Sunday, February 24, 2008

En mi casa toman Bustelo

I learned about Café Bustelo from UHF television — from commercials on New York's WNJU, channel 47, which served New York and New Jersey's Spanish-speaking population.¹ As a college student, I watched 47 for the hilarity of professional wrestling (in English, with a very young Vince McMahon, and in Spanish, from Mexico) and the strangeness of Walter Mercado. I can still recite the station's mid-1970s slogan: "¡Siga adelante con su nuevo Canal cuarenta y siete, el canal de los grandes y espectáculos!"

I latched onto instant Bustelo back then as my coffee of choice — instant espresso! Back then, one could find Bustelo — "Cuban coffee" — in any bodega or supermarket in the NY-NJ area. Here in downstate Illinois, I buy instant Bustelo at an international grocery. Bustelo is especially good with Vanilla Silk (café con leche de soja, I guess), and it's much cheaper than instant Medaglia D'Oro.

The Bustelo commercials I saw featured a hearty men's chorus, singing "Bustelo, Bustelo, si sabe café," followed by the plaintive voice of one little girl: "En mi casa toman Bustelo; en mi casa toman Bustelo." En mi casa, they (I) still do.

Bustelo Blends (Rowland Coffee)

[Translations: Keep watching (or more literally, follow onward with) your new Channel 47, the channel of the great and spectacular! Coffee with soy milk. Bustelo, Bustelo, if you know coffee. In my house they drink Bustelo; in my house they drink Bustelo.]

¹ What? You don't remember UHF? Oh, okay.

comments: 6

Anonymous said...

That's funny. I learned about it by watching Noticia 47 -- the news before wrestling from Florida on Tuesday nights. Not knowing a single word of Spanish (I still don't), 30-some-odd years later I can still see the goofy cat with the umbrella (Lluvioso?) and hear the newscasters with "Mi bucito de cafe bustello....or something like that." Good coffee, though!

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, and for mentioning that cat (which I'd forgotten).

Anonymous said...

I have drank coffee since I was a child, and Bustelo since my mother sent it to me over a decade ago. While it is hard to find and expensive here in MN, I wouldn't trade it for any other coffee. I don't care for instant coffee, even Bustelo, but regular Bustelo is coffee to wake the dead. Overall, sir, you have excellent taste.

Michael Leddy said...

"[R]egular Bustelo is coffee to wake the dead": yes indeed. I do like the instant more — it has a chocolate flavor that I really like.

There was a piece by Gordon Lish decades ago in Esquire on making perfect coffee. The ingredients, if I remember correctly, were water, regular Bustelo, cheesecloth, and a strainer.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Anon. Enjoy your coffee.

Anonymous said...

I remember Bustelo Cafe from the same Ch. 47 commercials! All of them were classics: Bustelo, Ron Superior, True Cigarettes, Pepsi, and others. Ch. 47 was leader of the pack, and even had The Three Stooges (in Spanish) at a time when NY TV stations refused to air them due to pressure by parent and teacher groups.

Are there any videos out there of those old Bustelo TV ads? Post them here.

Michael Leddy said...

Anon., I check YouTube once in a while but haven’t found anything.