Tag Archives: Coffee

Is coffee for children?

Photo by Igor Schutz/Flickr

I don’t remember a day of my life I didn’t have a cup of coffee mixed with milk at wake up time. It is absolutely normal for a Brazilian child to have it for breakfast as soon as he/she is out of the high chair.  But children generally don’t drink cafézinho, the coffee shot that may follow a meal or that is offered to guests – this is rather an adult habit. This reminds me of the way French parents deal with wine. It is offered to kids with moderation, maybe diluted in water, without fuss. And the French, by the way, also offer their children a bowl of café au lait in the morning.

Living in the US, I realized that the child-coffee connection is not universally accepted. More than once I met people who consider hideous offering caffeine to somebody underage.

Check this old Brazilian ads that make a huge effort to seduce very young viewers. Is this wrong, in your opinion?

Sinatra sings the excesses of Brazilian coffee

No commodity says Brazil as much as coffee. This year, the country’s coffee exports should reach US$ 7 billion and the internal sales will be also huge: each Brazilian consumes an average of 6.4 kilos of coffee per year.

Frank Sinatra was, for a while, the main ambassador of Brazilian coffee abroad, thanks to his 1946 “The Coffee Song”,  that chartered number 6 in the US. With lyrics by Bob Hilliard and music by Dick Miles, it makes sarcastic references to the omnipresence of the drink in the country – “the politician’s daughter was accused of drinking water and was fined a great big fifty dollar bill” – might be seen as a criticism or despise, but the truth is it helped reinforcing the case for Brazilian coffee – a strong brand till these days. Continue reading Sinatra sings the excesses of Brazilian coffee

X-ray of Brazilian agriculture

Chayote plantation in the state of Ceará by deltafruit/Flickr

Brazilian agriculture is expected to grow a record 40% till the end of this decade – twice the rhythm needed, in global scale, to supply for the growing demand, according to estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The country can give a contribution “to reduce the growth of hunger and inflation that is scaring the world, once again”, says this interesting article by Mario Osava, from Terramerica, a news agency sponsored by the United Nations, focused on sustainability and development.

This is the picture of the country’s agriculture, as portrayed by Osava:

  • Brazil is the leader in sugar, coffee, beef, soy and orange juice exports.
  • The country’s grain production grew 150% in the last 20 years – even if the planted area grew only 30% since 1990. During the 2010-2010 harvest, 148 million tons of grains were produced.
  • The country cultivates 72 million hectares (178 million acres), or 8.5% of its territory. According to Roberto Rodrigues, Agriculture minister between 2003 and 2006, interviewed for the article, additional 90 million hectares (222 million acres) could be cultivated without affecting native forests, because there are 70 million hectares of former pasture land that are already degraded. [My own comment: it is not clear if producers would necessary choose to plant in the degraded lands if they have the possibility of deforesting areas that are still fertile and rich in humus. If you don’t have laws, enforcement of the laws, control by the government, society and the banks, which can decide where to invest, you will have more expansion over native forests and cerrado. But that is, of course, a whole different debate. ]
  • Around 200 million hectares (494 million acres) are used to raise cattle – most of it extensively, with less than one animal per hectare.
  • Thanks to agriculture (and not the industry), the country had a US$ 20.244 billion commercial surplus.

Quoting Rodrigues, the article says that Brazil has “land, technology and courageous producers” to face the challenge of helping grow global agriculture to respond to the predicted the elevation of food prices, but it still lacks a strategy to fulfill “its destiny”.

You might be also interested in the post: Brazil will pay high price for climate change



How to talk to a Brazilian

Whenever you deal with foreigners – for business or pleasure –  it is wise to match your tone to their cultures and habits. There are countless anecdotes of people who lost deals because they offered alcohol to an observant Muslim or couldn´t negotiate with a Japanese for lack of understanding what “yes” and “maybe” really mean in their world – “maybe” and “probably no”, respectively. So, what should you know about Brazilians to have a smooth dialogue with my countrymen?

The short and obvious answer is: it depends. The same way you cannot compare the behaviour of Frenchmen born in Paris and Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean, it is really tough to set up rules that apply both to an Amazonian and a gaúcho (someone from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul). But the following observations might be a good guide to avoid faux-pas.

  • Informality – If you know anything about the country, you probably could guess this one. We tend to be very informal and cheerful – in ways that may shock sterner tourists. This applies, for instance, to the dress code. It is not a problem to show some – not all – flesh in coastal cities and in warmer cities of the Amazon and Centro-Oeste region, which includes the capital, Brasília, and the Pantanal wetlands).  Informality also applies to the high level of physical contact, which includes two or three kisses (less frequent) when you meet someone (woman-woman or woman-man, rarely man-man, unless among gays or relatives), or touching the arm or shoulder of someone else in the middle of a conversation (if it is persistent, there is flirt in the air). Naturally, you should avoid the kiss/touching routine in business meetings, unless you became somewhat more intimate. This informality is present, but attenuated, in the southern states (Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná), and in the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Continue reading How to talk to a Brazilian