Proprietors Sandra and Miguel are actually Cubans, and have lived in Crystal Palace since 2006.
“Many bars and restaurants in the UK exploit Cuba as a brand, but they fail to deliver something genuine,” they say.
“Casa Cuba is the only place in the UK where you are guaranteed to drink Cuban coffee all the time.”
The modestly sized Cuban coffee crop makes securing coffee from the Caribbean island a challenge.
This coffee shop benefits not from any publicly funded support, but from the pair’s other business, Live Holidays, next door to Casa Cuba. This more profitable operation sells holidays to Cuba.
Shop manager Joel is also Cuban, as well as being a Latin music DJ.
Miguel told us that the coffee shop is “more a pleasure and a passion”.
This is a coffee shop which, as the day progresses, transforms into a Cuban cocktail bar. Gradually, the Cuban soups and homemade cakes and sandwiches are moved aside to make way for Cuban white rum.
“It was in Cuba that rum was refined for the first time, by isolating a proprietary strain of yeast,” Miguel says.
“It was this technique of removing impurities by filtering the rum through charcoal that gave birth to the first clear or ‘white’ rum in the world.
“It was also in Cuba that rum was aged in white oak barrels for the first time. This had the effect of mellowing the drink,” Miguel says.
The shop would like to take responsibility for improving the environment of the old Victorian lavatories just across from the shop, but Croydon Council was first slow to respond and are uncertain as to who actually owns the neglected facilities next to the speedway that Upper Norwood’s one-way road system provides.
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