When visiting Brazil, tourists may never hear about Vitória, the island where you’ll find the capital Espírito Santo. It boasts Brazil’s largest urban mangrove, which together with the water, vegetation, and local fauna makes for a unique ecosystem: a boat ride around the island is a perfect way to see it all together. Vitória is also perhaps the capital that is closest to a specialty-coffee-producing area, taking less than a two-hour drive to get to the small farms of the mountains of Espírito Santo. Thankfully, you don’t even have to leave the city for good coffee: we have selected these fine coffee shops for you to drink a nice cup and be merry on the island.
Vagner Benezath and his mother, Carmen Benezath, founded Kaffa in 2010, close to a university area where bars were way more common than coffee shops. Carmen is a nutritionist and a culinary chef, so she took charge of the food offerings, and Vagner is the lead barista and coffee curator. From the beginning, they offered coffee-focused classes, which were fundamental in bringing more people from Vitória into the specialty coffee spectrum. Although the younger Benezath is a partner at Trentino, a Vitória-based roastery, Kaffa has multiple offerings from roasteries that source coffees from regions other than Espírito Santo.
Kaffa has a variety of coffee options as well as a lunch menu that changes seasonally. A good bet for dessert—or well, breakfast—is the artisanal bolo de côco (cold coconut cake) with one of the pour-over options.
João Vitor Ribeiro says Tulha is the result of his culinary school term paper. He has always liked coffee, but it was not until he was studying cooking that he started to go after further education on the subject. He took some barista courses and then realized that his college final paper could unite two of his favorite things: food creations and coffee. He founded Tulha in 2018, and since the beginning has been making everything from scratch: from cinnamon rolls to cheesecakes and sourdough toasts.
To pair with the delicious pastries, the coffee: Ribeiro works mainly with Trentino due to its proximity and the possibility to tailor the origins and roasts to Tulha’s needs; however, he always offers beans from other roasteries as well. Don’t leave without trying their passionfruit tonic, made with passionfruit syrup, tonic water, and cold brew. Ribeiro is Brazil’s 2018 AeroPress champion, so, needless to say, ordering an AeroPress is also a safe bet.
Lucas Tristão Ferreira started out as a barista at Kaffa, and when he realized he wanted to do that for the rest of his life, he invested his life savings on barista and sensory courses and then on founding Café 495 in 2017. Located at Praia do Canto, a beach not suitable for swimming but famous instead for standup paddling and other beach sports, the coffee shop charms neighborhood patrons as well as the beach crowd.
Café 495 is very proud of its artisanal bread line: everything is made in their recently renovated kitchen. And, to beat the capital’s heat, go with their famous drink Espresso 2222: coconut water, rangpur lime syrup, ice, and a shot of espresso.
Danielle Segovia and Rafael Victor Pereira founded Zayin in 2015, aiming to, in their own words, “bring a cozy feeling back to Vitória’s downtown.” They carefully source their coffee from Trentino, and offer espresso-based drinks as well as filtered methods, the AeroPress being the most ordered.
The owners have an array of sweet and savory pastry options made with matzah flour—a note to their Jewish upbringing. They are proud to bring these and other Jewish-influenced foods to their patrons, most of whom are not acquainted with Jewish cuisine.
To pair with the coffee, go for the pão de queijo (gluten-free cheese bread—not yet a Jewish staple) filled with guava jam. You won’t regret it.
Trentino Cafés Especiais
Trentino is not a coffee shop, but worth mentioning here since it is the only quality-focused roastery in the greater Vitória area. Jonathan Piazarollo is the head roaster and has been working with coffee since 1994, first as a producer and then as a roaster and educator, while Vagner Benezath (from Kaffa) recently joined as his wholesale and marketing partner. Together, they have been able to strengthen the specialty coffee scene in Vitória to a whole new level, bringing higher quality coffee to unusual places such as the capital’s airport in a small kiosk and small bakeries, cocktail bars, and food joints across the city. Besides supplying the coffee, they offer barista training courses at the roastery and regularly promote trips to visit Espírito Santo farms and the producers they partner with. The Vitória coffee scene wouldn’t be what it is today without Piazarollo and Benezath’s effort to bring sensibly sourced coffee to restaurants, bakeries, and small cafes all across the capital Vitória as well as the state of Espírito Santo.
Juliana Ganan is a Brazilian coffee professional and journalist. Read more Juliana Ganan on Sprudge.
Photos by Roberto de Barros.