At a worktable littered with tobacco leaves, a man and woman work quickly and quietly as they roll cigars, thick plumes of smoke surrounding them. Francisco Soza and Maria Jose, two skilled cigar rollers from Nicaragua, roll 200 cigars a day with authentic Cuban tobacco leaves at Cuban Crafters on Providenciales for all patrons to see. Francisco normally has a cigar of his own dangling from his lips as he concocts each cigar fusion. He has to taste the final product, after all.
“The smell is very strong,” says Indiana Virgil, Cuban Crafters manager. “But then you get accustomed to it.”
To the left of the table are three rocking chairs where customers can sit back, puff on a cigar and watch the masters at work. Shelves supporting wooden cigar boxes line the walls. To the right is a walk-in humidor, where cigars are stored at a constant temperature of 70 degrees with a humidity range of 70 to 75 percent. Three shelves inside are stacked with these Turks and Caicos cigars. Some are wrapped in newspaper on the floor, while others are stored in boxes. The humidor maintains an environment similar to that in which the tobacco was grown and fermented. The cigars have to remain here until they’re used to ensure they don’t dry out, says Indiana, who herself smokes a cigar a day.
It’s an intricate operation, and the only one of its kind on Provo. Cuban Crafters gives its visitors a glimpse into the world of cigar making. It’s as if you’re in an actual cigar factory in Havana.
Francisco shifts through the tobacco leaves of Cuban seeds grown in Nicaragua (allowing them to be shipped to the United States), choosing a mixture of three or four different kinds to use in the cigar. Maria takes over from there. She uses a razor blade to shape the leaf that will encase the cigar. Starch from the cassava plant covers the leaf, acting as a natural adhesive to hold the cigar together. She wraps the finishing leaf around the cigar and places the final product in a presser, where it remains for half an hour.
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