Keeping Up With the Santoses

Through my 20s and early 30s, I was a black coffee junkie. I couldn’t start my day without a cup of coffee. I started traveling a lot, and would get my caffeine fix however the locals took it without even noticing if I enjoyed it or not. It was a purely utilitarian task. Acquire coffee, consume, feel effect.

Then I moved to Brazil. I felt I hit the height of my coffee consumption sophistication by bringing a Nespresso in my checked bag (it was so much cheaper to buy it in the US vs Brazil!). I missed how cheap the Keurig pods were, but started noticing the flavor of Nespresso more.

About 9 months after moving to Sao Paulo, I met Murilo. At breakfast-time, he’d go to his fancy espresso maker, tap-tap-tap of the portafilter (the handle apparatus that holds the coffee), press a bunch of buttons and with a whirl and some steam coming out, two espressos would magically appear out of thin air. I was more than a little intimidated by this machine that had so many steps and apparently techniques. You had to tamper in the grinds at the right pressure – too loose and the coffee would be too weak and too tight and the water couldn’t seep through and would get caught and basically flood the machine.

When I moved in, I brought my Nespresso machine and planted it firmly on the counter. He looked me square in the eyes and said, “Really? You brought a Nespresso machine into the house of the son of a coffee farm guy?”

To keep myself in the good graces of my now father-in-law, I nodded solemnly and stashed it in the back of the cabinet.

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