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Guarapo (sugar cane juice)

Really popular in Mexico and Little Havana Florida but I don’t recall seeing guarapo raw (unpasteurized) sugar cane juice sold by street vendors in Cuba, maybe I went down the wrong streets. :slight_smile: Healthier and better tasting than it sounds, almost as good as cold coconut water.

Vendors have a hand crank gear squeezer machine, always want to see that the canes have been well washed before they are put through the machine though. If anyone has seen these around what does a glass of the good stuff cost ?

I love this stuff! Discovered it in Jamaica at the Appleton Rum factory where a mule turns the crank on a large industrial unit but drank it from the hand cranked machine which was clean and delicious. Curious to hear what others have to say and I’ll be looking for it in Cuba.

Ooh, I did the sugarcane tour/excursion and a big glass (or more) of the stuff was available at the end. SO. GOOD.

That tour was really great. $45, with two bottles of rum and lots of food for thought along the way. It was very worthwhile, IMHO.

My wife and I tried this when we were in Havana. Loved it! It surprised us. We both were expecting it to be super sweet. I was actually thinking of trying it with some maple sap in place of the cane juice. :smiley: :sunglasses:

[quote=@flygt5150]Really popular in Mexico and Little Havana Florida but I don’t recall seeing guarapo raw (unpasteurized) sugar cane juice sold by street vendors in Cuba, maybe I went down the wrong streets. :slight_smile: Healthier and better tasting than it sounds, almost as good as cold coconut water.

Vendors have a hand crank gear squeezer machine, always want to see that the canes have been well washed before they are put through the machine though. If anyone has seen these around what does a glass of the good stuff cost ?[/quote]

Actually you are right I do not see many of them selling sugar cane juice in Cuba but I do see it sometimes as last year in Santiago De Cuba I bought on the street nice cup of sugar cane juice and it was refreshing as streets were hot during summer time. I would buy some “mani” roasted peanuts and drink some sugar cane juice with it :slight_smile:

I don’t mean to plug my new Real Havana book, but…this is the exact reason I wrote it. Not for the guarapo frio, but to try to show people that there is a lot more to Cuba and Havana which can be seen if you go a bit off the tourist path.

There are thousands of guarapo frio stands in Cuba. Even just in Havana there are probably several hundred. You just have to get out there and explore. And most guide don’t mention where they are, but I will tell you. Ok, so here is a short list. I will add the google coordinates too, so you can search it for yourself. And next time you go to Havana, YOU HAVE TO TRY THE GUARAPO!

In my opinion, it is much better and sweeter than the one in Mexico. But you just have to watch out because sometimes they don’t put enough ice in it.

There are two main ways it is made in Cuba:

The first one is when it is squeezed by the machine and then the juice drips through a pile of ice as it goes into the collecting container. They then just pour this sugar cane juice into the cups and serve.

The second way is when the juice is squeezed out of the cane and then collected in the container (no ice). Then, your cup is filled with ice and the juice is poured in. This way is better in my opinion since you get a cup full of icy juice. But always remember to swirl it around for about 30 seconds before drinking it. This is how the pro’s do it. The ice quickly melts and turns your whole drink into an icy cold smoothie. Even in a sweltering Havana day, you will see your cold breath as you sip from the cup.

Ok, so here is a short list of location in Havana:

  1. Simon Bolivar, right beside the Capitolio (23.132634, -82.359583). Good place. Often closed on Mondays. Beware, they are located in front of the busiest bus stop in the city, so they charge 2 pesos per cup instead of the usual 1 peso (Moneda Nacional)

  2. Arsenal Street, in front of the train station (23.129344, -82.357086). Probably the best Guarapo place in Havana. Always icy cold. Usually there is a good lineup because of the people waiting for trains/ buses.

  3. Neptuno Street. (23.137729, -82.365243). There are actually a couple of places to get Guarapo on Neptuno. These places are all good.

  4. Intersection of Carlos Tercero and Infanta (23.130519, -82.376855). This is one of the most popular places in Central Havana. Usually closed on Monday. When cane supplies are low, these places shut down unexpectedly.

There are a ton of places in the suburbs too. In La Lisa, I know this little place that sells a guarapo that will knock you on your back. And if you are even in the town of Regla, just go down the main street and you will see a great place. Regla is just on the other side of the Bay of Havana. Take the ferry there for 1 peso (MN).

If you are really interested, got to www.BestCubaGuide.com and download my complete Real Havana guide. You can even get the tips and tricks guide for FREE! Learn how to explore Cuba like a local and save money!

Thanks RealHavana, I don’t get into Havana as much as I should. I’ll start to look more for guarapo stands in smaller towns though. Great stuff.