There is a hidden gem on the faja of Vimes located on Sao Jorge in the Azores islands. This gem is one of many, I'm sure, as we continue to unearth the wealth of Sao Jorge. We drove out to the faja Vimes and found a unique, little cafe. We placed our order at the counter and selected a table with a view. Steaming espresso cups soon arrived and we sat back to enjoy our first sips of luscious, home grown coffee.
Welcome to Cafe Nunes, the only coffee plantation in Europe.
After our indulgence in two cups each of espresso, we were greeted by Dina Nunes. Dina is the daughter of proprietor, Manuel Nunes. Dina regaled us during a tour of her home and shared with us the history of her father’s coffee endeavor. Coffee plants had always thrived among various hearty fruits and vegetables growing in the backyard of the Nunes’ property. Dina explained her family currently has several hundred coffee plants growing elsewhere on the faja; the climate is ideal for Arabica beans. Coffee harvest had ended, typically May - August, but the plants were already flowering again during our September visit. Dina explained the hand processing technique; dry the beans, shell the beans, and roast the beans under careful watch not to burn. Dina was fabulously energetic and passionate about her family's coffee plantation.
Grape seeds now dry where coffee beans would normally be dryied during harvest. The grape seeds are ground, then typically added to cereal at the Nunes breakfast table.
Dina shared with us her mother's work-space also. Dina's mother makes bedspreads, the old-fashioned way, preserving the art of Azorian loom work. Dina apologized when we walked into the room, the bedspreads we saw were for display and her mother had nothing available to sell. "The summer is very busy with people coming for the coffee," she explained. Bedspreads are made to order enabling customers to select their pattern, size, and color preferences.
The Nunes family has been gaining publicly, slowly, for their hobbies. Dina and her father were recently interviewed for an article in the New York Times
, just one of several previously written articles about the family’s plantation and handicrafts.
Dina shared that her family began serving their coffee when the women would gather to do handicrafts, or to view her mother's work. "It's nice to share the work and to have a conversation with a cup of coffee," she said. People started talking about the faja coffee and venturing to Vimes for a taste. Word spread. Despite recent attention, Dina's father has no plans to expand his business but simply to continue farming and to continue to welcome curious visitors. We enjoyed our visit with Dina, and of course, the coffee.