is very special and is among the best you can buy publically in the UK at the moment.
How much difference is there with the flavours of your coffees?
So, so much. There are a huge number of different coffees to choose from now-a-days. I’ll sometime try up to 40 different types with a coffee farmer and I always try to make sure that each of my coffees celebrates slightly different characteristics of Brazilian coffee. Coffee is much more like wine than some people realise and the nuances are endless. So, if chocolate and almonds are your thing then try our Castanhas do Brasil but then if you like something a little zippier our Flor de Laranjeira has a focus on flowers and citrus fruits and Salade de Frutas hints at passion fruit, jackfruit, banana, cashew fruit and ashanti plum. It’s always worth trying a few different coffees to see which appeals to your palate most. You could be pleasantly surprised.
Where is the best place to buy Cafezinho coffee?
You can buy it direct from our Cafezinho website shop but we also attend a number of markets each month in Surrey and Kent, if you’d like to meet us and learn more about what we do. I am always looking to make our exclusive specialty coffees more widely available in select restaurants and coffee shops, so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have been looking to add some extra special coffees to your lists.
What are you most looking forward to about 2019 with Cafezinho?
Cafezinho may still be small but we have a truly exceptional range of coffees and the market for discerning coffee drinkers in Britain is exploding at the moment, particularly around London. I’m so confident that our coffees are among the best available in this country at the moment and I can’t wait to get more people tasting them. I do have some other big plans behind the scenes that could see our profile rise dramatically, but I have to keep those under my hat for the time being. Hopefully I’ll be able to be a bit more open about them soon. For now, may I suggest giving a few friends a call and inviting them around for a delicious cup of Cafezinho together?