Cafezinho Recipe: Delicious Traditional Brazilian Coffee
Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee beans and home to some of the planet’s best coffees. So we can safely say that Brazilians know their coffee, and one drink that reigns supreme in the country is the cafezinho.
Combining a little sugar, black coffee, and a splash of cream, it is Brazil’s coffee culture in a cup. Keep reading for Home Grounds’ delicious, traditional Brazilian cafezinho recipe.
What You Need
- 4 cups water
- 43 grams dark roast whole bean coffee
- One tablespoon brown sugar or rapadura
- Heavy cream, milk, or half-and-half, to taste
- Cloth filter
- Burr coffee grinder
- Digital coffee scale
At a Glance
Eight 120-ml servings
What is a Cafezinho?
If you’ve been reading our content for some time, you know we are passionate about all the different coffee beverages. From the humble Red Eye coffee to the Cuban espresso, we love coffee in all its rich, dark, complex glory.
The Brazilian cafezinho, also sometimes spelled cafe zinho, is another favourite. Made by boiling finely ground, dark-roast coffee with sugar and water, this traditional Brazilian drink perfectly balances sweetness with bitterness. And it brings a comforting cup of Brazilian culture into your home.
Brazil’s Coffee Connection
It’s no secret that Brazil is world-renowned for its coffee — not just for its quality but for the sheer quantity of coffee produced and exported to other countries each year. In Brazil, coffee is a US$9.23 billion business (1). With 14 distinct coffee-producing regions, they produced and exported nearly 40 million bags of coffee in 2022 alone (2).
With this abundance of Brazilian coffee, it’s little wonder that coffee in general – and the cafezinho in particular – is so ubiquitous throughout Brazil. Whether at work, visiting a friend’s house, or strolling through a marketplace, the cafezinho is the most commonplace drink. In fact, many establishments that sell food serve complimentary cups of cafezinho to their patrons (3).
Cafezinho: How to Make Brazilian Coffee
The traditional method for making Brazilian cafezinho is akin to an immersion method like the French press. Finely-ground coffee is added to sweetened boiling water. After a short brew time and a bit of stirring, this coffee mixture is strained through a cloth coffee filter placed over a carafe.
Cloth coffee filters produce a drip-brewed coffee that perfectly balances a complex mouthfeel and a clean-tasting cup. However, they can be challenging to maintain. Cloth filters require careful cleaning to remove spent coffee grounds and thorough drying, so they don’t develop mouldy or off flavours.
Let’s get started on this Brazilian coffee recipe.
1. Measure and Grind the Coffee
Using a digital coffee scale, weigh 43 grams of dark-roasted coffee beans. With a good burr coffee grinder, grind the coffee to a fine grind size like you would for espresso.
Pro tip: You can use any blend or single-origin coffee you prefer, but Brazilian coffee beans will give you the most authentic flavour.
2. Bring the Water and Sugar to a Boil
Bring 4 cups, or 950 ml, of water to a boil in a saucepan and add one tablespoon of brown sugar or rapadura.
Pro tip: Rapadura is a type of unrefined sugar common in Latin America. It has a higher molasses content than refined sugars, which adds depth to the drink. If you can find it, it produces a more traditional flavour.
3. Brew the Cafezinho
Take the pot off the heat and immediately add the finely ground coffee. Put the lid on, and let it sit for five minutes. Resist the urge to stir.
Once five minutes have elapsed, take the lid off and stir with a wooden chopstick or spoon. Then let the coffee grounds settle for another four minutes.
4. Serve the Cafezinho
Once the brew time is up, strain the coffee through a cloth filter into a pre-heated carafe. To serve it traditionally, warm some demitasse espresso cups and serve the cafezinho with a splash of milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half.
Pro tip: Want to impress your guests? Serve your cafezinho alongside Brazilian desserts like bolo de rolo or cookies.
Bring a mug of Brazilian culture to your morning ritual or afternoon pick-me-up with a traditional cafezinho. Whether you enjoy it with dessert or dinner, it’s a simple tradition that deserves a place in your coffee routine.
Did you make this recipe? What did you think? Don’t forget to rate and review, share on Instagram, or comment below or in our Home Grounds Facebook group.
The best single-origin coffees for making cafezinho are from Central and South America. These origins have well-balanced cup profiles and classic flavours when dark roasted. Though it’s entirely up to your taste, single origins from Asia-Pacific coffee-growing regions may not be the best for Brazilian cafezinhos, as they tend to be more herbaceous and vegetal in their cup profiles.
Yes, you can use sugar substitutes like Stevia, Splenda, or Monk Fruit. Unrefined options like honey, maple syrup, and even molasses can also work though they bring their own flavour. Remember that many substitutes aren’t measured cup-for-cup to granulated sugar, so we suggest adding it to taste at the end.
No, you can’t use a drip coffee maker to make a cafezinho. The drink won’t have the same character without the long steep time and cloth filter. However, brewing a coffee from Brazil in your drip machine, then adding cream and rapadura to taste, yields a tasty facsimile.
- Cecafé. (2023, January 25). Monthly exports report – Cecafé. Cecafé. https://www.cecafe.com.br/en/publications/monthly-exports-report/
- Costa, B. (2016, April 13). 5 Things You Should Know About Brazilian Specialty Coffee. Perfect Daily Grind; Perfect Daily Grind. https://perfectdailygrind.com/2016/04/5-things-you-should-know-about-brazilian-specialty-coffee/
- Hutson, C. (2017, August 30). Exploring Traditional Brazilian Coffee Culture – Atlas Coffee Club. Atlas Coffee Club Blog | Club Culture. https://club.atlascoffeeclub.com/exploring-traditional-brazilian-coffee-culture/