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The Lector

Tabanero Cigars is dedicated to honoring the past as we usher in the future.  In today’s blog, we are going to discuss an interesting position from the early culture in Ybor: the lector.

Ybor City: The Story

Please imagine with me.  It is 1901 and we are in a cigar factory.  We are looking at a small wooden table covered with tobacco leaves.  Above the table on a shelf is a stack of handmade cigars.  Behind the table, sitting on a wooden chair is a man who came to Tampa from his native Cuba.  His white shirt, though neatly pressed, is tainted by the sultry summer air and clings to his wiry frame.  As we pan out and see his wider environment, we notice that there are dozens of similar workstations occupied by both men and women.  
In the center of the room is a man under a crisp white fedora.  He is sitting on a chair perched on an elevated platform.  In his hand, he holds a newspaper. At his feet are several books.  The room is a deluge of noise: the neighing of horses who are pulling carts full of cigars, the clacking of the chaveta of the worker chopping leaves, and the general bustle of an active factory.  Above this din, the clear voice of the lector is heard. 


This was a common scene in the early days of the cigar industry.  At first, the lector was one of the workers who took thirty minutes or so to read material requested by following workers.  The workers pooled the funds to compensate the lector for the time taken away from making cigars.  The factory owners took notice that worker productivity increased during the times when the lector was reading.  Soon the lector became a hired position.  Quickly lectors became respected and assumed a special role in the community of the cigar artisan. 
Unfortunately, the position of lector dissipated due to the worker revolt of 1931 which was partially blamed on the political material chosen by various lectors. 
The lector will forever be a part of the cigar culture.  We at Tabanero Cigars are cultivating the spirit of the lector through various artist events which we host at our artisan’s boutique.

Talking about Tabanero

The History of Ybor City

On March 16th The Washington Post published an article written by Jason Wilson, “For Ybor City in Florida, a Historic Cigar Town Faces a Cloudy Future.” We are going to expound upon the discussion he raised concerning our town and our craft.  Jason recognized that we are doing something wonderfully unique in Tampa.  “Every minute of every day in Ybor City is a good time for a cigar. in Ybor City, it seems as if — whether perversely or refreshingly — one enters a parallel universe where smoking cigars is still a totally natural part of life.”  This parallel universe, as Jason stated, is the rebirth an industry that was as culturally rich as the soil that produces the savory cigars that made Tampa the envy of the globe. Every renaissance is both the reclamation of the nostalgia of the past and the embrace of the hope of future prospects.  As we at Tabanero Cigars dedicate ourselves to this rebirth of Tampa as the cigar capital, we harken to the past voices.

The Beginnings of Tampa as the Cigar Capital

“Vicente Martinez Ybor created modern Tampa out of a marshy backwater, and the population grew from about 700 in 1880 to more than 37,000 residents in 1910. The best cigar rollers left Cuba for Tampa by the thousands. Ybor brought an expanded port, paved roads, hundreds of new homes and businesses, streetcars, insurance companies and health clinics.  In the early 20th century, Tampa had been the undisputed cigar capital of the world, outproducing even Havana. In its heyday, the city had more than 150 factories, employing about 10,000 workers and rolling more than 500 million cigars each year. Now, beyond the small storefront producers still rolling premium handmade cigars, only one large cigar factory remains.”

How the Past Affects the Present

Jason has correctly identified the nature of the past cigar industry as well as the challenge of the present.  Will Ybor have the large cigar factories that once were the pillars of the industry? Not likely.  However, that is not even part of the vision for the renaissance that Tabanero Cigars is helping to forge.  We believe that the new cigar industry will be a network of cigar boutiques known for the quality of hand-made cigars and not for the quantity.  A similar model might be the growth of ‘craft beer’ as opposed to mass produced beer.  

As more people begin to catch the vision for this nascent artisan boutique in Ybor than we will all see something beautiful blossom in Tampa.

Read the full article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/for-ybor-city-in-florida-a-historic-cigar-town-faces-a-cloudy-future/2017/03/15/c6de6100-efa8-11e6-9662-6eedf1627882_story.html 

The Tabanero Maceda Press Torpedo

The Maceda Press was a huge hit at our anniversary party! It was enjoyed so much that we are getting low on our supply! The Maceda Press is a cigar containing a rich, bold blend of flavorful tobacco delivering a delicious medium to full strength.

The Tabanero Maceda Press is a flavorful blend that starts off with rich tobacco flavors having notes of cedar and a spicy finish that lingers on the palette. You will experience fresh tobacco flavors and a cool draw from start to finish right down to the nub.

