Songs About Coffee: Brazil Edition
Sometimes the Brazilian obsession with coffee has crossed over with the country's other obsessions. Santos is home to one of Brazil's primary ports and to Santos FC, while soccer legend Pele has his own line of coffee. Coffee and music have also intersected, with unpredictable consequences. The reason for this is the profit brought by the Brazilian coffee industry, as well as the income inequality, exploitation, and corruption that have often come in its wake.
Brazilian politics from the time of Independence through the 1930's were commonly called "Politica do Cafe Com Leite," or "The Politics of Coffee with Milk," because of the outsize political power wielded by the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. While the "Politica do Cafe Com Leite" had largely faded by the 1960's its echoes were still being felt, and the dissatisfaction was being expressed by a rising generation of Brazilian musicians. One example is in Gilberto Gil's "A Luta Contra A Lata ou a Falencia do Cafe" (The Fight Against Tin, or, The Bankruptcy of Coffee*). In this tune from his self-titled 1968 solo album, he rails against the Paulista coffee plantation owners:
Chico Buarque's "Voce Nao Entende Nada" (You Don't Know Anything) wasn't quite as political as Gil's tune (though on the evidence of classics like "Apesar de Você" and "Cálice", he could be bitingly political when he wanted). Instead, it's a desire to escape the day to day grind and get back to simple pleasures... something to eat, and a cup of coffee. The song that follows Chico's performance** is by Caetano Veloso, who's been called Brazil's Bob Dylan or Brazil's Sinatra. With "Cotidiano" (Every Day), as with a body of work that stretches from the Tropicalistas to collaborations with the likes of Carlinhos Brown and David Byrne, he proves that it's more than enough that he's Caetano. In "Cotidiano," he sings of waiting for dinner every day, and "kisses with a coffee mouth."
In the mood for Brazilian coffee to go with your favorite Bossa, Samba, or Forro? Try our Park Ave Dark Roast single serve coffee packs. *A note on the translations: I'm not a native speaker of Portuguese, so if my translations are a bit off, my apologies. **There's an earlier, and somewhat better, version of these tunes on the 1972 album "Caetano & Chico: Juntos e Ao Vivo"; the later version is used here for its better sound quality.