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Bar Copo: The Brazilian home you never knew you had

Bar Copo: The Brazilian home you never knew you had

It’s hard not to get swept up in Bar Copo’s charms.

For such a small space, the welcome you feel once you step foot inside is mammoth and, for somebody who has never been to Brazil, it has an almost supernatural ability to make you feel like it’s the place you’ve been destined to be your whole life.

And that is the point.

Everything at Bar Copo is geared towards a central value of Brazil’s famous botecos (the small, neighbourhood bars scattered throughout Brazil): being an extension of the owner’s own home.

And judging by the crowd that began to flood in soon after myself and Gui Passos (Bar Copo Co-owner & Manager) had finished chatting, it’s hard to argue against its success in bringing an authentic South American experience to our shores. Me and the crew were just about the only non-South Americans in the place.

It’s safe to say that this trip to Bondi was amongst my favourites, as Gui and his team proudly showed me the fruits of their labour.


It’s a very personal space

Bar Copo opened with what can only be described as unfortunate timing, right at the start of the global pandemic that saw the world grind to a halt.

Gui: “We were open for two weeks and we were very busy. I felt like we served every single Brazilian in Sydney in those two weeks. And then we closed without any idea of if we were going to survive and actually reopen.”

Thankfully, Gui and his team were quick to adapt, introducing a takeaway version of their offerings, Copo em Casa, which, if nothing else, garnered some goodwill amongst a strong, local South American population stranded far away from home.

And it’s these home comforts that Bar Copo specialises in. Their whole concept centres around bringing people into what Gui feels is an extension of his own home, complete with pictures of his family on the walls.

Gui: “For me, it’s the culmination of everything that I’ve worked for. We are a boteco. The boteco is, in this case, my home and I am the host to everybody that comes in.” 

I cannot describe just how thoroughly Gui and his team have accomplished this. I felt both transported and home in an instant.


“For me, it’s what represents the bar culture in Brazil.”

Everything at Bar Copo is about showcasing what an authentic Brazilian experience is all about. The electricity in the air as a live samba band seasons the street with their music, paired with the bustling atmosphere and vibrancy inside is infectious and it’s impossible not to dive in, head first, and immerse yourself in everything going on around you. It’s a feeling like no other.

Gui: “If I had to put the core feeling that I want people to feel here at Copo, I want you to feel like you’ve been transported to Brazil.”

The lengths gone through in service of bringing such a feeling to their guests enters an almost subliminal realm with something as seemingly inconsequential as a glass. Indeed, such is the significance of the Copo Americano, Gui was compelled to name the place in its honour.

Gui: “I took it for granted for most of my life—the copo—just because it’s everywhere, it’s omnipresent in a Brazilian’s life. And then you leave the country and the copo is not there anymore for you. And that’s when we start realising how much of a symbol it is in the Brazilian lifestyle. For me, it’s what represents the bar culture in Brazil. It’s the glass.”

I can testify to the virtues of the copo glass. It is without doubt the nicest form of drinking: beer poured from a big jug into a tiny glass and shared with friends. Who knew the Brazilians had this whole drinking thing figured out all along?


“There is a letter in the middle that you guys don’t even have in English.”

But it’s not just wholesome beer drinking on the Bar Copo drinks menu. There’s another staple of Brazilian culture that, perhaps, you might not have heard about: cachaça.

Gui: “It was something that we were worried about when we were developing the concept. We were like, cachaça people can’t even pronounce. There is a letter in the middle that you guys don’t even have in English. Like, how are you going to do that?”

It is a very good thing that not being able to pronounce something doesn’t mean you can’t have it because Bar Copo is the Mecca of cachaça in Sydney—perhaps the whole of Australia.

Gui: “I feel like people are always, especially when they come through that door, they want to try something new, they want me to hit them with something that they’ve never tried. Luckily I have a lot of stuff like that here, exotic things.”

Gui gave me a guided tour of his personal favourites, all of which I’d never heard of. When, in an effort to seem cool, I mentioned the only cachaça most Australians would be aware of (Sagatiba), he looked at me like I’d just told him Cristiano was the superior Ronaldo (he’s not. O Fenômeno for life!).

I was quickly advised that Bar Copo’s shelves will never feature Sagatiba and we moved onto the wine list.

Gui: “It’s not something that we drink much in Brazil, to be honest with you. But again, to be a boteco, you’ve got to be a neighbourhood bar, right? So in my understanding, that will change depending on the neighbourhood that you are in. And Australians do drink wine.”

This awareness and respect for the neighbourhood is the Brazilian boteco’s sense of community on full display. There are not many better examples of why Bar Copo is such a special place.


“I think that’s the best word to put it: proud.

Through the adversity of their staggered beginnings and some unfamiliar, albeit delicious, Brazilian offerings, Bar Copo has emerged a thriving neighbourhood fixture. It’s a place where anybody can come and enjoy themselves in whichever way they choose, whether that’s dancing the night away to the live music, or sitting down and sharing a squealer of Copo Chopp with a friend. 

Bar Copo is a place that makes it possible.

“I think that’s the best word to put it: proud. I feel very proud that we achieved that. We really wanted to have a versatile environment. One of the best feedbacks we ever have here is when people tell us we are doing something different than what others do, and somehow we are injecting some of our culture and bringing more life to a neighbourhood that is already so cultural and so alive. Yeah, it’s pretty nice.”

It’s this success that sees Gui looking to the future with a healthy dose of optimism. His concept has worked, Bondi and the rest of Sydney is on board and I dare say there isn’t a neighbourhood that wouldn’t be improved with a boteco of its own.

“We have big goals for ourselves in the hospitality industry here in Sydney. And I think Copo was our introduction. It gave us a lot of confidence for a bigger next step.”

And wherever that next step is, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a starry-eyed Englishman beating the doors down come opening day, armed with more Brazil-centric trivia to impress his new best friend.

Learn more about Bar Copo and how Graeme cooks “the best sandwich he’s ever had.”

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More of this topic: Beyond The Pass