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Miami is a cultural melting pot boasting myriad nationalities and its this diversity that gives the city its unique vibe, rich in heritage and culture loved by both locals and tourists alike.
From the Cuban roots in Calle Ocho and Little Havana to the Venezuelan and Colombian influx of flavor in Doral, Miami has become a premier mecca for ethnic foods and a cultural haven in the United States.
If you travel anywhere near downtown Miami, you will notice a massive new billboard which echoes the sentiment that most Miamians and coffee lovers feel. In big bold letters, you can see the words “I LOVE MIAMI” emblazoned on one panel and “I LOVE BUSTELO” on the other directly adjacent to it. As the son of Cuban immigrants, both statements ring true as Café Bustelo has always been a staple in our home for either a midday cafecito or café con leche prepared by my grandmother every morning before school. It was so prevalent in my life that the first gift I ever remember receiving from a girl I had a crush on in first grade was a Cafe Bustelo coloring book since her mother worked at the factory.
The Café Bustelo brand was born in 1928 in New York City’s East Harlem (“El Barrio”) to its founder Don Gregorio Bustelo. Gregorio wanted to bring his specialized roast and styles of brewing to the US and was the first to cater to all Latino communities. In addition to his philanthropic funding of community events, he opened a storefront on 5th Ave called “Bustelo Coffee Roasters” and the rest is coffee history.
Even though its Latino roots and ties to Miami are strong, Bustelo brings more to the table than just delicious cafecito at your corner Cuban cafeteria. Its rich tradition spans many cultures and serves as the foundation for a variety of specialty, ethnic coffee beverages. Mexicans use it to make Café de Olla, the official drink of Mexico, where you combine water, cinnamon and brown sugar with Café Bustelo to achieve a rich and flavorful brew traditionally served in a clay pot; Costa Ricans (“Ticos”) like to drink Bustelo Supreme sans sugar or cream; Ecuadorians love their café con leche, a steaming cup of milk with a dash of café, as opposed to Puerto Ricans who like it expresso-style in “un pocillo”.
In the spirit of all this, here’s my pro tip on how to craft the iconic Cuban style cafecito. The secret is the “espumita”. This is when you take the first drops of the brewed coffee and vigorously whisk it into sugar until you achieve a syrupy consistency. Then slowly pour the remaining brewed coffee over this mixture and enjoy heaven in a cup.
Regardless of you background or heritage, we can all agree that coffee is the lifeblood of both Latino and non-Latino cultures, not to mention a social connector that bring friends and families together. In its 90th anniversary, Café Bustelo continues to play an integral role in this community and embraces the diversity which makes us all say with conviction, “I LOVE MIAMI.”