Popular Cuban Drinks
Coffee can probably be considered the most popular Cuban drink. Coffee beans
are also among the three most popular items exported out of the country by foreign
travelers (the others being alcohol and tobacco products). Espresso-style coffee is
the standard. Some tourist resorts offer American-style coffee as well, but this is
rare. On resorts, cappuccinos, cafe con leche and other coffee inspired drinks are
Most Cuban households brew their coffee in old fashioned, aluminum cafeteras .
Many state-run cafeterias and independently-run paladares and chiringos also use
this method. Only large bars and fancy tourist restaurants and resorts have profes-
sional espresso machines.
Fresh roasted coffee beans can be purchased at most supermarkets and small
stores. Cubanita is one of the most popular brands, but there are several others. A
wide selection of roasted coffee is also available at airport stores. There are very
few places for foreigners to find coffee beans at bargain prices in Cuba. Generally,
roasted bean prices are on par with European and American coffee bean rates and
are mostly uniform throughout the island. It is always more cost effective to buy a
cup of coffee rather than to brew your own.
Given the abundance of fresh fruit in Cuba, it is no wonder that fruit juice is hugely
popular. All restaurants and fast food joints will offer a selection of natural juices
( jugos naturales ) and the price will usually be about 2 to 3 pesos (MN) per cup.
Pineapple, guayaba , mango, and orange are the most popular juice choices. For
more exotic flavors, you can sometimes find juice made from tamarind ( tamarindo ),
papaya ( fruta bomba ), mamey or chirimoya .
The juices are usually of very high quality, most being freshly pressed on the
premises where they are sold. Markets also sell fresh juice in larger portions. Typ-
ically a 1 liter bottle of juice can be purchased for about 20 pesos (MN).
In most cases, when you purchase a serving of juice at a street-side restaurant, it
will come served in a glass cup. After you drink it, you must return the cup to the
store counter, where it is promptly washed and reused. You are also free to bring
your own reusable cup or bottle, which the server will gladly fill.
Another extremely popular juice choice is guarapo frio . This is freshly pressed sug-
ar cane juice, served with crushed ice. Guarapo frio is sweet, nutritious, refreshing
and cheap. It is only sold at specialized, state-run guarapera stands which are