By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Kraft Café, a new cafe in Ipanema serving coffee, espressos, lattes and cappuccinos made from freshly roasted coffee beans, plans to open officially on Tuesday, December 29th. The cafe is the brainchild of Australian expatriate Duncan Hay and Priscila, his Brazilian partner.
“Priscila and I were talking about opening a business late last year involving food,” Hay told The Rio Times. ” This year when I was laid off we had to really make a decision and my sister living in LA sent me an interesting article from the NY Times about the recent success of Australian cafes there.”
“There was also a coincidence in that I had just returned from a vacation in Australia and caught up with an old friend who owns a successful café in Western Australia called Ravens Coffee,” Hay added. “My friend Nick Raven told me he was importing seven tonnes of green coffee from Brazil and roasting it himself. I called and he was a very happy to help.”
“I made the decision early that if I was going to have a café then I would roast my own coffee. The first purchase was a roaster which arrived in May. I have the roaster in an old mansion at the bottom of Corcovado by the pool. It’s a spectacular place to roast coffee and relax.”
When asked why Rio de Janeiro for the location of the cafe, Hay said; “Rio is a beautiful city. I am a big beach lover so for me, the all year weather is a big plus. I am always amazed by the size of the population and the limited quality for many products and services which was a big factor when deciding to stay and have a go at business.”
Jason Lee, a coffee consultant for Kraft Café who worked previously for cafes in New Zealand and as an upper management representative for one of the leading coffee roasteries in Wellington, New Zealand told The Rio Times, “I personally find the coffee culture in Rio extremely lacking, perhaps due to my high standards due to my work experience, but mostly due to the fact Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world but yet its so hard to find decent coffee here.”
“Kraft Cafe will set the new standard for Italian Coffee Culture in Rio due to the fact that Duncan is sourcing and roasting his own coffee beans from right here in Brazil,” said Lee.
Adding later; “The staff have also been trained to make espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and other various coffees to an international standard, meaning the milk is very smooth and lattes come with milk artwork on top, something very hard or almost impossible to find in Rio currently.”
“Coffee is our core business and we have really good coffee,” Hay told The Rio Times. “I have sourced great farms that have extremely good quality green beans. I have the beans trucked to Rio where I carefully roast them. Many people aren’t aware that roasted coffee is only really wonderful if consumed within two weeks of roasting regardless of packaging. We have an imported La Marzocco espresso machine handmade in Florence Italy to extract the rich intense flavor to each cup.”
“Our Lattes and Cappuccino’s are really wonderful with very creamy frothed fresh cow’s milk,” Hay added. “We also have dairy free milk from Cashews and also lovely Chai Lattes. People wanting fresh ground coffee to take home can do also in 250gr packages.”
In addition to coffee, the Kraft Café plans to serve meals, salads, snacks and desserts. There will be international dishes and several Australian-based meals and snacks that are vegan, vegetarian, sugar-free, diary-free and made with local products and fresh produce.
“My partner Priscila has been working very hard on some amazing Raw Vegan dessert options,” said Hay. “We will offer great snacks to go with coffee that don’t have sugar or dairy products that taste incredible. […] From behind the juice bar we have ‘Super Food,” options for smoothies and fresh juices. There is also a great selection of hot and cold sandwiches.”
Breakfast will be served seven days a week and will include Chia puddings, home-made granola, fruit parfait with locally made Greek Yogurt, and eggs benedict. There will also be fire baked sourdough served with vegemite and raw honey.
Hot meal option will include fresh fish, salmon with salad, Angus beef steaks, pizzas, a vegetarian burger called the “Nutz n Bunz”, and an Angus Burger named the “Drunken Aussie,” made with Angus beef marinated in dark beef.
While Hay trails and tribulations have been previously reported in other publications, Hay prefers to focus on the menu and how to best serve his customers now that the cafe is up and running.
“The bureaucracy is a nightmare. The refit took double the expected time,” said Hay. “We currently are focussed on the café in Ipanema and believe that with our vision and obsession to provide a wonderful café experience that opportunities will present themselves in good time. Any expat interested in opening business will need to come and have a coffee and chat anytime to find out the gory details about the obstacles we faced.”
The cafe had a soft opening during the weekend before Christmas and plans to officially open on December 29th.
What: Kraft Café
When: Official opening on December 29th
Where: R. Aníbal de Mendonça, 55 – Ipanema, by phone at (21) 99931-4456 / (21) 99953-6675
Entrance: FREE. Coffee and food prices vary.