I first met Dr. Gaby Kafie at Intertabac in 2018 but, we had chatted a few times over Facebook before then. When I met him at the stand he was exhibiting on, he was with several other brands being distributed by a European company. If memory serves me right, there was Mombacho, Hiram and Solomon, San Jeronimo and Blanco cigars on the stand. This was a fun stand to visit as they were all so friendly and generously offered cigars and rum. Gaby is a very humble man, his manners and personality reminded me of my former employers, Edward and Eddie Sahakian of Davidoff of London. I was very pleased that Gaby said yes to UK distribution by Boutique Smokes. Last year, Gaby also set up a new corporation called the Boutique Cigar Association of America which only allows brands which are family owned and produce less than 1 million cigars per year (www.thebcaa.org). Currently they have 33 brand members.
The B.C.A.A. aims 'to promote and protect small boutique cigar makers, their cigars and the community of boutique cigar enthusiasts'.
The Core Values & Beliefs At the Boutique Cigar Association are:
• Promoting and celebrating the small, independent, traditional and innovative culture of boutique cigars
• Vigorously defending our industry and proving boutique cigar makers with a unified voice
• Fostering transparency with our own organisation
• Supporting and encouraging the responsible enjoyment of cigars among legal aged individuals
• Providing stewardship for more than 300 years of cigar making history
• Educating boutique cigar makers and consumers about the diversity of tobacco, blends, and quality
• Improving the economic health of the boutique cigar makers
• Working to build a collegial community of boutique cigar makers, brand owners, retailers, and enthusiasts
• Promoting ethical and legal trade practices
• Building relationships and collaborating with our industry partners
It seems fitting that we found a brand that is supporting boutique brands in America and supporting Boutique Smokes in the UK. For those who don’t know, Dr. Gaby Kafie is a licensed physician whose passion for cigars returned him to his country of birth, Honduras. His ancestors emigrated from Europe to Honduras in 1901, hence the name Kafie 1901. Gaby is now based in Miami. Whilst he does not own tobacco plantations, he set up the Kafie Trading Company LLC in 2013. Whilst he had the passion and heritage to make something in Honduras, he did not have the expertise to set up his own factory. Cleverly, Gaby partnered up with the one of oldest cigar factories in Honduras, Tabacalera Puros Aliados. This factory was founded over 25 years ago by the late Rolando Reyes Sr. As partnerships go, this was a good one. Gaby immediately had access to a wealth of experience and knowledge which only fuelled his desire to produce more cigars. Eventually this led to the creation of Tabacalera G. Kafie y Cia in 2016.
Tabacalera G. Kafie y Cia is housed in a 2000 square foot building in Danli, Honduras. As cigar factories go (especially compared to Cuban), this would be considered state of the art. Air conditioning, cellophane wrapper production, cigar box production and 100% Spanish cedar wood ageing room are housed there along with the entire cigar making process. There, they produce the 4 core lines of Kafie 1901: Don Fernando Maduro, Kafie 1901 Connecticut, Kafie 1901 San Andres and Kafie 1901 Sumatra. They started with just 12 rollers with an aim to produce 100-150,000 cigars a year when they opened in 2016. As of this year, 2020, they now employ 24 cigar rollers and produced 480,000 cigars in 2019!
Strangely enough, it was the San Jeronimo Habano Natural cigar which I first smoked and not a Kafie 1901 cigar. This was gifted to me by Gaby. It’s actually a brand his company distributes and is owned by Oscar Orlando Ferrera, who is also Gaby’s factory manager. The San Jeronimo is currently our only torpedo vitola and has sold well.
In 2019, Joe and I attended Intertabac and met up with Gaby before the event. I was already sure when we met and spoke again that I wanted Kafie 1901’s. As I’ve said before I base my choices on a variety of criteria but, one of the most important factors is the people behind the brand. Gaby’s personality and demeanour reminded me of my mentors, Edward and Eddie Sahakian. These are people I trust and respect. Gaby felt like an old friend and he welcomed us to his apartment in Dortmund. We got to hang out with his friends including Armen Caprielian of DAV cigars, drink wine, smoke cigars and talk. After we pitched Boutique Smokes and what we wanted from our partners, I think we had the deal sorted.
To try these fine smokes for yourself, and find out more about each of the three vitolas we stock head to the Kafie 1901 brand here and further info on Kafie 1901 can be found on their website; https://www.kafiecigars.com/news