You may be surprised to know the popular Brazilian spirit “cachaça” is a drink approximately over four centuries. The beverage made of sugarcane is distilled from the fermented cane juice and it was first consumed by slaves on sugarcane plantations in the country’s northeast in the mid-1500s.
Cachaça is divided into two types according to its method of production: industrial and artisanal. And it features the most popular drink coming from Brazil: caipirinha.
Nowadays Brazil produces 800 million litres of cachaça a year with only 1% of this production exported.
Meanwhile, the success of the product inside Brazil has brought us to Arte da Cachaça, a shop located in Santos, São Paulo, specialised in the best brands of artisanal cachaça produced in several parts of Brazil.
With a list of 180 to 200 different types of spirit, Arte da Cachaça has become a great source place for long-time lovers and new to the deal people interested to know one of the most famous Brazilian goods.
Midlands Traveller: To start, I’d like you to tell me your professional background.
José Roberto: I worked for 30 years at a major airline (Varig), where I had the chance to meet dozens of countries, and different habits and cultures.
This experience, combined with the several courses within the company, that was from the customer service to Sommelier, that allowed me today to have great ease in dealing with the most varied kind of customers.
And to open a store offering quality services and became an expert in Cachaça.
I did several courses and today I am a Master Cachacier, who is the qualification to act in the various segments of the cachaça market. From the planting of sugar cane to the marketing, production, ageing, blend preparation, consulting the bars, restaurants and so on.
Midlands Traveller: How and when did you have the idea of opening your business?
José Roberto: After the closure of Varig, and realised that there was no time to set up a business.
As a fan of cachaça, I have knowledge about shops specialised in the market that called my attention. I thought along with my wife and partner on business, why not adding one good thing to another? So we chose to open a shop specialised in Artisanal Cachaças, which was launched in February 2010.
Midlands Traveller: Why choose artisanal cachaça as a business?
José Roberto: Cachaça is divided into two types according to its method of production: industrial and artisanal.
The industrial one is produced on a large scale and of low quality. It’s easily found in any supermarket, bar and other establishments. The artisanal is produced on a small scale, by small producers with care and dedication, which leads to producing an excellent Cachaça.
Midlands Traveller: What is the difference between these products?
José Roberto: The big difference between cachaça industrial to artisanal is the way it is produced:
- a) Industrial uses baking powder while handmade natural yeast;
- b) industrial: distillation without separation — which means, a continuous process, where all the distillate will be bottling. A procedure that takes many components harmful to one’s health.
The Artisanal: The separation is made into three parts: where the first and last 10 to 15% are scorned, using only the middle of the distillate, also called as “heart”.
This way the artisanal Cachaça becomes a product of excellent quality and provides an unparalleled sensory experience.
Midlands Traveller: Do you work with as many types of cachaça nowadays?
José Roberto: We work on average with 180 to 200 different types.
Midlands Traveller: What are the challenges of this type of business?
José Roberto: Like any specialised business activity, the first step is to search for the type of client in this niche.
In the case of cachaça, we also have to overcome the prejudice and ignorance about the product, which despite being a Brazilian product with approximately over 500 years of existence, it still suffers some economic barriers mainly caused by cheap brands of bad quality and widely distributed in all shops.
So in a store like ours, we need to undo this view, offering a high-quality distillate and that nothing is due to the best in the world.
Midlands Traveller: what is the secret to keeping customers interested in your products?
José Roberto: Great service, respect for the consumer, product knowledge, news, always attentive to the expectations of the customers.
Midlands Traveller: what’s your type of clientele?
José Roberto: Long-time lovers, above 30 years, new fans who see the growing artisanal cachaça in the media, bars and restaurants, come in search of new experiences. Recalling further that are customers of both genders and noting that consumption among women, is increasing considerably.
Midlands Traveller: What’s your advice for those who want to get started in the cachaça market?
José Roberto: Professionalism, dedication and love for what you do. After all, if you don’t drink Rum tasting with friends and have a good chat. In this way, knowledge is fundamental in order to understand the desire and suggest the perfect rum for each client.
Midlands Traveller: What else can we expect from Arte da Cachaça in 2016?
José Roberto: Always be aware of new releases. We always put much effort and dedication in order to surprise positively our clients with different sensory experiences.