El Cafe Havana is a Bohemian Havana vibe meets hipster chill zone and it's this author's favorite cafe, just about anywhere.
havana coffee shop el cafe Nelson Rodríguez Tamayo
Photo: Karen Vierbuchen

El Café isn’t so much the Havana coffee shop newcomer on the block anymore (that block being Amargura entre Aquacate y Villegas en La Habana Vieja). They’ve been around for a few years now and have even had to expand due to popularity. Nonetheless, El Café is still my favorite coffee shop pretty much anywhere in the world — and I’ve been some places.

The brainchild of Nelson Rodríguez Tamayo (an awesome human), El Cafe is a Havana coffee shop opened in April 2016 after he had lived in London for a while. I first met Nelson when we were filming for Startup Cuba. He’s featured in Episode Three and conveniently, El Café is across the street from our go-to casa particular.

“El Café is still my favorite café, pretty much anywhere in the world…” 

When Nelson returned to Havana from London, he realized there really weren’t any spots for breakfast (true) and so, El Café was born. The place is exactly what it’s name implies: a café. In fact, while Nelson was building out El Cafe , he used to tell his wife as he walked out the door, “Voy a ir al café.” When it came time to open and he didn’t yet have a name, “El Café” just stuck.

Startup Cuba’s Ken Deckinger talks with Nelson Rodríguez Tamayo, the founder of El Cafe in Habana Vieja.

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With bread made from scratch, fresh-ground coffee beans, smoothies and vegetarian options, the food alone is worth the visit. The warm and welcoming staff, bohemian vibe and gorgeous open air Havana space make you want to stay.

When it came time to open and he didn’t yet have a name, ‘El Café’ just stuck.

Grab some pancakes, don’t miss the pork sandwich, and give Nelson a beso for us.

havana coffee shop el cafe Nelson Rodríguez Tamayo
el cafe
Photo: Karen Vierbuchen

Related Post: Nazdarovie: Havana’s Soviet-Themed Restaurant

el cafe havana
El Café La Habana Vieja, Cuba. Photo: Karen Vierbuchen

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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 ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com. 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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