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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 Genesis Story of Tabanero Cigars

The Story of Tabanero Cigars

“You can do whatever you dream.”
Those were the words my mother spoke to me often.

Just as the golden rays of the rising sun would greet the fertile ground of Cuba, so the words of her encouragement greeted me each morning and planted themselves in my heart. The Cuban soil produced crops of the sweetest sugar and finest tobacco. My heart produced a dream of the truest Old World values and New World optimism.

My name is Yanko Macedo and this is my story. It is a story of how my Cuban heritage and the American Dream are bringing a renaissance of the cigar industry in Tampa by providing you with the finest cigars handmade by greatest artisans who truly love the craft.

I was born in 1978 to a really poor family in the outskirts of Havana. I'm not lucky enough to say my immediate family had farms or factories; we were pretty poor.  It is a wondrous thing that dreams can grow in such a situation, but the human heart is fertile ground regardless the circumstances that surround it.

Cuba is world renowned for her cigars. It is not just the tobacco that is produced there, it is also the craft of the artisan who makes the cigar. I was fortunate to witness these truths in person as a young boy. Growing up I was sent to visit a member of my extended family who had a farm in Pinar de Rio where they still grow tobacco today. It was during the summers spent amongst the fields and people of Pinar that a love for the way of the cigar was cultivated in me.

Even as a young boy I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.  Something that was instrumental in shaping that desire was a movie I saw when I was six or seven. The movie was Baby Boom. The main character starts a business making and selling baby food. She starts it in her home in New York. The business became a big industry. That really caught my attention. Living in Cuba I couldn’t believe there was a country in which you could do things like that. To have a dream, to start in the kitchen of your house and to become such a big industry – this is wonderful. It is amazing. I wanted to see my dreams come true in America.

In school, every time that they ask me, ‘So Yanko, what are you going to do when you finish this or that?” I always said, “I’m going to America!”  They would say, “ Ah man, you always say that same thing that you are going to America.”

Well, I finally made it when I was sixteen. The first nine years I wasted in Miami by chasing the wrong dreams. I thought that what I was looking for was money, was riches and all that came with it. It took me nine years and eight different ventures, eight different ideas before I understood that what I was looking for was a purpose. The real dream was to feel that I had a purpose.

I remembered those fields from my youth and the beautiful way the artisans made the cigars. The vision of Tabanero Cigars was born. It is my American dream arising from my Cuban heritage. But how was I going to make my dream, my passion a reality?

One of my early ventures was a restaurant in the heart of Tampa, in Ybor City. I remember that on my breaks between lunch and dinner, I used to walk 7th Avenue. It was full of small boutiques. Every time I'd go into a small shop and try different cigars. I was astonished by the lack of consistency. On Wednesday it would taste like this and then on Friday it would be a different batch and it was a completely different taste. I thought, “Well, it looks like these people are treating their small business like a souvenir shop.”

So, I started to search in order to discover if there was a hand-made brand made here in Tampa. Whenever I asked someone the first word out of their mouths was Arturo Fuente or JC Newman.  However, Newman stopped producing hand made cigars in the 50s and switched to machine made. Arturo Fuentes left Tampa in late 70s and moved to Nicaragua. It didn’t work out in Nicaragua and they moved to the Dominican Republic. So there was no hand made brand in Tampa, Florida. That is when I became determined to start a brand to put Tampa back on the map as the premier place for the finest hand-made cigars.

Thus began the adventure of Tabanero Cigars. The first chapter of our journey began by opening a small cigar lounge by the airport in Tampa. It only lasted a year and depleted all my money. It failed. I fell. So, I took a break and started really small with one cigar roller in a little 120 square foot space.  After working with me for two weeks my only roller left because he said that I didn’t have enough clients coming through the door for me to pay him. I said to myself, “Well, what do I do now?”

But I was so sure of my dream and I was working so hard on my vision of having a hand made brand in Tampa that no obstacle was going to stop me. The feeling was so strong that God had been lining up every piece that I needed to make the dream a reality. He was putting together every piece to make the Tabanero brand the most famous brand in the world. My vision was clear. When people mention Cuba anywhere in the world, whether in Dubai, Paris, or Chicago they think of quality cigars. That is what I wanted for Tabanero. Wherever a person is located, whenever they think of fine hand-made cigars, they will think of Tampa and Tabanero.

