Cuban Coffee

When I returned from my most recent trip to the states, half of my suitcase was stuffed with coffee beans. Coffee culture here is very different than in Seattle – there are plenty of Starbucks but we haven’t found lots of local roasters. So when Stacy and I spotted the little shop near our house with a sign saying “Coffee Roaster”, we were curious. It was closed, but a few weeks later I walked past and noticed it had an open sign.

I popped my head into the tiny shop and found a single room packed from floor to ceiling with coffee beans and every kind of coffee making device ever invented. Against one wall was a small table and two chairs. In the back of the room, there was a door half open revealing a small roaster. After a few minutes of calling out, a man emerged from the back room. He seem surprised to see a customer and even more surprised to see an American standing in his shop. We chatted for a few minutes, and then he sat me down to try his new favorite bean… from Cuba.

I’d never thought of Cuba as much of a coffee producing region. After all, when’s the last time you saw Cuban Beans featured at any coffee shop? The shopkeeper fired up his kettle, carefully weighed a serving of coffee, and made me a cup. “Tastings are free!” he enthusiastically told me. I looked around the room while I waited for the water to boil and the reason I’d never seen Cuban coffee for sale at Starbucks dawned on me – the trade embargo. Of course! Cuban coffee could be the best thing ever, but us Americans would never know.

The Cuban coffee was light, citrusy, and very bright flavored. I tend toward dark, chocolatey coffee but this was definitely some quality stuff. The shopkeeper told me it’s best prepared drip or pour and he wouldn’t recommend using it in an espresso machine or even a french press.

(If you happen to be a US Government Official concerned that I may have violated any sort of trade embargoes, the post above is a work of fiction.)

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Inside the coffee shop.

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The roaster peeking out from the back room.

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Sitting in one of the two chairs tasting Cuban coffee.


2 Replies

  1. Leslie Reply

    Very cool experience. I think you guys will stumble across more and more of these sorts of things and places. There’s a random place like this near where we live and I’ve been meaning to stop in for ages. There’s just enough room in the little shop for big burlap bags and bags of coffee beans. I’ll report back when I finally make it in there.

    • aaron Reply

      Definitely report back! A few years ago, The Burke Museum had an exhibit about coffee. They showed a map highlighting the top 20 coffee producing regions and the top 20 coffee consuming regions. There was no overlap.