First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountains and sprawled out over 81,000 hectares valley lies the remains of Southeast Cuba's first coffee plantations. Run by French and Haitian owners in the 19th and early 20th century, the site allows visitors to see how Cuba's now famous coffee was processed, while learning more about the slave trade that made mass production possible.

Cuba is famous for its coffee and just a short taxi journey from Santiago is the site of one of its first plantations.

The Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba
offer an intriguing insight into Cuba’s original coffee growing plantations and production methods, while also proving a stark reminder of the island’s once substantial slave trade.

Coffee production in the Caribbean region began on the island of Hispaniola (modern day Haiti) in the French colony of Saint-Domingue. However, after a slave uprising, the island’s French settlers fled and set their sights on Cuba. In the 19th century, they began to establish coffee plantations in the Southeast area of the country.

However, by the early 20th century, more advanced forms of coffee production started to be used around the island, which resulted in the closure of the plantations. Today, visitors can enjoy a fascinating glimpse into early production methods. It’s still possible to see the impressive network of aqueducts that were employed by the plantation’s owners, along with the series of viaducts, cisterns and mills that were used in the labour intensive process of grinding coffee berries.

In total, the property takes up an area of 81,475 hectares and there are 171 coffee plantations – also known as cafetales, which have been abandoned since the early 20th century. Owned by French and Haitian settlers, this archaeological landscape includes a former property - La Isabelica farm estate, which is one of the plantation’s main attractions. The two-storey estate mansion was converted into a museum in the mid-1970s and allows visitors the chance to envisage how life might have been for its former occupant – French settler Victor Constantin. His portrait now hangs in the mansion’s main room.

The tools and equipment used in the production process by the plantation’s slaves are scattered throughout the ground floor. A warehouse and a series of carpentry stores contain various working tools while the shackles of the slaves can also be seen – a reminder of the hardships once endured by those who were forced to toil for their wealthy masters.

For those who wish to learn more about an important aspect of Cuba’s historical and cultural past, The First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba offers a fascinating insight.

Get Inspiration

All about where to go and what you can do
Basilica De San Francisco De Asis

Basilica de San Francisco De Asis

Visitors to the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis in Old Havana, Cuba will be delighted by the history, artwork, and acoustics of the Basilica de San Francisco de Asis, which is home to the Museo de Arte Religioso and Camerata Romeu (an exclusive female orchestra). Catch one of the amazing musical performances or tour the convent to see memorials of notable people of the past and truly appreciate the grand columns and stone flooring in this Catholic Franciscan place of worship.

Cafetal La Isabelica

Cafetal La Isabelica

At the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and at the end of a short hike from Gran Piedra (Santiago de Cuba), Cafetal La Isabelica is an open air museum dedicated to Cuba's important coffee production. Learn how French farmers fleeting Haiti turned Cuba's south-eastern provinces into the main coffee growing region of the island.

Castillo De La Real Fuerza

Castillo de la Real Fuerza

The mystery hidden within its walls, secrets left untold until modern times, and its title as one of the oldest star forts in the Americas make Castillo de la Real Fuerza a must-see stop on your tour of Havana, Cuba. You'll love making your way through the paths to the centre of the fortress, which was originally built for keeping watch for invaders. At more than 400 years old, you'll have plenty to talk about when you return home after visiting this astonishing site and its impressive layout.

More attractions

Explore cuba your way

Tailor made cuba holidays

For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

Create the perfect trip with the help of our specialists

Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

Call 0207 644 1600
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us