After Losing its Flavor, Cuba’s “Cathedral of Ice Cream” Loses its Lines

On the ground floor, half of the tables were also empty, something unusual in the history of Coppelia. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 27 May 2022 — Coppelia, Cuba’s “Cathedral of Ice Cream” in the heart of Havana’s Vedado district, has always been characterized, more than by the quality of its product — always far from that sixties dream of Fidel Castro of producing more and better flavors than the United States- – due to the very long lines that had to be endured before entering under the shade of its concrete ceilings.

In recent weeks, those lines, like the flavor of their ice cream scoops, which they have been making since March with soy milk instead of cow’s milk, have disappeared. “Go up to the tower, it’s empty!” employees shouted at customers who agreed this Friday to cool off in the May heat, asking them to go up to the top floor, traditionally the most frequented.

On the ground floor, half of the tables were also empty, something unusual since the place was founded, in 1966.

“It’s just that lately it has very few flavors,” argued a girl, who admits that she goes to Coppelia less than she used to. “When the price increase started, they increased the variety and improved a little bit. Now they all taste the same.”

One of the generalized complaints is the scarcity with which they distribute the ice cream scoops for the ‘salads’ – as the multi scoop treats are called. In the opinion of a young client they are only half of what they should be.

Another regret is that in the salads they offer for sale – two per person at 70 pesos – there is less and less variety of flavors (this Friday, only vanilla and guava). The chocolate, which is part of the obligatory combination, vanishes within a few hours of opening.

Niño, if you combine the salads with the same flavors, how come you run out of chocolate first?” a lady complained to one of the employees, who tried an unlikely response: “In the areas where the employees went out to lunch, they still have a little left.”

The woman was not satisfied. “Here what happens is the usual, intrigue and business,” she murmured between her teeth. “They are doing something with that chocolate*. Because if they start out with the same amount of chocolate as guava and vanilla, it cannot be that it runs out hours earlier.”

Beyond musings, the reasons for Coppelia to be emptied of customers must also be sought in the increase in competition. In recent years, other ice cream parlors, private ones, have proliferated, offering a slightly more expensive product, but of much higher quality.

Another young man, who usually frequents these businesses, is blunt: “Here in Coppelia the ice cream is bad and they have raised the price, and that’s it. This ice cream should be served to the visitors of the Cumbre del Alba [the Alba Summit], so that they know what ‘integration’ is.”

*Translator’s note: She is implying that they are selling it ‘under the table’ and/or taking it home.

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