By Warhol P.
HAVANA TIMES, 19 nov. — I’m one of the many Cubans who when getting out of bed in the morning, the first thing I look for is a cup of coffee. However, for months, the coffee that’s bought with our ration cards hasn’t tasted like coffee. When it’s brewed, it has a bitter taste that reminds you of grapefruit peelings.
One has to keep in mind that not all of us have relatives abroad who can send us cans of “La Llave” gourmet coffee.
Here, each person gets a single package of only about 4 ounces (115 grams) a month, though this lasts only a few days. Therefore, it’s necessary to turn to the black market, which is when things get even worse, because a package that yields only three espresso pots costs fifteen pesos (about an average day’s pay).
Some unscrupulous people — to make a little easy money — fill the packages of brand-name coffee (who knows how they get them) with some practically non-consumable substance that they sell to the public, passing it off as the real thing.
People say that the procedure used is to recycle used coffee grinds, drying them out in the sun and then mixing the substance with chicarro (ground peas). When the mixture is brewed, it has a bitter taste and can seriously affect one’s stomach.
But that’s not all. In my case, since I’ve never had luck with the coffee I’ve bought on the street, I decided to use the money I had saved and treat myself to a package of coffee from a shop that sells in CUCs.
It turned out that despite my sacrifice, neither was that coffee like what I had tasted a while ago.
It turns out that the hard currency stores, though they have inflated prices, are just another source that can’t be trusted – not the stores, not their products nor some of their workers.
The employees involved make money by selling to a generally poor public a coffee that doesn’t smell or taste like coffee.