Cuba is well known for producing one of the most sought after coffees in the world. With the Castro Cuban scenario over the past 60 years, the US trade and international embargo, as well as many other issues Cubans have encountered, their coffee production dropped significantly making it difficult to acquire. Given the equation of high demand plus short supply, their prices often vary dramatically without notice. Nonetheless, their coffee story is one for the ages, and at Coyotes we are pleased to share it with you.
Cuba began planting beans in the Sierra Maestro Mountains in the mid-18th century. Its natural climate and geography is almost identical to the climate Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee and it is grown just 150 miles to the south east. For those familiar with Jamaican Blue Mountain, it is one of the world’s most expensive and prized coffees.
At its peak coffee production, Cuba exported 20,000 tons of coffee annually prior to the revolution. After the revolution in 1956, the quality and quantity of Cuban coffee drastically declined. The revolution in 1956 led to the coffee industry becoming simply a government commodity. The decline in quality is directly associated with replacing the skilled farmers for unskilled workers in order to keep up with demand, as well as the inevitable migration of the rural workers into cities. The family-owned, operated and perfected farms were placed under government control and the decline in quality was evident. Even with attempts to reverse this, the industry has never rebuilt itself to what it once was. However, over the past decade Cuban coffee has come back to life a new renaissance of sorts and it has flourished. The quality has been raised dramatically due to improved farming techniques, higher prices, demand for specialty grade coffee, and revitalized government support of Cuban-made products.
Cuban coffee is most available in Japan and France, as the European coffee culture has fallen in love with Cuban coffee, and it is well known that the Japanese are also the ones who are buying the best crops around the world including Cuban and have been doing so for the past 20 years.
In particular, Japan prizes the Crystal Mountain beans most. These beans exude a sweet, nutty, full-body with low acidity, and the Japanese only buy the largest beans. Although their ability to continue to buy these beans has declined, they still place Cuban coffee as top rated.
Cuban Serrano and Turquino coffee is now being coveted as Crystal Mountain, is almost impossible to get. Interestingly, both these varietals are now receiving great reviews in coffee cuppings, which is drawing the attention of the coffee connoisseurs around the world. These beans are grown and cultivated under the forest canopies of the Seirra Maestra Mountains within rich soils and grown without the use of chemical products. The Seirra Maestra mountain range extends eastward from Cape Cruz to the Guantanamo River Valley. The mountains rise quickly from the coast coming to Cuba’s highest peak at 6,476 fee above sea level. This peak is known as Turquino Peak, believed to be named after the turquoise views of the island at that view point. Soils at this altitude are rich in copper, iron, manganese, silver, chromium and marble. These attributes not only help the cultivation of many hard woods such as mahogany and cedar but also lend nutrients to the coffee plants that flourish there.
Overall, Cuban coffees are known for their bold, full-body, nutty flavour and they work wonderfully as an espresso or a pressed coffee. They can be roasted either as Medium or Dark, which is rare for most coffees from other countries.
At Coyote’s we are please to be able to offer a medium and a dark roast Cuban coffee. It is one of our most sought after coffees, by our customers. We do our best to keep it in stock for those who seek its unique flavour profile.