El Escorial Cafe
Coffee lovers, be prepared—if your ideal Cuba holiday involves sampling the world-renowned local Cuban coffee in one of Havana’s most picturesque locales, then Café El Escorial belongs at the top of your list. This coffee shop itself sits on the bottom floor of a 17th century mansion known as the Casa de los Marqueses de la Real Proclamación. The building changed hands between some of Havana’s wealthiest and most aristocratic families until it finally fell into the ownership of one Pedro Manuel Bances y Miranda in the late 18th century. His family still owned the building when Café El Escorial opened for business in 1913.
The menu at Café El Escorial is comprised of some 60 drinks ranging from traditional coffees served both hot and iced alongside a large list of coffee-based mixed drinks. The most popular include another Cuban favourite—rum, of course—but they also serve “Mexican coffee” with tequila, “Irish coffee” with whisky, cream, and cinnamon, coffee daiquiris, and the list goes on.
All coffee served at Café El Escorial is sourced from the nearby Escambray Mountains, located in the central region of Cuba. Renowned as one of the world’s foremost coffee-growing regions, this guarantees both high-quality beans as well as a freshness that’s nearly impossible to find anyplace else. All coffee is completely prepared in-house, and should you find the flavour as special as many before you have, you may purchase packs of up to one kilogram toasted and packed the same day ready to take home with you. These make greats gifts for friends and family back home!
In addition to its coffee, Café El Escorial also offers a wide variety of breads, pastries, sandwiches, ice cream, soft drinks, and more waiting for you to enjoy.
Three thumbs up for: charming location, pleasant atmosphere and great coffee
Old Havana’s Plaza Vieja is widely recognized as one of the city’s most beautiful spots. After a host of uses now spanning six centuries, the square was lovingly refurbished during the 1990s thanks primarily to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nowadays, the Plaza Vieja is home to cafés, restaurants, art galleries, a microbrewery, a primary school, and more.
The café today retains much of its ambiance from those early days, though it now features a variety of more modern flourishes as well. On a hot afternoon you can take a seat inside, where antique equipment and the architecture of the building itself will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Alternatively, you can always sit on the patio underneath an umbrella or the café’s characteristic blue awnings. Here you will absorb the action of the Plaza Vieja, with artists, street musicians, and Cubans simply going about their day-to-day lives buzzing all around you.
After a busy afternoon of exploring Havana Vieja, this is one of the best spots in town to just sit down and take a load off for a while. Whether you’re a coffee fanatic or a casual fan—don’t miss it!
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