If you know me you know I LOVE COFFEE. If you don’t know me, you will soon find out how much coffee is Bae. So give it a read to learn about my coffee experiences no Brasil.
Café com leite. Só um pouquinho de leite. Sem açúcar. (Coffee with milk. Only a little bit of milk. Without sugar). Today, this phrase rolls off my tongue as if I’ve spoken português for a long time. Yet I can’t help but think about a year ago in February, March and even April 2018 when I stumbled to speak these three phrases. Dominant Spanish getting in the way of it all. No, Delicia its “Café CON LECHE. Solo un poquito. SIN AZÚCAR” gently reminding me in the back of my mind. I could hear my inner Spanish teacher while I quickly found my Reais to pay and run to the next step in the process.
My inner dialogue goes:“Omg I have to say something when I pick it up. Do I say Gracias? No. It’s Obrigada. Got it ok. Here we go. This is the moment! Add a Muito to it so it’s; Muito Obrigada. GOOD!! YOU DID IT!!
Now run or power walk to the next step. Sit and read and get to work. Put the headphones in to look like you are BUSY.
The truth is my headphones were in, yet no music played. I did this, so I could hear all the Portuguese around me. I tried to piece words together and learn phrases and try to pick up slang.
Wow. All that anxiety for a cup of coffee. Insider info: their large is like my extra small. Suddenly, the panic to go back up and order another one the same way because I forgot to say “two please” would settle in. Then to try and ask for a cup of ice to make it iced coffee. So.many.steps.
Not that I didn’t know how to google translate phrases and practice them for hours in the mirror trying to perfect the accent. Side note: it is imperative to download Google Translate for Offline use in case wifi does not work or your cellphone provider loses data service. Lets be honest, the wifi most likely will not work. Alas, this post is about coffee and not quarrels with wifi in Brasil (that is for another blog post).
While ordering coffee on campus or at a local shop in Brasil, I found myself embarrassed to say the order out loud in front of the cashier and then nervous to butcher it and hold up the line. I could feel everyone stare at me asking themselves: “why is she taking so long?”
Bless the souls that had patience with me as I stumbled over a coffee order. Their smile helped me through the process. I was determined to get in Portuguese and not Portunhol (Spanish & Português together).
Once the order arrives at the coffee shop. Making Iced Coffee is the next step.
My fave has been this little shot glass of agua com gas (aka seltzer water) to you know cleanse The palate AFTER the cappuccino.
While this post is mostly about coffee and my experiences drinking coffee and ordering iced coffee in Portuguese these stories remind me of the nuances of learning a new language, engaging with a new culture, and being open to the cultural codes of the country I am living in.
There are many ways in which coffee shows up in Brazilian culture. One of the ways is when a friend or colleague says: “vamos marcar um cafezinho.” This means that they are interested in connecting with you over a cup of coffee. This practice is embedded within the deep relationship building blocks of meeting new people, connecting with students or catching up with a professor at the federal university.
In order to fully feel acclimated to a new city it was imperative to find the coffee shops with GOOD Wifi in order to get some work done. One of those sweet spots was Slow Coffee in Bairro Ouro Preto in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. The owners were kind and welcoming. Willing to accommodate our iced coffee orders. If you are ever in Belo Horizonte visiting Lagoa Pampulha or the infamous Mineirão and need to make a coffee stop: this should be on your Belo Bucketlist.
Similarly, if you ever find your way to Belo Horizonte and if a turn of events leads you to Lavras please visit and support this student run coffee shop on campus at UFLA (Universidade Federal de Lavras) CAFESAL . The best Cinnamon Cappuccino I’ve tried to this day. Now that I am back home I don’t really drink Cappuccino because Iced Coffee is Bae and takes precedence, however, I did love them in Lavras. They helped me lesson plan and come up with creative ideas for workshops for our students.
Not an ad. Just me loving on some iced coffee. Ok if you learned anything is that I love ICED coffee. Brasil taught me to chill with the iced coffee and experience new modes of cultural coffee drinking practices.
I miss them spelling it right in Brasil.
Café com leite, sem leite ou só um pouquinho de açúcar. However you choose to drink your coffee and with whom it is truly a communal experience in Brasil. Make the time when you are abroad to take part in the country’s mode of cultural coffee experience. In comparison, in the USA we may grab it on the go before class or work. One of the big “reverse culture shock” moments I had when I returned was when I visited New York City and almost everywhere I looked everyone had headphones or “airpods” in with their backpack or briefcase with a coffee to go in hand. This imagery reminded me that I was indeed back in the US and no longer in Brasil. Coffee dates are different yet also part of the relationship building thread of our culture.
I feel honored to have had the opportunity to live in Brasil and learn about the culture through various cups of coffee.
For more coffee adventures and updates follow me on instagram @delitheexplorer.
Até a próxima , pessoal!
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