How To Make Brazilian Coffee (Cafezinho Perfected!)

Cafezinho is one of the most quintessential Brazilian beverages, with a rich flavor as passionate and unique as its culture.

Perfectly balancing sweetness with bitterness, this coffee drink is a traditional Brazilian way to welcome a guest into one's home.

However, it's so tasty you'll find it everywhere, from the biggest metropolis to the most remote village.

I fell in love with its taste, so of course I had to learn how to make it! Let’s jump right in!

If you're wondering how to make Brazilian coffee, look no further. The traditional Cafezinho is quite easy and fast to make, and over time, you'll come to perfect it to suit your taste.

Ingredients

First, check the following ingredients needed for the Brazilian coffee recipe:

  • 4 teaspoons of rapadura or unrefined brown cane sugar
  • 4 cups of filtered water (¾ of a cup per Cafezinho)
  • 4 heaped teaspoons of finely ground coffee (dark-roasted)
  • Milk or cream (optional)

Equipment

You may be wondering if you need a coffee maker for Cafezinho coffee. Not at all! You ARE the coffee maker today.

You’ll need:

  • Cloth, metal, or paper coffee filter
  • A glass or cups for serving your Brazilian coffee drink
  • A saucepan or pot for heating water

Traditional Cafezinho Steps

Making Cafezinho is actually super easy, and you need just a few ingredients! Even if you're brand-new to using coffee recipes, I know you'll find these instructions to be a breeze.

Follow this Cafezinho recipe carefully the first time, and after that, you'll have it down easily.

1. Boil Water and Add Sugar

Making Cafezinho properly means paying attention to the details, like having the ideal temperature for brewing coffee. In this case, it'll be anywhere from 92 to 96 degrees Celsius.

As it's a strong coffee, try getting it closer to 96 degrees to avoid any sour or overly acidic flavors.

If you don't have a water thermometer, bring water just below boiling point, adding sugar into the pan. Stir the sugar until fully dissolved.

Never let water actually come to a full boil, as coffee will be too bitter.

2. Remove Water-Sugar Mixture from Heat

Remove your saucepan from the stove, add in your coffee grounds, and stir for 20 seconds or so.

You can place your saucepan back on the burner and stir your coffee grounds to keep the water within the ideal temperature range we talked about.

3. Filter

The traditional way to make Cafezinho is with a cloth coffee filter, but you'll be just fine with a metal or paper one, too.

A regular paper filter will create a more crisp hot coffee as it will remove the oils. A metal filter results in a more full-bodied coffee mixture as it leaves the oils intact.

A cloth filter is ideal as it offers some combination of the two, removing some of the oils from the coffee grounds.

After selecting the filter you’d like, pour your coffee mixture through it.

4. Enjoy

The most important step! You can enjoy it either as a black coffee or add milk or cream to make it slightly less strong. You don't have to add sugar, as you already did this in the first steps.

Make sure not to serve boiling hot, but still very warm.

Person making a traditional Brazilian Cafezinho

French Press Cafezinho Steps

The Cafezinho recipe can also be applied to different brewing methods. If you'd like to make Cafezinho in a French Press, here's how to do it:

  1. Grind coffee beans into fresh coffee grounds, pouring them into the bottom of the French Press.
  2. Sprinkle granulated sugar or unrefined sugar over the traditional Brazilian ground coffee.
  3. Boil water inside a kettle, allowing it to sit for a minute
  4. Slowly pour the water over the coffee and sugar.
  5. Stir the mixture until everything comes to a well-incorporated mix, replacing the plunger to the top of the press.
  6. After four to five minutes, slowly push the plunger down, ensuring the coffee is trapped at the bottom.
  7. Serve Cafezinho in demitasse cups (if possible).

The Role of Cafezinho In Brazilian Coffee Culture

There's no place in the world like Brazil, with warmth and hospitality taking a front seat.

With Brazil being the world's largest producer of coffee, it makes sense that it's woven into just about every aspect of its society.

One of the traditional ways to show hospitality in this country is by offering a Cafezinho. Don't be surprised, though, if you aren't even asked if you want one!

