Brazilians didn’t start eating bread until the beginning of the 19th century, when thousands of European immigrants set foot in the big cities and many Portuguese young families among them opened bakeries and ignited the bread tradition in South America. Back then, bread was made according to tradition, that is, using long fermentation times and high-quality flour. With industrialization, pre-made bread mixtures loaded with baking soda eventually replaced the baker’s role in many bakeries. But a few “true” bakeries survived.
Castália, in the city of Brasília, rescues the original baking tradition. These bakers understand that fermentation is a critical step for making good bread. They strive to work with local suppliers whenever possible and offer seasonal offerings in their bread and pastry lines. They work closely with AHA! Cafés, a Brasilia specialty-coffee roastery, in order to better understand their coffee and source spot-on beans to pair with their breads and pastries.
Castália was founded by Pedro Galvão, Eduardo Tavares, and André Tavares. Galvão is the pastry chef, Eduardo is the baker, and André handles the business, which in Brazilian Portuguese means bureaucracy. When Eduardo was working in advertising in Brasília, he was very unhappy with the quality of the breads in the capital. He started venturing into sourdough breadmaking in his house, and soon realized that he could make a business out of it—there were a lot of people interested in buying his bread. He then contacted Galvão, his cousin, who at the time lived in Montreal. Galvão and his girlfriend, Caroline Lazaroto, were sold on the idea, and later on moved to Portland, Oregon. Galvão had the opportunity to work for Roman Candle Baking Co, where, as he puts it, “There is a careful and harmonious choice of good pastries and good coffee.” When Lazaroto was working as a model, she went to Tokyo for a job and found an opportunity to do a coffee excursion while there. Eduardo went to the San Francisco Baking Institute to get formal education on what he had already decided was going to be his profession.
Eduardo’s brother, André, was living in São Paulo at the time and was compelled to move to Brasília and help them “not to lose any money,” as Galvão says, smiling. The three of them made a business plan and soon a crowd-funding campaign was launched. They managed to get 10 investors, mostly friends and family, but only reached about 50 percent of the initial plan. By cutting some parts of the initial project, they found a midsize location in Asa Norte and started installing the equipment.
The success came faster than expected: they started selling the bread even before the bakery itself opened. Many people then started asking for a “cafezinho” to pair with the delicious pastries Galvão was crafting. Then came Lazaroto with her acquired expertise and genuine passion for coffee. There are espresso-based beverages as well as pour-over coffees done with Hario V60. But as she explains, at Castália they will make whatever coffee you like. If someone is used to having a more concentrated pour-over, or a longer-than-usual espresso, they will do it.
“We want people to be comfortable here, and we baristas are trained to really understand what they mean when they are ordering their coffee, and then crafting their beverage specially for them.” A must-try is their cappuccino, served in a cup whose rim is caramel-dipped and then covered with crushed Baru nuts–a superfood nut that is native of the Brazilian Savanna. A vegan delicious option is the “cajuccino”, a cappuccino with housemade cashew (caju) milk. For the conservative types, just go for the bread and butter (or housemade jam and spreads), and a v60 on the side. I am telling you, folks, you don’t get this high-quality bread, coffee, and service all together, in one single place, that easily. Indulge in it.
The name of the bakery hails from the owners’ grandfather, who was a Brazilian diplomat. A long time ago, he had built his house in Brasília and named it Castália, which in Greek means something like a refuge, a fountain, a source of inspiration. I can attest that Castália is already a source of inspiration for any of the aspiring bakers or baristas in Brazil, who aim to truly respect the ingredients they work with and deliver something they are proud of.
Juliana Ganan is a Brazilian coffee professional and journalist. Read more Juliana Ganan on Sprudge.
Photos by Mirzan Campos Duarte.