Cuban Coffee Never Tastes the Same in America

12 Apr

Cuban coffee never tastes the same in America.

Is it the quality of the water? How my cafetera hasn’t been being seasoned since the fall of the Soviet Union? Am I lacking the attitude as I prepare it, the ‘I may not have much, but at least I have coffee?’

Is it because it’s not percolating over an overpriced Chinese stove or perhaps a burner that hasn’t been replaced since the 70s? Is it because I didn’t mop my kitchen floor with a rag on a stick, because all I have to do to get eggs is get in my 2007 Prius and drive to the nearest grocery store?

Is it becasue my tongue still can’t roll those double rr’s, even though I can voy pa’ ‘lante y que pinga asere with the rest of them? Is it because the air isn’t thick with the exhaust fumes of six decades of failing transmissions, occasionally moved by a salty breeze from our own shores?

Is it because the spoon I use to stir in the sugar was so easy to acquire, a Target trip where I stocked my entire kitchen in an hour instead of cobbling together the necessities over years of searching and gifts brought to the island?

Who knows why Cuban coffee tastes different here, but the impetus to return to that singular flavor sits tauntingly on the back of my palate, part craving, part memory.

My friend and incredible artist Reynier Llanes gets the power of this stuff…check out his “Equilibrium” Cuban Espresso Coffee paintings here


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