Coffee Shops in Rio de Janeiro

While Brazil is outwardly considered the coffee capital of the world, it is often an afterthought for locals who fill bitter black espressos with heaps of sugar to start the day. My love for coffee is largely influenced by my British approach to how I drink tea – mild and milky – and so I I took to the streets to find the cup of coffee of my dreams. I came across some wonderful coffee shops across the city and they are well-worth a visit, not just for coffee but for lunch, snacks, and desserts. Here are some of my favourites in Centro.

—01 Casa Cave

The high ceilings and tall, mirrored walls add an airy feel to this European-style coffee shop that is the oldest pastry shop in Rio, its beginnings dating back to 1860. The crack in the floor and the stained mirrors are charming rather than troublesome, and the subdued colours of aging yellows and greens and patterned tiles draw from its continental roots. The coffee is good, but it’s the Portuguese desserts – in particular, the pastel de nata – that are worth the trip there.

Casa Cave, Rua Sete de Setembro, 137, Centro, +55 (21) 2507 0068

Hours:

Monday – Friday: 8:30am – 7:30pm
Saturday: 9am – 2pm
Sunday: closed

Coffee Shops in Rio de Janeiro

—03 Confeitaria Colombo

What strikes me as I entered Confeitaria Colombo wasn’t its lavish splendor or the high elegant ceiling befitting of Rio’s elite from decades ago, but the sweet, sticky smell of icing and the counters of tempting tarts, pastries, and cakes. It takes a moment of self-restraint to stop myself from giddily running over and pressing my hands against the glass protection, greedily eyeing up the enticing offerings. Instead, I take a seat and admire the tall, mirrored walls and dark subdued colours of the spacious coffee shop filled with sophisticated guests being attended to by thoughtful waiters. My coffee is smooth and mild, made better by the accompanying biscuit with a doce de leite centre. It’s a bit pricey at R$13, however, the regal ambient is clearly factored into the cost and is worth it for a special treat.

Confeitaria Colombo, Rua Goncalves Dias, 32, Centro, +55 (21) 2505 1500

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9am – 7pm
Saturday: 9am – 5pm

Coffee Shops in Rio de Janeiro
– 05 Café do bom Cachaça da boa

While the counter of cakes, cabinets of pretty crockery, and the little table pots of sugar suggest coffee shop, the rows of cachaça and cases of spirits say otherwise. The venue is undeniably charming; the mosaic-tiled floor, the glass cupboards of Brazil-themed books from a time long ago, and the cosy green colour theme are enticing and easily capable of reeling in the curious passersby. My cappuccino was incredibly strong and served with a cinnamon stick as a creative touch for a spoon substitute. Café do Bom Cachaça da Boa doesn’t fit into my neat categories of coffee shop nor bar yet this adds to its playful charm. The historic setting would be great for a day of cachaça-tasting too – there are nearly 100 types there.

Café do Bom Cachaça da BoaRua da Carioca, 10 Centro, +55 (21) 2509 1018

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 10am – 8pm
Saturday: 10:30am – 2pm

Coffee Shops in Rio de Janeiro

—02 Curto Cafe

A coffee shop where guests pay only what they want seems to be a business disaster waiting to happen, yet Curto Cafe continues to prove it can and does work. Tucked away in a humdrum commercial gallery, the shop layout is a counter rigged up at the end of the second-floor corridor with a notable lack of comfy seating arrangements. Yet here it’s all about the coffee. A limited menu of just three products – espresso, cappuccino, or coffee beans – allows a pinpoint focus on getting them just right. There are no cashiers and no fixed prices; just the monthly expenses handwritten on the wall that guides what would be a sustainable price to pay. The heaving crowds around lunchtime hint that the place is doing well and people are mostly paying what’s necessary or more. It is one of my favourite coffees I’ve ever had anywhere with its mild nutty flavour and smooth, creamy texture. Once a week I treat myself to a cappuccino here and it is honestly a highlight in my week.

Curto Cafe, Edificio Garagem Menezes Cortes, Avenida Erasamo Braga, 278, Centro, +55 (21) 98255 7424

Hours:

Monday – Friday: 10am – 5pm

Saturday – Sunday: closed

Coffee Shops in Rio de Janeiro

– 04 Cafeteria OK

Images of pastries and desserts decorate the walls of this traditional coffee shop where the second floor opens out as large balcony, preventing the small place becoming potentially stuffy. The white walls are softened by the occasional splash of orange and red, and dark wooden finishings and sprigs of flowers add to the homely feel. The Cappuccino OK is mixed with chocolate and cinnamon, and topped with chantilly giving it a rich, almost sickly sweet flavour which frankly I love. However, the ordinary cappuccino is good too – thin yet smooth with a pleasantly bitter kick.

Rua Sen. Dantas, 24, Centro, +55 (21) 2215 0056

Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 8am – 7pm

Coffee Shops in Rio de Janeiro

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