When you run a business in Miami, in addition to making sure you’re complying with local, state, and federal regulations, you also sometimes need to factor in international politics with local sensitivities.
Miami is a great coffee town. The ubiquitous espresso stands are about a five-minute drive from just about anywhere in the city. It is also cheap. The average price for a shot of Cuban espresso is about fifty to seventy-five cents. Amount? Basically a double shot at Starbucks
Some of us never thought that chain coffee stores would be well-received in Miami. Why pay $2.50 when you can pay .75? Granted, at the Cuban places there is no free Wi-Fi or air conditioned fancy places. But do you really need all that for a cup of black liquid gold? Eh, yes, sometimes.
Pasion del Cielo: The Grand Coffee of the Americas, is a great concept and the coffee is really good. These folks brew the best beans from throughout the Western Hemisphere at various locations throughout Miami.
I’ve been visiting Pasion del Cielo for a few years now and have never had the Cuban coffee. It never really occurred to me that someone would think that the beans in the bin would be from Cuba. Until recently, I never saw that word “style” either handwritten on the bin.
Under U.S. law, all commercial imports from Cuba are a big no no. And even if we could import coffee from Cuba, who would want to buy it? Cuba’s coffee crop is, like the government, not good eats. I also figured, if these folks have live in Miami long enough, they would know better than to even try to do such a thing.
I asked an employee about the word “style” and was told that she thought a customer may have complained, that it left customers with the impression that they were drinking coffee that was actually imported from Cuba. That would make for good “PR” for the regime. Just ask the folks at Bacardi.
When it comes to matters involving Cuba, it pays to be careful in South Florida. Even marketing. For example, Mercedes-Benz was forced to issue an apology last year when it used an image of human rights violator Che Guevara during a marketing stunt. Also last year, the European furniture giant IKEA became embroiled in a potential public relations disaster when allegations surfaced that it may have used Cuban political prison labor to manufacture furniture.
I was born and raised in Miami. I recall many Cuba-related business boycotts. Glad to see that these same fervor is alive and well, at least at some level. There are businesses in Miami today that would have been unheard of in my youth. For example, retail stores advertising that they specialized in preparing packages to send to Cuba or travel agencies with a sole focus on Cuba trips were, eh, not a good idea. Times have changed, but only so much.
Its good that the Cuban-American community remains in steadfast opposition to the regime on the island. If not them, who? For people in these neck of the woods, Washington, DC, they tend not think much of these things. In fact, most folks would rather be sipping mojitos in Cuba than a coffee in Miami. Too bad.