Culture

Coffee Is Steeped In Tradition Across Latin America, Here Is How Each Country Brews The Perfect Cup

OK, so we’re in like Week 12 of lockdown and some of us may have taken up new hobbies and interests to help pass the time. For me, that’s been getting to know a good cup of home-brewed coffee. Plus, the draw of a warm, delicious cup of coffee can definitely help you get your day started with that often much-needed shot of caffeine.

Many coffee experts agree, that now is the time to familiarize yourself with all the traditional coffee methods from around Latin America and figure out which one you like best.

Latin America is one of the biggest producers of coffee beans, but surprisingly, coffee isn’t a big part of life here, with the exception of Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina. But those who do enjoy their coffee, have a wide array of traditions when it comes to preparing that perfect cup.

Like the millions of people and cultures of the world, coffee too has its own variations and traditions surrounding it. Here is a glimpse of how it is prepared and consumed in different ways all over the planet.

Argentina

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Maté may be the official national beverage, but coffee drinking is a refined, lingering art in Argentina’s cafes.

The country’s capital, Buenos Aires, has always been Latin America’s coffee capital and long before any neighboring nation even knew of the existence of a ‘latte’, Porteños were sipping macchiatos (called lagrimas) and café con leche like it was nobody’s business. The city has always offered the best coffee in the entire continent – mostly due to its influx of Italian immigrants who brought with them the traditional techniques of coffee brewing.

Brazil

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Unlike much of South America, coffee is very popular in Brazil, with many Brazilians preferring a cafezinho – a strong and very sweet coffee. And it kinda makes sense considering Brazil is the world’s largest producer of the stuff.

Coffee is consumed all through the day, in dainty little cups, with or without meals. Coffee added to a glass of milk is often served for breakfast to kids as young as 10 years old. Though American-style coffee culture and drinks are gaining popularity, walking while eating or drinking is a strict no-no in Brazil

Colombia

Colombia, known for its great, versatile coffee beans, likes its coffee black with lots of sugar, in small cups. It’s known as tinto and it will leave you awake for days…

Colombia’s coffee culture only recently got off the ground. Prior to 2003, the country’s best beans were only exported and Colombians only had access to the leftover beans. But this has changed and coffee culture is a huge part of Colombian identity.

Cuba

Cuba may be best known for the cafecito – or Cafe Cubano. This very strong drink is a type of espresso coffee that first developed in Cuba after Italians arrived in the country.

The Cafecito beverage is made by sweetening a shot with Demerara sugar, during the coffee brewing process. There are variations on the method including a variety of recipes. The Demerara sugar is traditionally added into the glass into which the espresso will drip so the sugar and espresso mix during brewing which is said to create a unique and smooth quality.

Guatemala

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Guatemalans aren’t huge consumers of coffee. And those who do drink coffee tend to drink it as much of the world does – as a latte or shot of espresso.

However, Guatemala is revered for its superior quality and complexity of flavors. It’s a step above the rest, because many coffee fincas (plantations) still harvest beans in the most traditional of ways. The nation’s highlands are where you’ll want to head and – luckily for you – where you can experience the country’s long-held passion for coffee and discover some of the most magnificent landscapes in the entire continent. The most popular region for coffee lovers to visit is Lake Atitlan, a spectacular area framed by three volcanoes.

Mexico

In Mexico, coffee is often brewed with cinnamon and sugar. The cinnamon and sugar aren’t merely added to the coffee after brewing, but they’re incorporated right into the brewing technique. The result is a coffee that’s at the same time sweet and spicy. 

Cafe de Olla is the national coffee drink and it varies from state to state but it’s definitely a must to try if visiting the county. But it’s also easy to make at home!

Venezuela

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At one point, Venezuela rivaled Colombia in terms of its coffee production. However, those days are long gone and now the country produces less than 1% of the world’s coffee (since 2001). Although some Venezuelan coffee is exported, the vast majority is consumed by the Venezuelans themselves. 

Venezuela’s most renowned coffees are known as Maracaibos. They are named after the port through which they are shipped, close to Colombia. The coffee grown in the eastern mountains is called Caracas, named after the country’s capital. 

Starbucks Changed Its Stance On Letting Baristas Wear BLM Apparel— These Black Coffee Shops Will Do You One Better

Culture

Starbucks Changed Its Stance On Letting Baristas Wear BLM Apparel— These Black Coffee Shops Will Do You One Better

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After receiving backlash from fans, Starbucks has had a change of heart on its position prohibiting employees from wearing apparel, such as T-shirts or pins, that support the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In a press release posted to employees, earlier this week the coffee giant revealed that it would not allow baristas to promote the moment. This is despite the fact that it has publicly supported “Black Lives Matter” on its social media channels.

In a new statement released on Friday, Starbucks said they felt it was “critical to support the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement as its founders intended and will continue to work closely with community leaders, civil rights leaders, organizations, and our partners to understand the role that Starbucks can play, and to show up in a positive way for our communities.”

For many, us here at mitú included, Starbuck’s decision to allow its employees to promote the BLM movement by wearing paraphernalia associated with it is just a little too late. And certainly not enough.