So in that little space I grew to five rollers. I had to work outside because there was not enough room for me to work in the same place as the rollers. I realized that we needed a new location. We moved five times in a short span of time. At one location we were having our best sales when we were presented with a new opportunity. The owner of a new Cuban-themed nightclub approached me and said, “Yanko, would you like to have an opportunity to move to 7th Avenue?” I jumped at the chance. They put us in a corner of the nightclub where the patrons to the club could watch our rollers. We were doing good numbers from that corner and I thought we had finally arrived. But after six months the nightclub failed and someone called to tell me we had to be out by the end of the month. It was a difficult time.

People saw me pack all our stuff into a truck and they thought, “Well, that's the end of Tabanero.” I had to move into a house which we rented in Ybor Heights. It was a disappointing setback. So I prayed more earnestly and worked even harder on my vision. I would come to the four corners in the heart of Ybor each day for an hour and envision our store in this location. Then I would say to God, “I want to be on one of these corners. I don’t know where and I don’t know how. You know we don’t have the money, but God I want to be on one of these four corners.”

I wait patiently and patiently at the little house where we were barely surviving. One day a business owner approached me and said, “I have a place on 22nd across from the Columbia restaurant which has been in Tampa for a hundred and five years.” I said, “Well, that's better than a house!” So we moved over there and begin growing again. But I did not forget about my prayer to God to be located on one of the four corners.

My heart focused upon a storefront on Seventh avenue that was perfect. I called the landlord telling him I wanted to rent. He said, “No.” But I did not give up. I kept calling him. For four months, every week I would call him. At first, he would answer but after the sixth call he got really mad at me and said, “Please don’t call me anymore I said 'no' already.” I kept calling anyway and would leave a message saying, “This is Yanko Macedo and this is your weekly call. Please if you change your mind let me know – this is my number.”

One day I was overwhelmed by my passion for making Tabanero Cigars the best hand-made cigar boutique in the world. I called the landlord and left a voice mail from the bottom of my heart.  God knows it was from the bottom of my heart. I said, “Sir, you've been saying “no” for four months, but I really, really beg you that we meet face to face and allow me to share with you how we can infuse that corner with the right clientele. There have been bars at that corner forever and it has never positively affected your surrounding neighbors. Let me share with you how my clientele is going to help make that corner a destination point.” The next day at 8 a.m. I got a phone call from the landlord saying, “Ok Yanko, I want to hear what you have to say. I'll see you at 10 am.”

We met and he believed in our dream. So we are now in that location! I love it; I'm so blessed. Customers say to me, “You have a great location.” I respond, “No I don’t have a great location. I have the best location!” From Tampa, Florida we can save the world. If we are talking about cigars, there is not a location like this in Miami, there is not a location like this in New York, there is no location like this anywhere in the world. I am so blessed. Every time I write my check to the landlord I always put a note in there: “John, Thank You. Thank you for the opportunity. I can't thank you enough.” I do it every month.

When I reflect on where we are and remember from where we came – wow.  It is hard to believe that a kid from Havana, a kid with no schooling, could have such an opportunity and through hard work fueled by an unwavering belief in his dream come to this place. Well, that is my dream; this is my story.

Tabanero Cigars Featured in Cigar Snob Magazine

We were recently featured in Cigar Snob Magazine! 

Read the full article below and find out more about why we love what we do. The featured Maceda Press Torpedo is named after Tabanero Cigars owner, Yanko Maceda. Find out more about the Maceda Press here.

Tabanero Cigars Featured in Cigar Snob Magazine

It's a reassuring feeling of our passion being recognized, and we will once again conquer the cigar industry in Ybor City just like Vicente Martinez Ybor did over 100 years ago! Find out more about our passion here.

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.

December 17, 2016

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Recap: Our 6th Anniversary (In Photos!)

We had a great night last night at our 6th year anniversary!

Thank you to all who joined us. See our photo recap below of the event.

Join us next year for our 7th anniversary!

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!  

Ybor City Cigar Festival - November 19, 2016

Ybor City Cigar Festival - Ybor City, FL

Mark Your Calendars for the Biggest Cigar Event in the Cigar Capital of the World!

The Ybor Cigar Festival is on Saturday, November 19, 2016.
Gates open at 11am till 5pm
Located in Centennial Park
1800 E 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Admission is $5 per person. This family-friendly event will have guest speakers, cigar rolling demonstrations, great food, and more! We are passionate about Cigars and making the best Tampa cigars. At this special event, you will have the opportunity to see demonstrations of our Cuban Artisans hand-roll cigars. Come by to help support the history of Ybor City, FL! Find out more here.

Enjoy the 2016 Photo Re-Cap Below and We'll See You in 2017!

Tabanero Cigars | Ybor City Cigar Festival

Tabanero Cigars | Ybor City Cigar Festival

Tabanero Cigars Ybor City Cigar Festival

 

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!