If you are in the NYC area this week (November 12-19), I highly recommend checking out Cafes do Brasil Week! Twenty restaurants will be serving high-quality Brazilian coffees, which I had the pleasure of sampling yesterday at a brunch at Casa Restaurant in NYC.
I was greeting by the friendly woman who invited me to the event, Elena, and received a cute little bag which contained a Cafes do Brasil pin and a brochure which mapped out and described each Brazilian coffee, where it came from, and what distinguished each variety from the others. The brochure was extremely informative and helpful during the coffee tasting because it helped us visualize exactly where in the country the beans of the coffee were were drinking that very morning were grown!
Other attendees of the event included freelance writers, blog owners, photographers, and web journalists. I met some amazing people and the conversation was fantastic!
I adored the simple place settings and classic cloth place mats. Those salt and pepper shakers are cute too!
The interior was also gorgeous. During the meal, one of the writers I met, Alex DiBlasi, told me that the street we were on was supposedly one of the oldest in the entire city. I can definitely see that, because the restaurant had an old charm with a touch of authentic Brazilian decor. The plentiful sunshine coming in through the windows brightened up the white walls and ceiling even more too.
We had the chance to sit down and taste three types of Brazilian coffees with Christian Santiago of the Brazilian Roasters Association and Alberto Bicca of the Brazilian Trade Promotion Agency. I feel lucky to have been able to learn about the coffees I was trying from Brazilians with such a passion for what the farmers of their country grow – Brazil is the world’s top coffee producer! I’m a self-proclaimed coffee addict, but honestly do not know much about its origins or different types beyond simple flavor differences. Now I can honestly say I am a more educated coffee drinker, and I love knowing more about what I love!
Some of the cool stuff I learned from Christian and Alberto:
- Deregulation of Brazilian coffee in the 1990’s aided in putting quality over quantity and increased the varieties of premium coffee grown, as well as the incidence of “green” growing practices.
- Since the coffee grows best in certain altitudes, and so much farming is done in the mountains, there is a lack of flat land available to lay out the beans and let them naturally dry in the sun after harvest. That is why coffees made from beans that were dried are more rare.
- Coffee is a fruit! Well, the bean that is.
- Just like in Europe, there is not much iced coffee to be found in Brazil. Coffee-based alcoholic beverages are also not as popular there as in America.
- In Brazil, it is common to do tastings of coffee and wine at the same time. SIGN ME UP!
I absolutely loved each coffee I tried. We sampled them solo first, from lightest to darkest (Mogiana, Cerrado, Planalto, as seen in the menu above). And trying them back-to-back highlighted the subtle flavor differences so well. My favorite type was the Cerrado, because the subtle orange flavor the menu promised was really there. I had never tasted something like that in coffee before, and I do tend to gravitate toward the unique!
I loved the atmosphere of this brunch. The people were friendly, the pace of sampling was slow, and I felt so relaxed and at ease. I’ve been feeling pretty stressed lately, so the entire day in the city yesterday was a welcome release.
Food time! Each sample was provided by Jeff Santos of Brazilian Specialty Foods, Inc and we were definitely impressed.
We started with a basket of cheese bread, yucca and coconut cake, and sugar and cinnamon doughnuts. Everything was wonderful. The doughnuts, while delicious, did not taste unique in any way that would make me think they were Brazilian. However, the yucca and coconut cake was unlike any breakfast bread I’d tried before – the perfect sweetness. I dipped both that and the doughnuts in another cup of the Cerrado.
I love both sweet and savory breakfast treats, so the cheese bread was really something. It smelled like an asiago bagel, but had a soft, pillowy texture that I enjoyed. Each little “puff” was not chewy at all, but flaky and a pleasing warm temperature. They were my favorite part of the basket.
The main course was eggs florentine paired with roasted potatoes and Brazilian sausage. Each of us enjoyed a cup of the Planalto coffee with this dish, because it is considered the most breakfast-like coffee of the three we tried. It did complement the food well! I usually drink coffee solo, and rarely with food, so this was a nice change of pace for me. Again, the relaxed brunch vibe was really flowing at this point and I was having a blast.
The sausage was honestly the best I have ever had. The potatoes were also perfect – not greasy, and soft with the exception of perfect, crisp edges.
The egg was poached perfectly and my favorite part of the meal was saved for last – the yolk-soaked, spinach-covered english muffin. YUM. I cleaned my entire plate.
This was my first official blogger event and it far surpassed my expectations. I made amazing connections and learned so much about New York City from the other attendees and about Brazilian coffees from the event hosts.
Again, anyone in the NYC area this week should really head to one of the restaurants participating in Cafes do Brasil Week and try some Brazilian coffees – and some Brazilian food too, because why not, right? Some of these coffees are even in our country for the first time ever!
Thank you to Cafes do Brasil for having me and for teaching me so much about my favorite beverage!
How much do you know about coffee? What’s your favorite brunch dish?