By Elly Hu, Staff Writer
When I’m on the go, I usually like my coffee black — maybe a teaspoon of sugar if I’m feeling special, but otherwise, it’s plain. Like myself, many people have their own specific coffee order wherever they go. But what if you were abroad and there were no Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts to accommodate to your usual order? Coffee is enjoyed all over the world by billions of people but various countries have their own “coffee culture.” Americans may think they drink a lot of coffee, but compared to some places, we’re measly in our number and strength of espresso in the actual drink itself.
This week’s location will let your taste buds and coffee senses travel to Brazil without the hassle of having to get yourself all the way to Logan airport.
Location #5: Sofá Café (217 Newbury St, Boston, Mass.)
This Brazilian mini-chain of cafés (there are three locations in São Paulo) opened its first U.S. store in Boston this past spring. It is one of the lower level shops on Newbury Street and if it weren’t for its large pink and orange sign outside, many people might have trouble finding it.
Walking down the stairs to its entrance, Sofá Café has a small patio-like space outside its door. Despite the chilly weather on the day of my visit, there were a couple of people enjoying their drinks and doing work outside. Coming into the store, I was welcomed by warmth and an array of colors — turquoise blue chairs, exposed red brick walls, a pale yellow couch and other random pops of color in the decor. Their purple espresso machine was probably my favorite, since its color complemented the turquoise blue wall behind it.
True to its name, it was a very cozy setting. It was quiet but not dead, in the sense that there will still customers coming in and out. I thought that the store made very good use of the space inside by lining all the seats with a table on one side and having an actual sofa on the other; however, I did expect there to be more couches. While you might not be able to park and do your homework here all day (an hour or two is probably acceptable), it’s definitely more of a place to relax, and for people to sit and catch up over drinks (as I did, with the two friends who joined me).
What I ordered: Cult (espresso, milk, Nutella and Bailey’s coffee creamer)
Even though I previewed their menu online prior to my visit, it still took me some time to decide on what to get. Sofá Café’s menu has an assortment of many different espresso beverages that I imagine are slightly different from from its American equivalent because of the culture difference. These three were especially different: an Affocato (vanilla ice cream, espresso and whipped cream), Cult (above), and Ventura (espresso , water, ice, sugar and lime). All three were cold beverages and were pricier than the other options. However, I ended up selecting the Cult because I was really craving Nutella at the time (as for the cost? Well, #YOLO). My two friends ordered a hot chocolate and an iced coffee.
The barista came over to our table with our drinks when it was ready and each drink was served on top of a small saucer, a tiny heart-shaped biscuit and a shot glass of carbonated water. I later learned that the shot glass of sparkling water was provided to cleanse the palate before drinking an espresso. My Cult was a very delicious — sweet because of the familiar taste of Nutella, but I could still taste the espresso and milk. It almost felt like I was drinking an icy coffee-milkshake. I also tasted my friend’s hot chocolate and it was very good as well — the chocolate was rich but not so rich that it felt like you were drinking straight melted chocolate, and maybe even compete with L.A Burdick’s hot cocoas.
I definitely plan on coming back to try more authentic espressos in the future because I don’t think there is anywhere else like the Sofá Café.