Camila has never had any of the three. She did a taste test to pick her favorite. Is it the same as yours?
cafe bustelo
Photo credit: Karen Vierbuchen

We did a blind taste test to determine whether Café Bustelo, Café La Llave or Café Pilon would be the coffee that we stocked up on during quarantine.

When Coronavirus landed in the United States, people started hoarding things like toilet paper, flour, and hand sanitizers. Eventually even things like frozen pizzas disappeared, too. I don’t understand that, by the way. Whatever it was though, I don’t really need to tell you all this because you, just like me, were there. But, what I do need to tell you is that while everything was being gobbled up by Dick and Jane America, I was completely stressed out because I only needed one thing to get through the quarantine: coffee. Not just any coffee though, I needed my strong-like-bull Cuban coffee, daily at 2:30 pm and I was worried that I might not be able to sustain my habit if pandemic anxiety got everyone to the store before me.

The question though was… which coffee: Café Bustelo, Café La Llave or Café Pilon?

Camila from Bogota was the official taste tester.

Now, to be fair, I’m a Café Bustelo guy. I love the flavor, the strength ,and the punch it gives you straight out of a cafetera. And, to be completely transparent, Café Bustelo has been a sponsor of ours in the past. We like to drink their coffee, spend time with their people, and do things with their awesome yellow can. But, this video wasn’t sponsored by anybody. I wanted to make it independent. A game. It was completely unbiased and I made sure the decision wasn’t influenced by me.

Enter Camila. Camila, from Bogotá, Colombia.

cafe la llave
Vegan chef Josh Solis pours coffee through a colador de café. Photo credit: Karen Vierbuchen

Camila was the perfect candidate to taste the coffee. Her Colombian background gave her Juan Valdez-level street cred, her fun personality made her camera-ready and best of all… she had never tried any of the three coffees. She’s only been the States for about four months so she was the perfect scapegoat, allowing me to maintain complete deniability. Whichever coffee she deemed the winner would win fair and square.

Camila Ramirez Pabon
Camila gets ready to taste test the three coffees. Photo credit: Ken Deckinger

Related Post: How to Make Chef Louie Estrada’s Ropa Vieja

And, to make sure that I was completely honest and kept Camila in the dark, I called in a few of my friends as witnesses. Zooming into the studio was Zuzy Martin Aly, Marissa Daniela, Chris Vázquez and Cray Novick. If you’ve seen any of our videos you know these people and know that they would completely call me out if I tried anything slippery.

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We turned the cameras on. Poured the coffee into plain white, unlabeled coffee cups for Camila. And we let it rip.

Which coffee did she pick? Which did we wind up stocking up on for quarantine?

Watch the video above. And, pick up your favorite here: Café Bustelo, Café La Llave or Café Pilon here.

Related: El Café in Habana Vieja: Add This Coffee Shop to Your List

(Note from El Equipo about the coffees in this test (cafe bustelo, cafe la llave, cafe pilon): We have worked with coffee brands in the past and will likely do so again in the future. This piece however was not sponsored or influenced by any one brand.)

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Ken Deckinger is the co-founder and CEO of Startup Cuba and the executive producer and host of its namesake docuseries. A native of South Florida, Ken has been an entrepreneur for his entire professional career. Previously he was co-founder and CEO of HurryDate, pioneering the global concept of speed dating to 45 cities throughout the US, UK and Canada. HurryDate eventually evolved into online dating and was acquired by Spark Networks, the parent company of and Ken is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Florida, where he was honored with the University’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Under 40 award and sits on the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He actively advises entrepreneurs and is a two-time protagonist of a Harvard Business School case study. Ken’s filmmaking and journalistic journey is inspired by a love of travel and authentic connections with other cultures. He believes that the more we know about each other, through stories, the closer we can become — thus the mission of Startup Cuba: to amplify the voices of the people sharing stories in the Latinx space. After living in New York City for 15 years, he encouraged his wife to move their family to Miami to get back to his South Florida roots. Needless to say, it was a short discussion and he and his family now call Boston, where his wife grew up, their home.

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