Blended Coffee: A New Form of Terrorism

Danae Suarez

A verse in a popular song goes, “Oh mamma Ines, all us blacks drink coffee.” But for a long time this should have been changed to, “Oh mamma Ines, all Cubans drink coffee.”

That new verse could be explained by the idea that “any Cuban who doesn’t have Congo [African] blood has Carabalm [African] blood. And that would explain the original verse because it’s rare to find a Cuban who doesn’t feel a certain addiction to this curious stimulant.

Among certain people there’s such a need for this eye-opener that their having to go only one day without drinking it produces headaches, anxiety, irritability, and sleepiness, among other symptoms. That’s why when there is a shortage of coffee at the bodega (the neighborhood store of rationed products), a fundamental worry emerges about how to get some, even if it means buying an overpriced package from someone on the street.

This month was a difficult one in that sense. The Granma newspaper issued a government notice announcing the fact that due to the price of coffee having increased on the international market, the country was obligated to reduce its imports. At the same time, the paper said that an initiative was being taken to blend ground dried-peas into rationed coffee and drop the price of this hybrid from five pesos to four pesos per packet while maintaining the same per capita amount rationed for everyone over seven year old.

Finally, and with the grace of God, we didn’t have to wait too long for access to the now famous four-peso packets of “Coffee with Peas.” What’s curious about all this is that I can testify that on the block where my grandmother lives, four coffeepots exploded in less than a week.

“Specialists” say that pea grounds swell when they get too hot, clogging the screw on espresso makers used in Cuba. Since the boiling water then has nowhere to escape, the pressure builds up until the appliance blows up.

Since Cubans fortunately don’t take anything too seriously, I had to laugh when a friend suggested that perhaps this was an underhanded form of national terrorism.

I don’t believe that’s the idea, though it’s pretty funny. What I wonder is why a country that possesses such fertile soil and is endowed with a capacity to grow any crop, and is a nation that used to produce coffee without a lot of complications, now has to resort to such desperate measures to guarantee people this necessary stimulant.

Danae Suarez

Danae Suárez: I’ve always felt responsible for defending values that are eternal but unfortunately have been forgotten in a world that tends more towards the depersonalization of the human being. So what better place than my country to assume the task that each conscious citizen should assume: To work for a better society. I will never forget the famous phrase of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” I’m therefore committed to ensuring that my drop is not missing.

2 thoughts on “Blended Coffee: A New Form of Terrorism

  • Danae, I heard on a radio broadcast recently–KPCC at 89.3 FM locally in the Los Angeles, CA area–that tobacco and coffee were good examples of both success and failure in the post-1968 Cuban experiment with full state-ownership socialism.

    It said: that tobacco growing had remained in private hands, and had continued to produce the best tobacco in the world in traditional quantities; at the same time, coffee had been nationalized and production had declined to a tiny fraction of its former size.

    The problem with socialism is “who” is leading production in any given sector? When the state owns a sector 100%, leadership seems to deteriorate due to the fundamental change in production leadership incentives.

    This would suggest that Cuba should return coffee lands and production to private ownership (individually or cooperatively, or both). so that production can recover. The state’s necessary “cut” of the profits could then be obtained by either a tax or a co-ownership arrangement.

  • I remember the when the peas were in the coffee before. I never had problems with my cafetera though. IN fact, I would like some of that mixed coffee right now because the Cubita I brought home with me is SOOOOOO high in caffeine I am a basket case after my morning fix and can’t get to sleep before 2AM !!! Maybe I’ll try making my own blend here at home… surely I can find some chicharro here…. Anybody know the ratio I should use?

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