Originally from Brazil’s southernmost state, a place far away from Brazil’s coffee-growing culture, Francisco Siviero started his coffee career at home, like many other Brazilians. He describes a morning ritual that is familiar to many all around the world, Francisco explains
“I would wake up, have a cup of coffee with my family, and hope that beverage, the company, and that moment would provide me with the energy necessary to get through the day,”
While his coffee journey started at an early age at home, his understanding and appreciation for specialty coffee only began to develop later in life. A student of Geology and lover of nature. In 2016, Francisco decided to further explore his interests and embarked on a trip to Tanzania. On his descent from Mount Kilimanjaro, Francisco found himself astonished at the vast coffee plantations surrounding the area — it was his first time seeing a coffee plant. Upon trying the coffee from the area and tasting notes of what he describes as “sweet and chocolatey,” Francisco returned to Brazil and sought to discover the reason for the superior taste of Tanzanian over what he was used to having at home.
Francisco started off by visiting local coffee roasters in his hometown of Porto Alegre, where he began to learn about the different types of roasts, brewing methods, and the intricacies involved in making a great cup of coffee. This deeper knowledge motivated him to continue exploring coffee at home, where he experimented using different brewing methods such as the Aeropress and the Hario pour-overs. The next logical step for Francisco was to become a barista; after all, he had spent a great deal of time learning about specialty coffee since his return from Tanzania. So, in February of 2020, Francisco became a barista at a specialty coffee shop and continued to further his passion and admiration for coffee.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Francisco was unable to work as a barista for an extensive period, as the specialty coffee shop had to be closed — it was likely the best thing to have happened to Francisco. Luck found its way back into Francisco’s life when his friend, who had just opened a café right before the pandemic, asked if he would be interested in taking over the newly opened establishment. Along with his girlfriend — who is a pastry chef –, a digital influencer, a designer, and a baker; Francisco took a leap of faith and took on the challenge of running the café at the height of the pandemic in Brazil.
The opening of the café was a success from the get-go,
“We started an Instagram account, put our brand out there, and started selling coffee, bread, and Banoffee pie,” he explains. “And that was it. We went viral and after one week we had over 1000 followers on Instagram.”
When speaking about the café operations during these challenging times, Francisco explained that the first three months only involved takeout, for they were unable to have customers in-store due to social distancing guidelines. “I would deliver about thirty orders per day in the first three months. As for the coffee, we would only sell ground or whole beans,” he adds. The location of the café became of great importance in September, for it is located in a tight-knit cultural association with a quaint outdoor patio where customers can enjoy their food and drinks. “They were recording a movie here at the cultural association this past September and that really helped boost our coffee sales, as we had a lot of customers using the patio,” he comments.
Francisco has no doubts that this is the biggest challenge of his life so far. “My girlfriend and I have only known each other for five months — I actually asked her out on my first day at the specialty coffee shop back in February — so we are still very much getting to know each other. Nonetheless, we came together as a team of five people and we did not know each other well but we shared the determination to apply and work on a concept that involved serving real food, valuing every step of the food production process, and ultimately delivering something that makes every customer feel cherished.
While there were many risks involved in the process, Francisco and his team’s efforts paid off.
“I am happy. I always say that I was very much welcomed by my team and they really have grown to become part of my family. It was also a mental relief during the pandemic, as I had been at home for three months and now I get to come here and do what I love.”
The café is named after the Portuguese word “Dengo,” which loosely translates to affection. Dengo is built on the idea that by cultivating customer relationships in a way that demonstrates care and attention, customers will feel valued, respected, and cherished; and in turn, they will keep coming back for more Dengo. Additionally, Francisco is determined to introduce more and more people to specialty coffee, for he firmly believes that Brazilians deserve to have higher quality coffee as their standard.
If you are ever in Porto Alegre, make sure to stop by for a dose of affection at Dengo — and maybe a cup of coffee and a slice of Banoffee pie, too!
Disclaimer: This article is not sponsored. As always, all articles at I’M NOT A BARISTA aim to connect the global coffee community and empower the people behind the cups. We do not charge or take any commission by promoting people and businesses on our platform. However, if you want to support us, you can make a donation through Paypal or make a purchase in our shop, we donate all profit to help baristas in need.
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Wendelien van Bunnik
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