When in Rome do as Romans do. So when we find ourselves in São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil (and indeed South America), we knew we had to take the lead from the locals. This means starting the day late like a real Paulistano (what São Paulo residents call themselves) and lingering for a while longer than necessary in bed before strolling to a café for breakfast at a time when most folks elsewhere are considering their lunch options.
We could hardly do better than dropping by Suplicy Cafés Especiais in the stylish neighbourhood of Jardim Paulista for a spot of coffee and an early dose of people-watching.
Don’t worry about walking into the café like a zombie after one round of drinking too many the previous night, with your shades on like a movie star. Other café customers are likely to be wearing their shades too, but mostly to hide the fact their eye bags are heavier than regret. São Paulo is not a city of early risers but some brave souls will do anything for their coffee.
Not much conversation is needed either (verbal skills being somewhat limited before noon). This is a café where you need to know the baristas by name to get some service, nor is it one of those anonymous come-gulp-and-go dumps that litter the city’s morning espresso boulevard.
You don’t even need to smile.
The baristas will be more than happy to take your order, pull perfect shots, foam milk to a creamy finish, and delight you with their latte art. (They take requests, if you’re lucky.)
Suplicy Cafés Especiais has a modern, industrial-chic look to it, plenty of clean lines and natural sunlight coming in through the storefront windows. Outside, other Paulistanos are still slowly waking up and leaving their apartments; everyone seems to be fetching their morning papers or walking their dogs. There are, you realise to your amusement, as many different types of Paulistanos as there are types of dogs.
There are the A.M. gym rats pounding the pavement with their pale, muscular Argentinian mastiffs. You have deeply tanned women of wealth and middle years strutting down the street with decades-younger male models and Kings Charles Spaniels; a toy dog on one leash, a toy boy on the other. There are the grandfather types, silver-haired or completely bald, always with a cigarro in their mouths and their Campeiro bulldogs, as grumpy-looking as they are.
The only ones who don’t seem to have a canine companion are the fashionable young parents with their double baby strollers. (Their children seem inordinately well-behaved, as though it would be improper to squeal or wail in public.)
But enough about the people; we’re here for the coffee.
We order their cappuccino doppio which has enough of a kick to ward off most hangovers. Pair that with one of their crumbly, clove-scented banana muffins for a light morning bite when you really can’t handle anything more substantial. And don’t forget some freshly squeezed orange juice for recovery vitamins (you will need them after partying in São Paulo’s many night clubs).
There’s nothing quite like a leisurely cup of coffee and something to read.
Suplicy Cafés Especiais
Alameda Lorena 1430, Jardim Paulista, São Paulo 01424-002, Brazil