Cuban Coffee: From Miami Cafes to Supermarkets Nationwide

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Smucker’s may pride itself as a true-blue American food company, but now it looks like it might be injecting a bit of Latin culture into its offerings after purchasing Cafe Bustelo, a Miami Cuban coffee brand with little national recognition.

The $360 million deal, struck in May, reflects corporate America’s growing interest in Hispanic American culture after the U.S. Census revealed a booming Cuban population across the country. The acquisition could mean more Cuban coffee on more supermarket shelves for customers, but some worry the purchase could harm perfection of the product and the brand.

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Sipped by Cuban exiles for 50 years, Cafe Bustelo first hit Miami when its parent company, Rowland Coffee Roasters, started catering to homesick Cubans after the bay of pigs crisis. Although Cuban coffee is no different than Italian espresso, the passion and sugar that goes into making a ‘cafecito’ is almost cult-like. This has left Smuckers with little choice but to educate itself on the Hispanic market it’s serving and how to keep the brand relevant to that audience, according to Smucker’s spokeswoman Maribeth Badertscher. “We already have a team at the plant and with the marketing offices, and our teams have also spent a great deal of time with consumers in Miami in their homes and watching how they use and enjoy those products,” Badertscher told NPR.

And who knows, perhaps Smucker’s takeover could even spread Cafe Bustelo to an audience beyond its traditional Cuban American demographic.

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