Cafe Bustelo Roots & History in Spanish Harlem, NYC


When I think of my fondest memories of my grandma, I always think of cafecito time in the afternoons/evenings, which brings me to Cafe Bustelo.  In my opinion, Cafe Bustelo is the staple in a Latino home. The iconic brand has a rich history rooted in tradition and community. It was such an honor to participate in an NYC excursion with Cafe Bustelo and a group of influencers.


The day started around 2 p.m. where we met at the Cafe Bustelo pop-up store in Little Italy on Broome St. I absolutely loved the decor and homey vibes.


We traveled to Cuba and enjoyed delicious traditional Cuban food at Cuba, the restaurant. We also learned how to make the perfect cortadito using a stove top coffee maker, or as Latino’s call it, a greca. Of course, we indulged in pastries as the cafe kept flowing.

Our next stop was Spain atDespaña I loved the communal tables and learning about how the owners aimed to bring traditional Northern Spain vibes to the place. I’ve never been to Spain but it’s a hot spot so clearly, they’re doing something right! Even though I’m semi-vegan I let that go this day to truly enjoy it all. I nibbled on ham, tried a strong blue cheese, cider and bread. I also picked up a very popular Spanish torta made with olive oil and cinnamon loved it!


The day came to a close with a walk down memory lane in Spanish Harlem where we learned about Gregorio Bustelo, his first store, the thriving community (its contributions to the development of what we now know as Spanish Harlem), and the surrounding businesses at large. We had a taste of a what many enjoyed back in the 30s: pastelitos from Valencia Bakery (which they’ve been making for 80+ years)  paired guessed it, Cafe Bustelo. I love guava anything so naturally, I snatched one up real quick!!

It’s amazing to think that you live in such a vibrant and historic city and yet not know all that there is to know about it. Walking through Spanish Harlem and learning about life there back in the day and other monumental moments was simply amazing. If there’s one thing I enjoy is learning, about anything, but even more so about Latin American history. It seriously made me feel like going back to school lol.


The entire day continuously brought me back to a simple yet powerful feeling: connection. Don’t we all just seek to be connected in some way to someone? Something? A moment? Sharing that with everyone while being transported in time and feeling connected to the history of my Latino community was the best way to conclude Hispanic Heritage Month. And it’s a testament to what Senor Bustelo was creating all those years ago that we still partake in today and the message of the legendary brand: to bring people together.