Catahoula Coffee has some hot competition. Right down San Pablo Avenue, on the other side of the highway, sits Tempero Goiano, a little coffee shop with a lot more than just coffee.
To start, Tempero is just as much a restaurant as it is a coffee house. The large buffet table that greets customers upon walking in serves is the first introduction to the Brazilian café’s extensive offerings. Among the two dozen or so items available are baked plantains, Feijoada — a Brazilian specialty which is like a chili of beef and black beans — and, oddly, lasagna. The flavors of the Brazilian dishes are consistently spot on.
One tip: get there when the food is fresh; the food can get a little soggy after a couple of hours sitting in the buffet.
The buffet lunch at Tempero Goiano is a good deal, all things considered. It’s served for $7.50 per pound or $15 for all you can eat. The latter is better for customers looking for the full Brazilian experience — there are more options available than can fit on just one plate, and many customers go back for seconds.
The classic café experience of getting a drink, a pastry, and some wifi access is also available at Tempero Goiano. What makes Tempero stand out is that instead of croissants and bagels, the Brazilian café has coxinha (a puff of deep-fried chicken and dough) and páo de queijo (a cheese infused pastry that is Tempero’s biggest seller).
“About 20 percent of our sales come from the páo de queijo! It’s a big hit,” explains one of the cooks at Tempero. “The pastry is really unique in that the cheese is mixed in with the flour, making it really cheesy but not separate from the dough.”
The staff of Tempero is friendly and enthusiastic about their food — even if they occasionally have some difficulty communicating to patrons. The woman I spoke with didn’t give her name, and she explained that a language barrier prevents easy conversation from the owner — a kind woman with a soft smile. There was the occasional pause in conversation as the cook searched for the right words to describe her food, but it’s clear that she knows her food is good.
“Look at our cremes,” she said, directing me to look at the list of milkshakes. “We have tropical fruits like cupuacu, we have cashew. You’re not going to find things like this at Jamba Juice.”
The same could be said for most things at Tempero Goiano. Their coffee menu is simple — just coffee and café au lait — but beans are hearty and well roasted. The coffee is strong, but it’s not the only thing that the Tempero has going for it. More than anything else, the café is guided by its Brazilian roots and flavors.
From the TV playing news from a Brazilian TV station, to the fridge stocked with Brazilian sodas, to the unique pastries and smoothies — Tempero Goiano is a unique culinary experience. Next time you’re looking for a good coffee and feel like mixing up your routine, give Tempero a try — your adventurous side will thank you.
Tempero Goiano Brazilian Coffee House & Restaurant
12221 San Pablo Avenue, Richmond
Tel. (510) 237-9000
Seven days a week, 6 am to 8 pm
View their website here.