A health problem forced the young businesswoman to adopt a healthier lifestyle, avoiding packaged and processed foods. In her search for better options, the lack of speciality shops in and around Lagos weighed in on her decision and, last December, she opened her own sustainable food shop.
A state-of-the-art organic store, Grãos de Amor (or Love Grains) has a modern concept. The excellent location and good natural lighting combine to make this innovative project what it is. “The shop has no price tags in order to reduce waste and minimise our ecological footprint. It’s simply decorated with a friendly and welcoming service,” says Telma.
Grãos de Amor has since become very popular, especially among local residents and tourists who have become regular customers. Both show their preference for organic Portuguese products, and natural cosmetics are the most popular items.
While not all the products are manufactured in Portugal, such as the imported cocoa, most are biologically certified. The chickpeas from the Alentejo do not hold this certificate but they come from natural, rain-fed farming, which, according to Telma, “has as much quality as the biological ones”. According to the owner of Grãos de Amor, the shop also offers good-quality, natural and organic wines, with no added sulphites, both local and national. The store uses paper bags instead of plastic to avoid waste, and customers can bring in their own bottles and packaging, which can be sanitised in the shop at no extra cost.
Telma and her partner José Diogo Moreira hope to attract and educate visitors to their philosophy of healthy eating and a better lifestyle.
Establishing partnerships with Portuguese brands is another major goal for Grãos de Amor. Telma highlights a project by the University of Coimbra that produces detergents from used cooking oil, to eliminate the components which negatively affect the environment, and are available at the shop.
Her entire business philosophy is based on quality national products, such as the dried fig, which is produced in a farm in Silves using artisanal methods. The fruit is left under the sun to dry, with no added sugars, and this product alone brings in clients from all over who say the quality is far superior to the ones found in the local market.
The shop has a vast menu and Telma highlights one that is a true reference in the Algarve region: alcagoitas, more commonly known in Portugal as amendoins (or peanuts). They are produced by a company based in Aljezur, which also produces its own peanut butter.
The shop itself has revived the tradition of grinding the grain on a stone mill, which gives it a unique consistency.
Another standout at the shop are the teas. Produced by a company from Porto that makes Japanese green tea, brewed in casks of Port wine, it has a wonderful taste.
Cinnamon and almonds roasted with honey are also popular, something sublime to the palate.
As for what’s next, Telma already has a plan: “In the near future, I want to increase the supply of food products, create a production area to provide breakfast on the upper floor and increase the sales space in the basement,” she reveals.
Located in the town centre, Grãos de Amor is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am (10.30am on Saturday) to 7pm.