Rule number one for those in search of São Paulo’s finest cappuccino: don't say the word ‘cappuccino’. It can mislead the server and frustrate the customer, resulting in a wishy-washy coffee; or worse, you’ll dip your spoon in to find it hits a thick pile of cinnamon-flavoured chocolate goo. Take ift from us: café com leite espumado are the magic words for an optimal foamy coffee.
Deep inside the Mercado Municipal – the ‘Mercadão’ – is the Padaria Paulistana, where a chaotic agglomeration of hanging salami and oversized mortadella create thebakery/café/delicatessen’s unusual decor. The young, dynamic waiters make a pleasant contrast with the old-fashioned style of more traditional padarias (bakeries), rocking a colourful mixture of dyed hair, tattooed arms and cheeky smiles as they swing between the high stools and tables. Dida the barman breaks down the workload: ‘It’s 666, the number of the Beast’ – 6am until 6pm, 6 days a week, that is. ‘Only young people have the strength to do it,’ he says.
In the light filtering into the fine old market hall through Conrado Sorgenicht’s magical stained-glass window, which depicts 1920s rural life, Dida carefully paints his coffee creations, sketching autumn leaves, sentimental hearts and caramel-flavoured geometric designs onto the froth. The market throngs with people, from housewives doing their shopping to Asian tourists snapping away, and hordes of schoolchildren; but Dida hardly lifts his gaze from the steaming espresso machine, utterly at ease with his art.