Tabanero Cigars Are Better Than Cubans

Handmade by Trained Cuban Artisans

All of the cigars at Tabanero Cigars are handmade in the USA by Cuban Artisans. Every one of our Cuban Artisan rollers are trained in Cuba and come to the famous Ybor City for a chance to live out their dream!

Cuban Rollers at Cigar Rollers

Each cigar rolled at Tabanero Cigars is better than a Cuban cigar. Look next for a Cuban with a Made in the USA logo! There will never be a better cigar than a Tabanero. Find out for yourself here.

Obama Hurting U.S. Small Business by Easing Restrict on Cuban Cigars: A David Garofalo Editorial

Is it a concern or a party? 

Recently, we have been seeing many articles published related to the recent decision by the Obama Administration to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. For some, this is an opportunity to celebrate however for others it's an opportunity to be concerned. There's no doubt that the cigar industry here in the United States will be impacted both positively and negatively. The article below suggests that now that the embargo has been lifted Cuban cigars can now be brought into the United States tax-free. The article goes on to highlight how this will negatively affect the small boutiques in the United States. The thought is that due to the lack of taxation on Cuban cigars and strong demand the American boutique cigar makers will suffer. While this point does have merit, here at Tabanero we see an opportunity. 
Cuban Artisan Cigar Rollers - Tabanero Cigars

Opportunity to Smoke a Cuban Cigar

More recently, at our Tabanero Factory in Ybor City, Tampa, FL we have been fielding a lot of questions from our customers with respect to the impact the lifting of the embargo will actually have. As we mentioned above we believe there will be challenges, however, we also believe there's a great opportunity. For many cigar smokers, those that are new to cigar smoking and those that are seasoned cigar smokers, this will be the first opportunity to get to smoke a Cuban cigar. Why is this important? For many this will be the first time cigar smokers have an opportunity to compare their favorite cigar they have been smoking for years made with Nicaraguan or Dominican tobacco (among others ) with a Cuban.
Tabanero Cigars - Hand Made in Tampa, Florida

Why We See This as an Opportunity

We believe most cigar smokers will find the quality of the cigars they have been smoking in the past will measure up to the Cuban. Many might also find that they not only measure up but that they prefer them over a Cuban. What many cigar smokers don't realize is that the quality of tobacco that is grown in Central and South America among other countries is very high. The characteristics (flavor, strength, and aroma) of this tobacco is very similar to that of tobacco grown in Cuba. 

At Tabanero we hand roll our cigars using very high-quality tobacco from Central and South America. We believe very strongly that cigar smokers will find that our cigar is every bit as good if not better than a cigar made using Cuban tobacco. It's also worth mentioning that the cigar smoking experience goes beyond the quality of the tobacco itself. How a cigar is constructed or rolled is a significant quality component of the cigar. A poorly constructed cigar will result in a poor cigar smoking experience. Here at Tabanero we believe we have the best of both worlds. We have access to some of the best tobacco in the world and the best Cuban Artisan rollers. All of our rollers here in our factory in Ybor City are immigrants from Cuba many of which hand rolled cigars for some of Cuba's most famous cigar manufacturers.
Tabanero Hand Rolling Cigars by Cuban Artisans

We Are Excited!

We recognize there will be some challenges for the American boutique cigar manufacturers now that the embargo has lifted however we are more excited about the opportunity that it presents. We strongly believe that once the American cigar smoker has an opportunity to compare a Cuban side by side with the cigars they have been smoking for years they will find that they haven't been missing a thing! 
So sit back and enjoy a Tabanero Cigar today!  

Our Vision at Tabanero Cigars

Hand-Made Cigars in History

When we see pictures like this but 100 years ago the dreamers like me ask our self how it would be to be there at that time. What would it be like to the smell the aromas, see the people, hear the language?
Tabanero Cigars - Hand Rolled Cigars in Ybor City, FL Owned by Yanko Maceda

Restoring Hand-Rolled Cigars in Ybor City, Florida

I ask myself if a factory in the US can get to 100 rollers again making 90k cigars per week, and in just six years we have gone from 200 cigars units per month to sell to 10k.

Do you believe that we have the quality, passion, and integrity to manufacture and sell 360k cigars per month hand-made in the USA by Cuban artisans?

I do, (and we all do at Tabanero Cigars), I don't pay attention to the naysayers. I concentrate in my Vision and to me this still the land of opportunities. I'm living a dream that it was impossible to fulfill back in Cuba.

Thank you for letting me share, 
Yanko Maceda

Keeping Quality Cigars Fresh

How Do You Keep Cigars Fresh?

