By Ava Anderson, Franklin High School’s The Franklin Post
Favela Cafe opened in August of 2019 as “a Brazilian experience,” Rodrigo Souza recalls. He is the co-owner of Favela Cafe, with his wife Dunya De Souza. Favela Cafe originally opened on SE Foster Rd., and has since added a newer location in Taborspace, on SE Belmont St. They offer Brazilian coffee, food, imports and a variety of community events, all allowing visitors to experience Brazil. With its electric energy, colors, open space and varied plants, the Foster location models Brazil during a carnival; its Taborspace location, found alongside other businesses in a beautiful old church, combines elements of Brazilian and American culture. Both locations have their own unique features, but share a community-based approach that gives every visitor a community oriented and personal experience of Brazil.
Favela Cafe is “an experiment to prove that it’s possible to have a business with the community in mind,” explains R. Souza. The owners wanted people visiting the cafe to know they are a part of the community. “Anyone can sell coffee,” R. Souza states, “[but] we give a human experience … we notice people’s names, ask [questions]. We know what’s happening and they know us. They are a part of our family in a way.” As D. Souza summarizes, “[we] acknowledge people’s humanity.”
Not only do they pay attention to the people who visit Favela, but they also listen. “We have an attitude of saying “yes” to people,” D. Souza explains. “The community is the most important thing.” If someone proposes an idea, Favela listens, and most often, says “yes.”
This “yes” attitude is reflected in community events Favela creates. One customer asked to start a chess group, and was happily told “yes,” despite the owners knowing little about chess. Now, if you visit Favela on Sundays, you can take part in a thriving chess group.
Chess isn’t the only group that meets at the cafe. There are many other groups available, especially ones centered around language. There are Italian meetups on Wednesdays, Portuguese meetings on Saturdays, as well as meetups emphasizing Spanish, French, German and more. If you are looking for a group to join, it may be well worth your time to look at what Favela offers. In addition, if you want to start a group, Favela is always happy to listen.
Favela also hosts many other events, such as movie nights, music and more. Events offered typically depend on each location’s space. Groups are held at both locations; music is planned to be held mainly at Taborspace due to the large show space. While the first music event at Taborspace was held only recently, Favela plans to offer much more music in the future and is hoping to expand into comedy.
The location of Taborspace was not in the owners’ original plan. However, it has provided many benefits, such as the possibility of hosting larger music events. Favela was invited to join Taborspace due to their emphasis on community. As a location centered on community, Taborspace holds many of the same values.
The building initially closed due to COVID-19. After it reopened, those at Taborspace wanted to bring back the community the old building had once contained. Now, there’s a “kid’s school downstairs, a therapist upstairs, birthday parties [hosted],” and much more, R. Souza explains. Favela’s community values made them the perfect people to run a coffee shop in Taborspace.
Although the two Favela locations are only a seven-minute drive from one another, they are immensely different–“worlds away,” D. Souza emphasizes. The Foster location boasts a wider food selection and a more immersive experience, whereas the Taborspace location offers more events. If you visit Favela, you are sure to find amazing events, communities, foods and drinks. Some of the most popular are the gluten-free Brazilian cheese bread and the signature drink, Cafe Doce De Leite, which is made with homemade caramel butter. A visit to either Favela Cafe is worthwhile for anyone. At both locations, you are also sure to be greeted kindly, as a valued member of the community or an old friend.
Favela Cafe 5300 SE Foster Rd.
Taborspace 5441 SE Belmont St.
Favela Cafe on SE Foster Rd. Photo by Ava Anderson.