You'll just be blessed with a cup of the delicious concoction, anyway.

You’ll likely be offered one when you enter someone’s home, while waiting for an appointment, while out shopping at a boutique in Brazil, etcetera.

They’re enjoyed morning, afternoon, and evening, and once I tried it, I soon became addicted to the traditional Cafezinho coffee drink!

Coffee has been a part of Brazil for a long time. In 1727, Francisco de Melo Palheta brought the first coffee seedling to the state of Pará.

Around 1770, it had spread to the southern city of Rio de Janeiro and its popularity exploded.

By 1840, it was already one of the country's leading exports, and Brazil became the largest producer of coffee in the world - a title it still holds today.[1]

During the early 20th century, the country would reserve its nicer Arabica coffee beans for exporting, keeping behind the lower-quality Robusta beans for use inside Brazil.

This made for a cheap brew, but the lower quality of coffee required longer roasting at higher temperatures than your average espresso drink.

These burnt, dark-roast beans no doubt made a strong cup of coffee, and locals would add sugar to mute its bitter flavors.

You'd often see people use a cloth sack (cloth filter) and pour boiling water over it, quickly becoming the traditional way to make a delicious Cafezinho.

Brazilian Cafezinho Coffee

What Kind Of Coffee Beans Are Best For a Cafezinho?

Meaning "black little coffee" in Portuguese, it comes as no surprise that Brazilian Cafezinho is made with finely ground coffee, usually served black.

So, what kind of coffee beans are needed to make the best cup possible?

Dark-roasted Brazilian coffee beans are ideal. The dark-roast, high-quality coffee beans should be black, with a thin layer of oil on the surface.

Ultimately, try to avoid pre-ground coffee, especially with a darker variety, as they last only a short time.

You want your Cafezinho to have a smooth, silky mouthfeel, and a stale, pre-ground coffee will not allow for that.

Instead, grind fresh, whole beans when you're ready to actually brew your Cafezinho. Here are a couple of beans that I really like:

  • Pilao Coffee Traditional Roast
  • Brazil Peaberry by Volcanica (affordable, high-quality brand all-around)[2]
  • Cafe Caboclo Torrado e Moido
Coffee Beans Scattered In Old Ceramics Cups

Common Questions About Brazilian Coffee

Can you use a drip coffee maker to make a Cafezinho?

No, you cannot make Cafezinho in a drip coffee maker. The traditional Cafezinho calls for a more "hands-on" method where you're responsible for every step rather than a machine.

What do Brazilians put in their coffee?

Brazilians really enjoy drinking black coffee, sweetened with a bit of sugar. However, they’ll sometimes add milk or cream as well. Either way, it will be rich and smooth, with tons of flavor.

Is Brazilian coffee acidic?

Brazilian coffee is known for having very low acidity - even less if you're using a cloth filter. Even though Cafezinho uses a dark roast, it's still low in acid. This makes it very easy to drink black or with just a tiny bit of milk or cream, as the taste is mild and smooth with a light sweetness.

Is Brazilian coffee high in caffeine?

Brazilian coffee, or Brazilian Cafezinho, is relatively low in caffeine. An 8-ounce cup has about 100 mg.

What coffee is similar to Brazilian coffee?

The most similar coffee to traditional Brazilian is probably Colombian coffee. The cups from both countries tend to be lighter in caffeine content and have a milder flavor overall (though very delicious).


Start Brewing Brazilian Coffee Today!

Thanks to its short brew time, easy-to-follow recipes, and easily accessible ingredients, the Cafezinho is a delicious choice no matter where you are in the world.

If you'd like to enjoy a little piece of Brazil right from the comfort of your own home, I highly recommend trying this flavor-packed Cafezinho recipe at least once!

References:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_production_in_Brazil
2. https://volcanicacoffee.com

ShayAnne Weeks

Author

ShayAnne Weeks
Shay is a fun-loving content writer and DJ who enjoys traveling the world whenever, wherever possible. The lifeblood that makes it all attainable has always been a strong cup (or 3) of coffee.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... A Café Cubano con Leche

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