Think of Brazil and three things probably come to mind: The sultry rhythmic beats of Samba, the images of scantily costume-clad women during Carnival (a days-long celebration before Lent in the streets of many Roman Catholic communities around the world), and last but certainly not least—coffee. In 2007 Brazil claimed over 40% of the world’s output of coffee.
My brother-in-law and his wife, Al Santana and Marilyn Nance, noted filmmaker and photographer respectively, traveled to Brazil last month. As one would expect of most in their creativity-driven professions, a strong curiosity compels them to explore beyond the tourist-beaten paths.
While in Rio de Janeiro one night in search of something to eat, they came upon the Super Mercado Zona Sul, an interesting combination of a supermarket with a pizza shop in the back.
This was a very fortunate discovery, because it was here they also discovered Pilão, a Brazilian coffee favorite. Recommended by their tour guide, Marcelo Franco, his stamp of approval was enough for Ms. Nance, so she picked up a pack for me. You see, everyone knows, especially my family, I am all about the coffee.
Facts about Pilão
Pilão’s tagline, “o cafe forte do brasil” means, “The strong coffee of Brazil” in Portuguese which is Brazil’s official language.
According to Food Biz Daily, “Pilão Coffee started to be part of the Brazilians in 1978 and became leader in the national market, being the most known brand as the strong coffee of Brazil. The alliance with the Sara Lee Corporation in 1970 contributed to be one of the three biggest producers of toasted coffee in the world.”
Personal Sensory Experience
My personal sensory experience with Pilão went as follows:
When I opened the tight vacuum-sealed brick, my nose was immediately filled with chocolaty undertones and a promise that this coffee was going to be good. This promise of goodness was also ensured by what was missing--that smell of staleness that often accompanies pre-ground coffee. As a believer in grinding right before use, I was pleasantly surprised.
I dug in with my trusty coffee scoop and observed the texture of dark brown sugar, finely ground, tightly packed and moist. When my coffee maker’s cycle was complete, the resulting elixir was a beautiful inky mahogany brown.
The taste brought a chocolaty licorice to mind and yet not sharp or bitter. Brazilian coffees are often used as a base for espresso so its rich bold flavor was not surprising.
I give Pilão, even in this pre-ground brick, a definite thumbs up! No surprise—this is Brazilian coffee after all.
Where to Buy
Aside from a trip to Brazil, Pilão can be purchased online or check in with your local food market that carries international food brands.
About the Artists
Photographer Marilyn Nance and Independent Filmmaker Al Santana have decades of work behind them individually. Their current exhibit is a family effort that combines their work with the skills of their grown children, Rafia and Ali Santana—artists in their own right—as The Santana Group. If you live in New York City or plan to visit, please go out and see the "HEAVY COMPREHENSIVE SHOW", a collaborative piece that is a part of the Caribbean Cultural Center’s exhibit entitled, “Life After Death: An Analysis of the Persona that Was/Is Fela Anikulapo Kuti.”
Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute(CCCADI)
408 West 58th Street, New York, NY 10019
Please note, the exhibit closes on Labor Day, 09/6/2010
News coverage of the exhibit on NY1: Website