By: Ana María S. González Photos: PL Archives
Just its aroma creates an uncontrollable desire for a hot cup of coffee. To many people, having a cup is a necessity just aﬁer waking up in the moming. For others, the need may be greater after lunch or dinner. In Cuba, there is no visit without a cup of coffee. It is present at business meetings and breaks during most events.
The origin of coffee is lost in time but there are multiple legends on how it was discovered Maybe the following is close to the truth.
Ashepherd called Kaldi noticed his sheep behaving strangely after eating the fruits and leaves of a certain bush. They were all jumpy and full of energy. The shepherd tasted the fruit and felt the same way. Amazed, he took some samples to the abbot at the nearby monastery and explained the strange event. The abbot cooked the seeds but the resulting brew was so bitter that he threw it into the ﬂames.
The coffee started to cook in the ﬁre a.nd produced such a pleasant smell that the abbot tried roasting the seeds, The result was clear, a drink for the world to enjoy was born.
Coffee arrived to the eastern part of Cuba from Santo Domingo in I748. Half a century would pass, when French colonists ﬂeeing the Haitian revolution arrived in Cuba, before commercial development would begin.
Within a period ofless than 100 years, there would be more than 2,000 coffee plantations. There are still some traces of these very early establishments like the ruins of Angerona and La lsabelica, both declared UNESCO Heritage sites.
Traditional methods are Well maintained in mountainous areas of eastern Cuba where Arabica beans are the most widely grown. Cuba has l2 varieties sold in national and international markets under the Turquino, Cristal Mountain, Serrano, Cubita, and Caracolillo brand names.
An integral part of Cuban culture and custom is the steaming little cup of coffee. It is present in all the country's activities, served strong and sweet, for business or for pleasure.