Bolsa de Café, or Palácio da Bolsa Oficial do Café, is a museum located at Rua XV de Novembro, in the historic center of the municipality of Santos, state of São Paulo, Brazil. After a restoration in 1998, the palace was reopened as the Coffee Museum.
First installed in a rented hall in the city center, Bolsa do Café moved in 1922 to the palace, built especially for its activities, which operated until the late 1970s, when it was abandoned.
Created by federal decree, it began its activities in 1917 in a small office on Rua XV de Novembro with Rua do Comércio, in the city center. The place had functional rooms that differed little from the internal environment of Commissioners or Exporters of the time.
With the increase in the volume of negotiations, the construction of its own headquarters became a priority issue. And, from a small office to a palace, the story of the new headquarters of the Official Coffee Exchange architecturally reflects the symbolic construction of the space to be occupied by coffee in Brazil and abroad.
Museu do Café, in addition of being one of main institutions responsible for preservation of coffee history in Brazil, is a reference of quality in commercializing this product by its coffee shop. With daily flow of 600 people and sales of about 450 cups of coffee per day, Cafeteria do Museu is awarded by Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Café (Abic) with Premium status, in national scope program Quality Coffee Circle. It also received by sequential seven years (2007 – 2013) the title of best Coffee Shop in Santos by Veja magazine.
For these and many other reasons, Cafeteria do Museu is a mandatory stop for tourists and residents who pass at Centro Historic Center of Santos. Place in downstairs of Bolsa Oficial de Café building, Cafeteria do Museu offers a pleasant and comfortable environment, perfect to taste a good coffee. Its menu goes beyond than the traditional espresso. There’re several options of hot and cold drinks, beverages and coffee sweets, sandwiches and salty dishes in addition to most variable producing regions of coffee to taste for here or to go it.
Bolsa Oficial de Café, space where Museu do Café is installed, is an exclusive architecture building. Richness of details inside and outside of palace reflects power of coffee economy to the time of its construction.
Museu do Café is reference to relate grain course in Brazil and in the world. Its expositions approach details from plantation to cup, passing by market and curiosities about product.
In April 1986, São Paulo State government, by decree 24,961, took actions for extinction of Bolsa Oficial de Café, which had been ceased its activities in 1960’s. All furniture, workers and own building, from that moment on, was Department of Finance’s responsibility. But, occupied only partly and without due conditions for its preservation, the building went through by degradation process, which resulted in threat of tower falling in 1996. A committee was created to analyze this situation and was found that such damages are not restricted only for tower, and a huge intervention in the building was required.
This situation was taken to governor and, by decree # 40,822, in May, 10th 1996, a work group was established, made by public bodies and private companies to study the availability of creation of a Museu do Café in Bolsa Oficial de Café building.
At first instance, and emergency feature, the group aimed to “save” Bolsa tower. Associação Comercial de Santos President, José Moreira da Silva, and Associação Centro Vivo President, Eduardo Carvalhaes Filho, highlighted the need of structure recovering of building by State Government and creation of a Museu do Café with support from private initiative.
The restoration was approved and project chosen was from Oficina R, by architect Samuel Kruschin, begun in 1997. In the next year, in March 12th, was created the Associação dos Amigos do Museu do Café Brasileiro.
In the beginning, the Museum offered visits only at a room named Auction Room, in addition to receiving temporary exhibitions and events. In 1999, Centro de Preparação do Café (CPC) was created with technical support by Sindicato da Indústria do Café no Estado de São Paulo (Sindicafe). CPC still have a great importance for education of baristas and recognition of this job.For economic availability of Museum and to contribute for disclosure of Brazilian coffee to visitors, mainly gourmet coffee, Museum Coffee Shop was opened in the following year.Which offers coffee from different Brazilian regions, in addition to sophisticated drinks. Its implementation was only possible with Funcafe budget and with support from Sindicafe and Abic.
Other mark for Museum was in 2005, where long-term exhibition A trajetória do café no Brasil was opened. Assembled with own collection from Museum, acquired in a campaign for collection poll, and some lent pieces, it occupied part of downstairs and first floor of building.In 2008, the Association qualified as Social Culture Organization, assigning an agreement with State Secretariat of Culture in Sao Paulo. This transformation enabled a growth to Coffee Museum, extending its technical staff and his activities, reinforcing as reference among museums in the State and in Brazil.
The construction of the Palace, in an eclectic style, is considered the most important work of the period, having been the first building of the style to be listed by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN), in 2009. With copper domes, large sculptures, stained glass, marbles, the work of foreign craftsmen and works of art built the discourse that related the coffee elite to the first pioneers as pioneer builders of a nation captained by São Paulo.
The panels and stained glass by Benedito Calixto, in the portentous trading room, are of fundamental importance in the visual translation of this speech: in the triptych, the painter imagines the scene of the reading of the Vila de Santos charter by Braz Cubas; on the side panels, the representation of Vila de Santos in 1822 compared to the city in 1922; and, finally, the stained glass window that creates – with pennants, agriculture, the port, and coffee – a mythology of the nation.
