We now proudly carry Cafe Bustelo coffee, a true Cuban roast that will take you to coffee shops of Havana without the hassle of air travel or a Castro dictatorship. The coffee originally came from the streets of Cuba, and the creators took their roasting craft with them as they left Cuba and made their way to New York.
Gregorio Bustelo was originally from Galicia, Spain, but during a trip to Cuba, he fell in love with the unique coffee on the island to the point that he got a job at a local coffee roaster. After living in Cuba for just a few months, he met and married a Cuban woman who loved coffee as much as he did.
Not long after they married, they moved to Puerto Rico, and Gregario took what he learned from the Cuban coffee industry to the Puerto Rican industry. Around this time, the US passed the Jones-Shafroth Act, which granted people of Puerto Rico US citizenship. The Bustelos and numerous other Puerto Ricans promptly left the island to start a new life in New York.
The Bustelos moved to East Harlem (El Barrio Latino) and bought their own coffee roasting company. Since they lived close to a theater, they scheduled their roasting times to coincide with when the movies would let out. The aroma from the roasting would entice theater-goers to stop by the business and buy coffee. During the day, Gregario would peddle his roast to neighborhood restaurants. By 1931, they Bustelos officially had their Bustelo Coffee Roasters business, and the Bustelo brand sold outside of El Barrio Latino.
In 2000, Rowland Coffee Roasters of Miami bought the Cafe Bustelo brand. The Rowland company, like the Bustelo brand, was the third-generation of Cuban coffee roasters. JP Souto, the grandson of the Rowland founder, has been very aggressive about raising awareness of Cafe Bustelo, and now the coffee can be found outside of local grocery stores in New York and Miami.
Cafe Bustelo passed hands once again in May 2011, from Rowland to JM Smucker, Smucker’s happens to be the same company that distributes Folgers, so they know a thing or two about how to market and sell a new coffee. As such, coffee lovers everywhere will have even more opportunities to sample the Cuban roast.