The Key to Coffee? Cafe La Llave!


I am not sure what you are drinking as you read this. If you are looking up coffee brands to try or are looking to expand the tastes that you’ve become accustomed to look no further than Gaviña’s Cafe La Llave. There is nothing better. If you are like me you are either just finishing an espresso, about to pour the next one or brewing the next pot.

If you are Cuban and live in either Los Angeles or Miami you already know what I am talking about. If you are not Cuban but are familiar with Gaviña brand coffee then you are sure to have heard mention of Cafe La Llave.

I was raised on La Llave. Literally. My mother would make me “cafe con leche” en pomo (that’s a latte in a baby bottle). I have since built a sort of immunity to the caffeine I think but that is a different topic all together.

I have tried Bustelo and Pilon and a few other “Cuban” brands of cafe but nothing compares to the rich and bold flavor of La Llave. If you like a strong espresso (Italian style or Cuban style) then this is a staple you should add to your shopping list. If you are fortunate to live in the Miami or Los Angeles area it is pretty easy to find in your local grocery store or corner “latino” market. Now, do not get me wrong. I do like the Italian brands too, illy, Segafredo, Lavazza, and La Brasiliera just to name a few; but nothing compares to La Llave. When I go to Italy I bring back cafe. When in San Francisco I stop at the Segafredo bar on Powell Street for the ABSOLUTE best espresso south of Seattle and east/west of Italy. I only mention Seattle to say that I enjoyed the little hole in the wall boutique “french-style” coffee houses in Starbucks drenched Seattle.

Before I get back to La Llave I have to say that the Italian brands I mentioned are awesome, but are better served at a bar. I don’t know why. It just is. illy cafe at the SOMA is good. The Lavazza cafe at a few of the local around town are decent. Segafredo in SF is still the best Italian coffee and coffee house period. But nothing compares to pulling back the plastic lid on the green can…flicking the little pull tab and hearing the “swish” as you open the can. The aroma hits you like Mike Tyson in his prime. Bam! I almost just want to eat it out of the can!

La Llave is also available in the shrink wrapped “bricks”; not as much fun to open but it is an environmentally safe way to go.

You will need a cafetera or mocha (moka) machine. Bialeti used to make an electric one (i have one at the office). Bialetti makes a pretty nice stove top (aluminum and stainless steel). I have experimented with the Stainless Steel (inox 18/10) Italian stove top espresso makers and the run of the mill aluminum ones you can pick up at Ikea for less than $15 (Ross or Marshall’s sometimes have these items in their housewares section). The aluminum variety are just “ok”. They are very high maintenance and you might consider tossing it if you leave a little water in the basin and then leave on vacation…you will come back to barnacles! Not fun to clean. Stainless steel is easier, but a bit costlier. If you think you’ll probably go through at least 3 of the aluminum stove top it might be worth the splurge on the stainless steel especially if you are going to use it daily (or more often as I do).

The Aluminum Style
The Aluminum Style
The Stainless Steel Variety
The Stainless Steel Variety

Back to the “Love of La Llave“!

I usually go through 2 to 3 cans/bricks a week. Seriously. It is that good. La Llave has replaced my visits to Starbucks completely. Plus I save money. A shot of espresso at Starbucks is 1.85USD. La Llave? 20 cents. Yawp. But, that is not why I love La Llave.

I love Cafe La Llave because it is true coffee. Period. It is the best. If you don’t believe me… try it !

You have the last espresso…

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7 thoughts on “The Key to Coffee? Cafe La Llave!

  1. Nice breakdown on my favorite espresso. Gavina oughta send you some free shit!!! haha I have the stainless steel type and will never go back to the other crap.

  2. We swear by Cafe La Llave around here! I hope other people find out how great it has always been! Is it true that Gavina provides McDonald’s with their coffee? Someone mentioned that to me once, but McDonald’s coffee is SUPERIOR to Starbucks so I am inclined to believe it! Great post!

  3. I saw Cafe La Llave at wal-mart of all places, I went past the big rack of bins, past the little plastic packages of starbucks and seattles best, past the cans of folgers and there right before I hit the tea were some green cans with spanish writing. I looked it over and saw the word Cuba, I thought “hey someone must have lifted the cuban trade embargo!” honestly I don’t know if that’s true or not, I’m about to find out, but I found your blog and I’ve gotta say this is the best espresso I’ve ever had. It’s perfect, not too mild, not too harsh, and it’s cheaper than anything else I’ve ever bought. I’ll be buying a lot of this stuff!

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