Cozy Coffee Cafe and the History of the Cuban Sandwich

Welcome To Cozy Coffee Cafe!

Cozy Coffee Cafe is small family owned business owned and operated by husband and wife team Casey and Matina Schoonover. They are striving to be the best they can be and to put chain coffee shops to shame with great coffee, great atmosphere and great friendly customer service. Consistency is what sets Cozy Coffee Cafe apart from the rest. You will get the same exact great tasting drinks and food time and time again. They opened right at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, with that being said, they are here and are open and we will continue to do everything they can to make your visit safe and enjoyable.

Community is very important. They have participated in many events such as Free Live Music Drive in Concerts with curb side delivery. Back Pack and school supply drive For Coaches Mentoring Through Basketball. Back The Blue Car Show to help raise money for The Blue Line Bears Foundation. An Angel Tree for the Teen Foster Kids at National Youth Advocate Program for teens ages 11-17.

In November of 2020 Cozy Coffee Cafe took part in the 2nd Annual Latino Food Festival and the 9th Annual Ford Cuban Sandwich Festival. They took 1st place in World Best Tampa Historic Cuban Sandwich and 3rd Place for Traditional Cuban Sandwich. Quite an accomplishment they are proud of!!

Cozy Coffee Café LLC.  - Casey & Matina Schoonover

Phone: (813) 373-5207 - 13312 Telecom Drive, Temple Terrace, FL 33637

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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History Of The Cuban Sandwich!

There are some tales that the first Cuban sandwich was made more than 500 years ago the by Taíno tribe in Cuba, that inhabited the island before Europeans arrived. Apparently, the Taínos used casabe bread, made from yucca, to make the dish. Cassava (aka Casabe) Bread is a flatbread, that’s as hard and thin as a cracker, made from cassava flour. Instead of pork which was unavailable at the time the tribe would use fish and bird meat inside the center of two slices of casabe.

When the Spaniards eventually arrived on the island, meats such as pork and ham were quickly introduced into the native’s diets. Casabe was substituted for a bread-like alternative also. So traces of the sandwich originate back from the original islanders, but it was really only the beginnings of a sandwich once the Spanish arrived with dough and pork.

Fast forward to the late 1800s and early 1900s, when travel between Cuba and Florida was easy, especially from Key West and Tampa, and Cubans frequently sailed back and forth for employment in cigar factories. Because of this constant and largely undocumented movement of people, culture and ideas, it is really quite impossible to say exactly when or where the Cuban sandwich that we know today originated. But it is thought that the sandwich was a common lunch food for workers in both the cigar factories and sugar mills of Cuba and once they relocated to a similar occupation in America the Cubans were seeking a similar lunch food.

As they started to add other popular ingredients of other migrant workers in the factories – mainly Italian, German and Spanish you start to see how the current Cuban sandwich was formed. In Tampa the addition of Salami comes from the Italian influences and Mustard was possibly introduced by the Germans as an ideal condiment that didn’t spoil in the Florida heat.

The first recorded mentions of a distinct Cuban sandwich come from descriptions of workers’ cafés in Ybor City and West Tampa from around 1900. It was during Fidel Castro’s rise to power in 1959 that a real wave of Cuban immigrants started settling in Miami and bringing with them their culture and cuisine that we see the beginnings of the Cuban sandwich in Miami, which certainly put Cuban sandwiches on the world map.

There is another solid claim to origin that Tampa has – the Cuban bread. This is actually something that was invented in Tampa at La Joven Francesca bakery. Established in 1896 by the Sicilian-born Francisco Ferlita who was a Cuban-Spanish-Italian immigrant, it’s said that he created this particular style of bread. It sold for 3-5 cents a loaf and in Ybor City, Tampa. Bread (like milk) used to be delivered every morning. Houses actually had a sturdy nail driven into the doorframe next to the door on which deliveryman would impale the fresh loaf of bread.

So it has been a traditional form of bread in Tampa for a long time and right around the time of the first documented sightings of the Cuban sandwich.

Cozy Coffee Cafe and the History of the Cuban
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