Cuba's Secret Coffee Ingredient

April 11, 2011

It’s not really a secret. It has to be listed on the label, and the President just announced that Cuba will be supplementing the domestic coffee with this ingredient because of a dwindling coffee crop. AP reporter Andrea Rodriguez writes that the coffee crop is falling in production because there is no benefit to growing coffee. Farmers think they’re better off moving to cities where life is easier. At the same time, the Cubans love coffee and it’s a part of their hospitality. Visitors are always offered a cup and Cubans don’t like to start the day without it. This causes high demand – at the tune of 18,000 tons – while only 6000 tons is available so far this year. To satisfy this greater demand, the state spends millions to import coffee. So now the government is planning to stimulate the farming sector, and in the meantime, add roasted peas to the coffee. This was done until 2005 and some Cubans have missed their unique blend. According to blogger Yoani Sanchez, families have had to resort to this to stretch the amount of rationed coffee so they’ve had enough for their needs. The process is similar to that of roasting beans. Peas are roasted until black and ground and added to the coffee grounds. The result, though different from coffee, has been enjoyed anyway, and some found other additions to throw in the pot with the beans and peas, such as wheat berries and various toasted herbs. Fifty years ago Cuba was a foremost producer and exporter of coffee. They’re still exporting some, so it’s unclear if the actual production for export is being counted in the 6000 ton figure. The exported coffee is the real thing, not a pea blend, of course. Japan is one of the biggest importers of Cuban coffee, as it’s a favorite with the Japanese. Hopefully the condition s for farmers in Cuba will be improved so coffee production can meet the domestic and foreign demands. Cuba has the right growing conditions and great soil for producing excellent coffee. Try some for yourself, from ROASTe’s varied selection. And you won’t have to put blackened peas in it, we promise!



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