A quick map of Vila Madalena coffee
I’m a coffee person. Sure, I appreciate the tea in the afternoon and the occasional morning cappuccino too. But coffee is what gets me going every day. Nearing my 40s (quite proud, thanks), I finally developed a healthy relationship with my daily fix, accepted my inability to handle caffeine after 4 PM and learned to never order a third espresso. I know like my coado with a little sugar and that my favourite coffee treat is good, freshly baked pão de queijo or a small brigadeiro.
I’m also a madalenense – a Vila Madalena local. This bohemian hood in São Paulo’s west side is where I grew up and decided to come back after years away. I sold my car and started to do everything on foot. Which leads me, of course, to dozens of coffee places – some are new to me (like Cacao Sampaka), some been here for a while (like Aprendiz). The map and list bellow compiles the best Vila Madalena coffee shops according to my own daily walks and caffeine fixes.
And if there’s good coffee I forgot (or don’t know about!), please enlighten me on the comments section – I may update the list if a good suggestion comes.
1. Coffee Lab
The best Vila Madalena coffee is much likely the best in all of São Paulo. Coffee Lab is a barista school and luckily for us, “villagers”, it’s right in the heart of Vila. Isabella Raposeiras and her crew know good coffee and want you to know it too. The team is always willing to talk about coffee and the culture and science surrounding it. You can choose the method, the beans and the roast, as well eat from a small but smart menu, with cheese sandwiches, homemade cakes and organic eggs. Have in mind that prices are higher than other coffee places and beware of crowds on weekends and lunchtime.
2. Ekoa Cafe
A nice, open space with a lot of natural lights. Ekoa has a hippie Vila Madalena, with a season-oriented menu, well-being messages on the walls and “shared coffee” politics (you can pay a coffee for a stranger if you want to). Natural juices and light, organic snacks are available, as well of a short selection of salads and pasta for lunch. It’s right beside Alternativa, one of the first natural food chains in the city, and in front of Livraria da Vila. Great place to spend an afternoon working.
3. Café Aprendiz
One of the places responsible for keeping Madalena’s feet on the ground, Aprendiz started as the office of Cidade Escola Aprendiz, an NGO working for the qualification of young people back in the 90s. Slowly, developed into a lunchtime restaurant that supports several social projects in the area. They’re also important in the revitalization process of the old park in front of the house, nowadays used for sports. Coffee-wise, what they serve is a simple espresso (coados are also available) but the thing here is that this is a very Vila Madalena spot. A place with soul.
http://cafeaprendiz.com.br/ UPDATE: closed.
Currywurst, pretzels, artisanal beer menu and such: yes, this is a Berlin-inspired joint. Good thing they also serve coffee! There are two blends: one for the day and another for nighttime. Coado only, no espresso machines here. Goes well with a Berliner, sort of sponge cake, fried and filled with vanilla cream.
5. Cacao Sampaka
Ok, so this is not a coffee place, but a fancy/expensive chocolateria imported from Barcelona. It made the list because I believe nothing goes better with coffee than chocolate. Also, they make an awesome brigadeiro. Plus the small garden in front is delicious and have blankets on cold days.
http://br.cacaosampaka.com/ UPDATE: closed.
6. Lá da Venda
There’s only one coffee available, and it’s the filtered coado kind. But it comes in a very cute cup! Truly, everything here is very cute, detailed and Brazilian. Owner and chef Heloísa Bacelar takes good care of her place, with a selected offer of local products from hand-made bordados to pottery pieces. Some say the pão de queijo is the best in town. I agree!
Hidden inside an independent gallery/magazine office called Espaço Cult, Bergamota (Brazilian word for “tangerine”) serves delicious quiches, waffles and coffee, with iced options during summertime. Nice place to hang out, wander through vinyl records, artsy magazines and interesting people. Check Espaço Cult’s agenda before, as there are always courses and events going on.
8. Le Pain Quotidien
Yup, the same faux-artisanal place you find everywhere, with the same faux-authentic vibe you find everywhere. The Vila Madalena store is a good place for a meeting, lunch, breakfast, a quick afternoon snack or Wi-Fi stealing session. Gentrification or not, it’s right around the corner and I keep coming back.
Explore more of my insider tips to São Paulo with this exclusive Guidrr guides.