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Cuba Running So Low On Coffee Castro Orders Chickpeas Mixed Into Grounds

Cuba was once among the world's great coffee exporters. Nowadays it's running so short on beans and importing so much joe to feed the nation's cafecito habit that Raul Castro has ordered state roasters to mix coffee beans with chickpeas to save cash.

Mmmm, the bitter, chickpea-infused taste of communist production outputs!

The coffee-stretching tactic isn't exactly new to Cuban caffeine addicts. State produced coffee was mixed with roasted chickpeas for years until 2005, when the government switched to the pure stuff.

But with coffee prices rising 69 percent in the last year, the Cuban government spent more than $50 million importing coffee, Raul Castro recently said.

"If we want to keep on drinking pure, un-rationed coffee, the only solution is to produce it in Cuba, where it has been proven that all the required conditions for its cultivation exist," Castro said, according to the BBC.

The chick-pea infused coffee sounds less than gourmet. Longtime coffee-drinkers tell the AP that the cost-saving measure leads to some seriously bitter drinks.

"It's much, much more bitter than pure coffee, which is smoother," Froilan Valido, an unemployed gas bill collector, tells AP. "But many people here are accustomed to it. The habit makes the monk."

We'll stick with our neighborhood cafecito counter.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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