A Cortado Is Not a Minivan

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Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza, a coffee farm outside of Igarai, close to where São Paulo state meets Minas Gerais. It’s a four-hour drive from São Paulo, depending on traffic. 
The 2000-acre farm is divided into four equal parts: coffee, sugarcane, pasture and forest. Coffee has been grown here since the 1840s; the main house is from the 1850s.

Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza, a coffee farm outside of Igarai, close to where São Paulo state meets Minas Gerais. It’s a four-hour drive from São Paulo, depending on traffic.

The 2000-acre farm is divided into four equal parts: coffee, sugarcane, pasture and forest. Coffee has been grown here since the 1840s; the main house is from the 1850s.

The coffee is beautiful. Isabela only roasts Brazilian beans (it’s the law: you can’t bring unroasted beans into the country - it’s easier to buy a Ferrari in São Paulo than a cup of Kenyan coffee), not that it matters when you source from farms such as Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza. 
This coffee made me very happy.

The coffee is beautiful. Isabela only roasts Brazilian beans (it’s the law: you can’t bring unroasted beans into the country - it’s easier to buy a Ferrari in São Paulo than a cup of Kenyan coffee), not that it matters when you source from farms such as Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza

This coffee made me very happy.

The patio on the side of the house is flat out pleasant. I took a seat, ordered from a nice dude in a jumpsuit and watched as my coffee was prepared for me at my table.
All this in what passes for winter in São Paulo.

The patio on the side of the house is flat out pleasant. I took a seat, ordered from a nice dude in a jumpsuit and watched as my coffee was prepared for me at my table.

All this in what passes for winter in São Paulo.

Like at the original Coffee Collective and at Tim Wendelboe in Oslo, the Coffee Lab’s roaster is in the middle of the coffee shop: you walk past it to get to the tables on the terrace.
It’s not a superficial tribute. Isabela spent time roasting both at the Coffee Collective and at Tim Wendelboe, and her roasts are also clean, light, bright.

Like at the original Coffee Collective and at Tim Wendelboe in Oslo, the Coffee Lab’s roaster is in the middle of the coffee shop: you walk past it to get to the tables on the terrace.

It’s not a superficial tribute. Isabela spent time roasting both at the Coffee Collective and at Tim Wendelboe, and her roasts are also clean, light, bright.

The Coffee Lab is in a two-story house built in the 1940s.
The front yard is a now a terrace with tables; the garage is a climate-controled storage facility for green beans; and upstairs there’s a training lab with classes for the public.

The Coffee Lab is in a two-story house built in the 1940s.

The front yard is a now a terrace with tables; the garage is a climate-controled storage facility for green beans; and upstairs there’s a training lab with classes for the public.

The Coffee Lab reminds me of the Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, only with a garden by the door: walk inside for the first time and you’re not sure what to do. There are tables and chairs and people drinking coffee, but there’s no register, no line. Instead, somebody in a jumpsuit comes up and orients you (if you look lost), or takes your order (if you know the drill).
It’s as disorienting as it is welcoming.

The Coffee Lab reminds me of the Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, only with a garden by the door: walk inside for the first time and you’re not sure what to do. There are tables and chairs and people drinking coffee, but there’s no register, no line. Instead, somebody in a jumpsuit comes up and orients you (if you look lost), or takes your order (if you know the drill).

It’s as disorienting as it is welcoming.

The Coffee Lab doesn’t get started until late, 10 am during the week and 11 am on Saturdays. (It’s closed Sundays.)  
This guy was waiting for the coffee lab to open, pulled a pipe out of his jacket.

The Coffee Lab doesn’t get started until late, 10 am during the week and 11 am on Saturdays. (It’s closed Sundays.)  

This guy was waiting for the coffee lab to open, pulled a pipe out of his jacket.

The Coffee Lab is in Vila Madalena, a leafy district in central São Paulo where young couples live in apartments and the houses have been converted into the fashionable restaurants and shops that travel writers like to write about.
Isabela said she didn’t mean to be in such a trendy area.

The Coffee Lab is in Vila Madalena, a leafy district in central São Paulo where young couples live in apartments and the houses have been converted into the fashionable restaurants and shops that travel writers like to write about.

Isabela said she didn’t mean to be in such a trendy area.


I met up with Isabela at the Coffee Lab, her shop and roaster in São Paulo. 
She pilots gliders, dresses up for dinner and favors cigars, in this case a Zino Platinum XS. 

I met up with Isabela at the Coffee Lab, her shop and roaster in São Paulo. 

She pilots gliders, dresses up for dinner and favors cigars, in this case a Zino Platinum XS

…and wandered back to the Edíficio Copan to see what it looks like at night.

…and wandered back to the Edíficio Copan to see what it looks like at night.

Later, Marcelo and I got a couple of drinks at one of the juice bars downtown (he had tangerine juice; I had coconut water from a coconut)…

Later, Marcelo and I got a couple of drinks at one of the juice bars downtown (he had tangerine juice; I had coconut water from a coconut)…

You can’t tell from the street, but all the apartments have floor-to-celing windows that are sliced into three by tiled sun breaks that run the length of the building (the direct light is never overwhelming), and each apartment has two exposures (there’s always a breeze).
The apartments in the Edíficio Copan are airy, temperate, comfortable. No need for air conditioners, or even window shades.
Elegant design.

You can’t tell from the street, but all the apartments have floor-to-celing windows that are sliced into three by tiled sun breaks that run the length of the building (the direct light is never overwhelming), and each apartment has two exposures (there’s always a breeze).

The apartments in the Edíficio Copan are airy, temperate, comfortable. No need for air conditioners, or even window shades.

Elegant design.

I was taken to the Edifício Copan by Marcelo, a project architect at Andrade Morettin Arquitetos, and when we stopped for a coffee on the ground floor we ran into Vinicius, one of the two principals at the firm.
Vinicius asked if we wanted to go into one of the apartments.

I was taken to the Edifício Copan by Marcelo, a project architect at Andrade Morettin Arquitetos, and when we stopped for a coffee on the ground floor we ran into Vinicius, one of the two principals at the firm.

Vinicius asked if we wanted to go into one of the apartments.

The Edifício Copan, by Oscar Niemeyer (who took his name off the project): 38 floors, 1100 units, nine years of construction that started in 1957. It’s really five buildings linked together in one thin, towering ribbon. 
It looks like it should be facing a beach, but it’s in the middle of São Paulo.

The Edifício Copan, by Oscar Niemeyer (who took his name off the project): 38 floors, 1100 units, nine years of construction that started in 1957. It’s really five buildings linked together in one thin, towering ribbon. 

It looks like it should be facing a beach, but it’s in the middle of São Paulo.

Another thing I noticed: the power lines.
They’re everywhere, twenty million people threaded to a grid knitted above the streets. It’s as if São Paulo wants to pretend it’s a town, not a city.

Another thing I noticed: the power lines.

They’re everywhere, twenty million people threaded to a grid knitted above the streets. It’s as if São Paulo wants to pretend it’s a town, not a city.