How to start your day? With a cup of coffee, of course. For most of us the hot drink is the only way to really get going in the morning, the only way to get over that afternoon dip and the only way to get in a good chat with the colleagues. Worldwide it’s undoubtedly one of the most popular drinks, amongst young and old. Coffee shops are some of the most obvious places to spot some hipsters in the wild and one thing Generation Z does best is finding good coffee in a new destination.
Yet what happens when there’s no coffee left? It seems like a nightmare question for those who can’t get their feet out of bed without a cup in the hand, yet some regions in the world are actually facing what’s called a coffee shortage. Cuba, in particular. Because even though the country used to be one of the most important coffee producers in the world – the plant having been introduced in 1748 – these last decades, the once prestigious coffee exporter has seen a decay. After reaching an absolute high in produce in 1961 with more than 60.000 tons, that number is now down to 10.000 tons.
Shortage in coffee
No biggie, right? Well, it is if you consume 24.000 tons of coffee a year. Because that’s how much Cubans like their coffee. The spectacular fall in produce can be linked to a number of factors, such as plagues, cyclones and climate change. But what to do if you’ve got 14.000 tons of coffee to be found and little means? Well, you make a mix. The Cuban government, which greatly oversees the coffee distribution, has decided to make up for the lack of coffee by making a mixture of half coffee, half roasted peas. And that doesn’t go down very well.
Ufff you were probably given coffee laced with chícharo (split peas). Communist cuba has been adding split peas to ground coffee as a filler for years because they dont produce enough coffee. Funny, albeit shameful given that Cuba EXPORTED coffee during its Pre-Castro glory days.— Christian 🇺🇲 (@ChristianCamara) April 6, 2020
At the moment, every Cuban has the right to 115 grams of coffee a month. Knowing that half of that coffee actually exists of peas, that’s not what you’d call a lot. Even though “real” coffee is still available, most Cubans can’t afford to buy some – one kilogram of the stuff costing 15 dollars, the average income being 32 dollars a month.
According to Elexis Legrá, director of coffee at the Agroforestry Group, there are now plans for Cuba to switch from Arabica coffee to the Robusta kind in order to counterbalance the shortages. Robusta often delivers bigger beans and therefore bigger harvests. Experiments so far are going well and the Cuban government hopes to be back at a produce of 30.000 tons by 2030.