This complex and dense set of information, combined with several Masonic symbols – such as the six-pointed star on the floor of the trading floor, the organization of the chair and the columns – send a clear message of the strength of the presence of coffee in the wealth of Brazil.
Bolsa Oficial de Café building is known by its eclectic architect, resulting from combination of different architectonic movements in a single work without producing new stile. Neoclassic and Baroque stiles are predominated at building.
Stained Glass Entry
In entry of Museum, a small stained glass above the doors with symbol of “United States of Brazil”, name of the country in the opening this building, was observed and it remained there until 1967. Brazil Coat of Arms was also observed, composed by two branches: one of coffee and another of smoke, which represented two most important crops for Brazil in Proclamation of Republic in 1889.
Place where deals were performed which determined daily quotes of coffee bags. Tradings were performed in 1922 Auction Room by the end of 1950’s. Composed by 81 chairs (including the president one), Auction Room also has one stained glass and three paintings from Sao Paulo-Benedicto Calixto painter. Currently, due to stateliness and beauty, it’s one of main attractions of Museum.
Located in the corner of Tuiuti Street, Clocktower has about 40 meters, i.e., double of height of Bolsa Oficial de Café. At the top, four sculptures are placed, which represent agriculture, commerce, industry and Sailor.
Previously, notion of time was made by church bells. It’s believed that when clocks arrived, a meaningful change in population routine was observed, and Bolsa was used as reference of time in people everyday.
There’s few information about this coffee baggage man. Jacinto was a coffee baggage man who piled up to 5 bags of 132.28lb each, summarizing about 661lb in this back: then, he became a legend. Some of them said he was from Portugal; others said he participated in strength contest at pier and he received the nickname “Samson of pier”.
The only real information received was postcards dated in the first decade of 20th century, where his picture appears. Today dockworkers and baggers agree that the maximum weight supported by a person is about 264lb (two bags): due to this fact, some of them doubt if that bag weighted, indeed, about 132lb.
This space where today is Preservation, Research, and Reference Center, in downstairs floor, was Cash Settlement, where securities negotiated in trading were realized and then paid.
Coffee barons watched trading sessions in mezzanine. The remaining floor was divided into rooms where Cash Settlement, Union Camber of Public Funds, and headquarters of companies were located.
The large rating room at old Bolsa Oficial de Café was placed in an insulator place on second floor and it was linked to secretariat by special elevator for coffee samples. The remaining floor was particularly designated to headquarters of exporter companies.
The third floor was specially projected for intermediator offices. More than 30 compartments were available.
In current exhibition room “Coffee and Work”, in the past, was “Secretariat of Bolsa”, whose communication for exterior was done by entrance under tower, where deliveries of coffee samples to be classified in rating offices were performed on second floor.
The third floor was used until 1970s as Clube da Bolsa. This place had library, play rooms and a restaurant, which was opened for partners and their visitors.
One of the main tourist spots in the city of Santos, the Coffee Museum was created in 1998 with the aim of preserving and disseminating the historic relationship between coffee and the country. Among objects and documents that make up its collection, it is possible to see how the evolution of coffee growing and the political, economic and cultural development of the country are closely linked.
The close relationship between coffee growing and the development of Brazil is recorded in the long-term exhibition “The trajectory of coffee in Brazil”. Divided into three modules – Coffee and work, Coffee and new routes and Santos and the port – the exhibition allows visitors a real journey through time. The tour through history begins with the arrival of the first seedlings of the plant in the country, goes through the professionalization of plantations and labor, the arrival of Japanese and European immigrants to work in the fields and helps to contextualize, through panels and models, wealth and progress driven by coffee, such as the expansion of the railway network in the State of São Paulo and the development of the port of Santos, for example.
The Coffee Museum also regularly holds temporary exhibitions that contemplate periods and specific aspects of the history of coffee in Brazil. In its facilities, the Coffee Museum also has an Information and Documentation Center – which has in its collection several publications and documents about coffee and its history and is open to the public for free visitation – and the Coffee Preparation Center, which offers courses related to knowledge and preparation of the drink.
More than the main responsible for preserving the history of coffee, the Coffee Museum is also a reference in the commercialization of the product through its cafeteria. Inaugurated in 2000, the Cafeteria do Museu has on its menu several beverage options that have coffee as their main ingredient. It also has a wide variety of grains, produced in different regions of Brazil, available to visitors to enjoy on the spot or take home. Currently the Museum Cafeteria works with Cerrado de Minas, Sul de Minas, Alta Mogiana, Chapadão do Ferro, Cafeteria Blend, Orgânico, Vale da Grama, and Jacu Bird Coffee. The latter is the most expensive and rare coffee in Brazil, obtained from the beans expelled by the bird Jacu, which feeds on the fruits of coffee.
Education of Museu do Café is the dialog connection of institution with visitors, going beyond offering exhibitions. The main objective is to transmit the rich history of coffee in simple and ludic way for public, perform an excellent service and make the Museum as an acknowledged reference place in learning propagation.
The sector prepares activities which develop perception and stimulate public to deepen even more in coffee history in Brazil and in the world. Different options of programs of attending are offered, contemplating guided and thematic visits, in addition to interactive dynamics for school public and other visitors of Museum.