If you’re looking to promote the BLM movement, we encourage you to do so by buying Black. The next time you crave some coffee forget Starbucks! Shoppe Black is a website that curates Black-owned places to buy from and they recently shared Black coffee shops to buy from.

Check some of them out below.

South LA Cafe 

(Los Angeles, CA) Get your coffee, tea, and healthy and affordable food options all here in this South LA spot.

Cuples Tea House

(Baltimore, MD) This family-owned business also produces tea that offers loose leaf teas, tea accessories, and tons of culture.

Kaffeine Coffee Internet & Office Cafe

(Houston, TX) Kaffeine Coffee is supposed to be a funky cafe that provides coffee, sandwiches, and baked goods.

Not So Urban Coffee & Roastery 

(Oxford, GA) According to Shop Black, Not So Urban is a small batch micro roaster specializing serving coffee sourced from Africa, South/Central America, and Asia.

Golden Thyme Coffee & Cafe 

(St Paul, MN) This coffee shop provides a setting with jazz music cakes and treats.

More Than Java Cafe’ 

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(Laurel, MD) According to reviews, More Than Java is a vibrant spot featuring classic cafe dishes and ice cream.

Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse

(Philadelphia, PA) It’s not just a coffee store! Amalgam is also a comic book store that offers offers everything from comics, toys, games, and figurines. As well as baked goods!

As People Lose Their Jobs, They’re Not Sending Money To Their Families Back Home And It’s Having A Major Impact On Local Communities

Things That Matter

As People Lose Their Jobs, They’re Not Sending Money To Their Families Back Home And It’s Having A Major Impact On Local Communities

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As the coronavirus continues its march around the world, economies from Brazil and Mexico to the United States and Colombia have been hit hard. The measures taken by governments to save lives have stalled economies, and are in the process of delivering a global recession. Economic contagion is now spreading as fast as the disease itself.

You don’t have to look any further than the unemployment numbers recorded each week in the United States. They’re at staggering, record-breaking levels. This huge impact on the U.S. economy, and its workers, is having an outsized impact on economies across Latin America as migrants aren’t able to send remittances back home to their families.

As the economic repercussions of the pandemic continue to grow, global remittances from migrants are being hit hard.

The pandemic is hitting jobs and wages in a variety of sectors of the global economy – including economies (like the U.S.) that depend on migrants. A global economic turndown will mean a slowdown in the amount of money these workers send back home to their families and will be crucial in spreading the economic contagion from richer countries to poorer ones.

For 2020, the International Monetary Fund is now predicting that the global economy will shrink by 3% – that’s a difference of trillions of dollars – and it will have trickle down effects on the world’s most vulnerable people.

Undocumented communities are especially vulnerable during economic downturns.

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Many of those who send remittances often work in the service industry and have been let go or furloughed from their jobs in hotels, restaurants or cleaning companies, without pay. Meanwhile, those who are undocumented cannot apply for unemployment, even though they likely contributed to state unemployment funds and paid taxes.

Even the recent federal stimulus bill – a $2 trillion dollar bill meant to dampen the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic – specifically left out undocumented migrants. It prevents even tax-paying migrants from receiving any federal aid. However, California has partnered with non-profits to become the first state to offer $500 in assistance to undocumented residents.

Remittances are crucial to the economies of poorer countries and help support millions of families.

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Remittances shelter a large number of poor and vulnerable households, underpinning the survival strategies of over 1 billion people. In 2019, an estimated 200 million people in the global migrant workforce sent home US$715 billion. Of this, it’s estimated US$551 billion supported up to 800 million households living in low- and middle-income countries.

And these families aren’t spending this money on cars and new computers. They’re spending it on everyday subsistence needs including food, medicines, and education. The World Bank projects that within five years, remittances will outstrip overseas aid and foreign direct investment combined, reflecting the extent to which global financial flows have been reshaped by migration.

In fact, global remittances hit record highs in 2018.

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According to the World Bank, global remittances reached a record high in 2018, the last year for which figures are available. The flow of money to Latin America and the Caribbean grew by 10 percent to $88 billion in 2018, mostly due to the strong U.S. economy, where most of the money originates.

In many countries, remittances account for a significant portion of their gross domestic product. In Nicaragua and Guatemala they account for around 12 percent, and in El Salvador and Honduras, around 20 percent.

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, asked Mexicans in the United States not to stop supporting their relatives back home. He said February set a record in remittances to Mexico.

“Tell your countrymen to not stop sending help to their families in Mexico, who are also going through a difficult situation,” he said at a recent news conference.

Many migrants to the U.S. feel a strong responsibility to send back as much as they can to help their families back home.

Credit: @FamiliesBelongTogether / Twitter

Many immigrants to the U.S. are worried about not being able to send money to their parents, children, or abuelos back home. Many relatives depend on those who have emigrated to the U.S. to pay for electricity, food, medicine, and doctor’s visits. But with many losing their own jobs – money is just too tight for many.

In an interview with NBC News, Lesbia Granados – from Honduras – said what many can relate to, “I am everything to my parents, and it’s my responsibility to take care of them, after they did so much for me.”