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Coffee in Cuba.

Coffee in Cuba

It is more frequently the case that less affluent countries have a hard time persuading their more affluent friends firstly to buy their wares, and then- and this is the tricky part- to pay more for them. Cuba seems to be oddly out of step with this. Take Cuban cigars for example. These enjoy a unique place in the hearts of the world's richest tobacco consumers. The product is exclusive and expensive. A very similar style of leaf is to be found in several other countries of Central and South America. Yet aficionados only recognize and are willing to pay the price for the familiar labels of Romeo y Juliets, Partagas; and H. Upman, to name a few. Tobacco is not the only consumer product to enjoy such an exclusive reputation since for almost two centuries Cuba has been a producer of high class coffee. The first-ever seeds to enter Cuba were brought there at the beginning of the 19th Century by a Spaniard, Jose Gelbert, the Colonial Government's Chief Accountant. After the revolution in Haiti many French colonials emigrated to Cuba and this hastened the development of the coffee industry considerably. By 1838, annual production had grown to 29,000 tons and soon Cuba became one of the major exporters of coffee on the world. By far the largest markets were Europe and the U.S.

Currently, production is at the 29-30,000 ton per annum level, and while demand is high, especially from areas such as Japan, one of Cuba's largest clients, production is only being increased slowly, in this way ensuring the elevation of quality. As a result, high prices are maintained, so much so that they have become one of the orgins who have achieved the best average prices worldwide for their coffee exports. Notwithstanding, good prices are dependant on quality and this is guaranteed by the excellent climatic conditions and ideal soil composition found on the island. When the French immigrants arrived, they settled in the "Sierra Maestra" in the east and it is from that region that the renowned quality "Turquino" originates. Other romantic names such as "Sierra del Posario y Los Organos'J, "Sagua-Baacoa" and "Cordillera ael Escambray" are similarly popular growing areas, the latter region being where the most beautiful coffee plantations are located, a coffee bean which is unequalled in size and quality Some of the more important aspects of agricultural technology applied to Cuban coffee are the exclusive use of the Arabica a species; the height at which plantations are located and the choice of trees under whose shadows the plantations are developed. These principally the leguminous Ingas, Eurythrinas and Leucaenas.

For further information on Cuban coffee, contact: Cubaexport, Havana, Cuba. Tel: (7)708825, Tx: 511178; Fax: (7)705933.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Author:Cockle, Peter
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Previous Article:1991 the year of retrenchment.
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