New Cafe Slated for Brady Street
Sweet Joy Brazilian Cafe would serve coffee, acai smoothies and snacks at former Brewed Cafe.
When Marcia Joy‘s son was young, she used to drop him off at Tamarack Waldorf School on Brady Street, then walk a few blocks down the street to grab a coffee at Brewed Cafe. Five years have passed since then, and her son attends a different school, but Joy can still be found frequenting the little cafe — this time, as the owner.
The accomplished pastry chef, chocolatier and force behind the Sweet Joy Brigadeiro business is planning to open Sweet Joy Brazilian Cafe in the space, 1208 E. Brady St., bringing Brazilian sweets and baked goods, as well as smoothies and coffee to the Lower East Side neighborhood.
A native of Brazil, Joy spent her 20s in Germany, where she developed a love of chocolate making while helping out in a friend’s shop.
“The chocolate was actually just a hobby,” said Joy, adding that this new venture is “totally different” from her career as a flight attendant. She also holds a degree in business administration.
Learning culinary techniques firsthand was also new for Joy, who grew up watching her mother, a professional chef, work masterfully in the kitchen. “I was just watching, watching, but it was never really hands-on,” she said.
As her confidence grew, Joy began to experiment with brigadieros, a traditional Brazilian truffle, incorporating handmade chocolate into the sweets, which are traditionally made with chocolate powder. The result was a richer, cacao-forward brigadeiro with subtle sweetness and a deep chocolate flavor.
“It became something more gourmet and more classy,” Joy said.
Joy worked alongside Bieser in the early days of Tabal, which she said is credited as the first bean-to-bar chocolate company in the area. All the while, Joy continued to create her signature brigadieros, even leading community workshops on making the sweets.
In 2016, Joy took the $10 in her pocket, purchased ingredients and sold her first batch of brigadieros. Just like that, Sweet Joy Brigadeiro was born. The confectionary continued to operate up until the pandemic, which caused Joy to put the business on hold.
Meanwhile, she broadened her skillset, working as a pastry chef in various high-end restaurants throughout the Greater Milwaukee area.
With the worst of the pandemic seemingly in the rearview mirror, Joy said she felt ready to reintroduce her business — this time with a new name, look and expanded menu.
The reinvented version, Sweet Joy Brazilian Cafe, will showcase high-quality espresso and other Brazilian treats such as acai (ah-sigh-see) bowls and smoothies and pão de queijo, or cheesy bread.
Joy said she is particularly excited to offer acai bowls and smoothies, which will be topped with a choice of fruit, granola or chocolate pieces. Acai’s signature purple color comes from the antioxidant-rich berries that are native to Brazil.
The cafe will offer a full range of hot and iced coffee, espresso drinks and tea, as well as dairy and alternative milk options. Coffee beans will be sourced from farms in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, to which Joy has connections through Bieser of Tabal.
Guests to Sweet Joy will be greeted immediately with the smell of coffee and fresh chocolate, said Joy, who plans to set up her chocolate grinder near the door so that customers can watch the chocolate-making process in action.
The cafe also features a variety of seating options including a couch, high-top tables, small tables for work and meetings and banquette window seating.
A fresh coat of forest green paint and new flooring makes the cafe space nearly unrecognizable from its Brewed days, though a unique, Michelangelo-eque ceiling mural remains untouched.
Joy said she is excited to join the Brady Street scene as a unique new addition. “Even though it’s a Brazilian place, my goal is not to fulfill only the Brazilians, it’s really to have more international traffic,” she said, emphasizing that she’d like for her business to be a welcoming place for everyone seeking a daily coffee stop.
“I always say, everybody has their place here,” she said.
More updates on the cafe and eventual opening date will be posted to the Sweet Joy Brazilian Cafe Instagram.