Here at Tabanero Cigars we often get asked the question, “how do you keep cigars fresh?” We love this question because it’s an important one. We are passionate about cigars and maintaining the quality of our cigars once they leave our factory is important. In this post, we also discuss the importance of buying cigars directly from boutique factories rather than purchasing them from large cigar retailers. We hope this article will help answer your questions related to maintaining the quality of your cigars. 
Tabanero Cigars - Keeping a Great Cigar Fresh

Two Factors For Fresh Cigars

There are two key factors to keep in mind when keeping cigars fresh; temperature and humidity. 
Our cigars rolled here in our Tabanero factory in Ybor City, Tampa, FL use premium tobacco. This kind of tobacco is best when the temperature and humidity are controlled. This is important because in order to maintain its richness and taste from when it was rolled the temperature and humidity levels need to be controlled. When this premium tobacco burns, it releases sugars and oils stored in its leaves. These two elements of cigar tobacco contribute largely to the taste and flavor of the cigar. Here at Tabanero we spend a significant amount of time blending different tobacco together to achieve a certain flavor profile that we believe our customers will enjoy. If cigars are not properly maintained it will adversely affect the flavor profile of the cigar.
Temperature and humidity also affect how the cigar burns when it is smoked. Often times a cigar that has become too damp will burn too fast on a particular side. This phenomenon is called “tunneling”. The burn of the cigar will become uneven and will create flavors that were not intended when cigar was blended. 

So, How Do You Protect the Flavor and Burn of a Cigar?

Great question! Cigars need to be stored in a container where you can properly control the temperature and humidity. There are many different options for storing cigars. Many cigar aficionados use humidors or other containers that are air tight and lined with Spanish cedar. These containers should provide good air flow to ensure humidity and temperature levels are maintained.
Tabanero Cigars Milano Glass Top Rosewood Humidor - The best thing for keeping your cigars fresh.

What is the Optimal Temperature and Humidity Level to Keep Cigars Fresh?

You will find many articles out on the internet and other sources that suggest 68-72% humidity and a temperature of 70-72F degrees. This is generally a good rule of thumb HOWEVER, the real answer is, it depends. For example, the optimal humidity level for your cigars may be lower than 68 degrees if you live in a climate with high humidity levels such as Florida. If you live in a drier climate then you may find that your humidor needs to be kept slightly above 72%. Here at the Tabanero Factory we keep our humidity levels between 63-65%. We have found that for our Florida location this is the optimal level of humidity for aging and keeping our tobacco fresh to ensure our customers receive a quality product. 
There are many different humidification systems that can be purchased to help control humidity levels. For example, you can purchase humidity beads or humi-packs to help regulate and maintain your cigars. It’s also a good idea to purchase a digital hygrometer which measures both the temperature and humidity of your cigars. It’s very important to check your cigars from time to time. If the cigars feel spongy then your humidity levels are likely too high. If you can hear a crackling sound when gently rolling the cigars between your fingers then the environment is likely too dry. Maintaining the cigar’s humidity and temperature are vital when it comes to maintaining the quality and freshness of a cigar. 

Purchase Quality to Ensure Quality

All of the information that has been provided in the article assumes one thing; that the product you received has been properly cared for before it is delivered to you. When purchasing cigars, it’s critical that you purchase them from a company that you can trust. This can be a challenge when buying cigars from a large retailer. When purchasing cigars from a large US based retailer you must consider the amount of time it takes for cigars to be transported from cigar manufacturers located in Central and South America and the Caribbean. These cigars are not kept in properly humidified containers during shipping and transport. Cigars begin to lose their humidity when the leave the manufacturer. It could be several weeks by the time cigars are sent from the manufacturer and received by the cigar retailer and placed in proper humidification systems. By this point, cigars have lost a significant amount of humidification. This is why it is important to buy your cigars directly from the factory. Here at Tabanero all of our tobacco and rolled cigars are kept in large humidors where the humidity is carefully and properly maintained. Humidity levels are monitored throughout the day to ensure the cigars remain fresh. We also use priority 2-day shipping to deliver cigars to our customers to help minimize the impact of loss humidity. 
Hand-Rolling Cigars at Tabanero Cigar Factory in Ybor City, FL

Enjoy!

We hope that you have found this article to be helpful in maintaining the freshness and quality of your cigars. We also hope that this article has provided useful information to help inform your purchase decisions when buying cigars from a large retailer versus buying cigars direct from US based factories. We are so confident that you will receive a quality product from us that we offer a no questions asked 100% return policy when buying cigars from our Tabanero Factory. So sit back and relax and Hava-Taba!