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  • Writer's pictureBen Balliro

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Updated: Dec 25, 2019

This is a topic I absolutely love talking about. If e’er a way to start the day it’s an espresso and a breakfast cigar. Imagine, you wake up from your vacation hotel stay, and it’s just before first light. You’re in no hurry and enjoy the peace and quiet. So what are you to do? Go for a swim? Plan a hike? Head to the old golf course? or perhaps brunch with some family and friends. Whatever the reason, the point is it’s your day. I can think of no better way to get started then coffee and a cigar as a lot of people do. But what exactly constitutes a “breakfast cigar”?

There really is no definitive category of “breakfast cigar”, per se, but there are some cigars that are just go-to’s first thing in the morning. Now depending on the level of strength in the A.M. some prefer a strong cigar with a lot of Nicaraguan ligero and dark maduro wrappers; the equivelent of a cup of black Turkish coffee. In my experience though most of the time someone describes a “breakfast smoke” as usually a Connecticut Shade wrapper or a light Dominican cigar. Something that isn’t too strong, but enough to get your attention and doesn’t overpower your breakfast. Below is a list of a few cigars that I have enjoyed as part of a balanced breakfast.

1. Joya De Nicaragua Cabinetta.

Pick any size of this cigar you want, the only difference is how much time you want to spend smoking. This cigar is impeccably contrasted with a unique blend of two different wrappers; an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper after the band, and a dark Nicaraguan Habano Criollio wrapper before the band. It has Nicaraguan binder and filler, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that’s to make it stronger, it adds complexity. It’s a masterfully blended mild to medium body cigar with creamy notes of vanilla and hazelnut and un soupçon of maplewood and honey. Sizes range from a Corona Gorda at 5 1/4 x 46 all the way up to a Churchill size at 6 7/8 x 46 there is a proper size for every occasion. My personal favorite is the Robusto 5x50 and with an MSRP of less than 7 bucks a piece, it’s as affordable as it is delicious.

2. Baccarat.

This line of cigars, made by Davidoff group under the Camacho Line extention, is one of the best kept secrets in the cigar industry. The pièce de résistance of this brand is that it is the most affordable Davidoff cigar you can buy, and the value is substantial. The full name of the brand is Baccarat the Game and produces a creamy and smooth smoke with leaves harvested from the Ranchos Jamastran valley in Danli Honduras. Officially introduced to the public in 1978 it successfully postulated the cigar market theory that just because something is inexpensive, doesn’t mean it’s of poor quality. Quite the contrary in fact, this mild cigar is a perfect compliment to any occasion especially in the morning. My personal recommendation is the Baccarat No.1 at 7 x 44 because it’s a mild enough cigar that you can smoke for a while without getting tired of it. A box of 25 at MSRP less than $114 makes this choice the bargain of the century.

3. Drew Estate Undercrown Shade.

If you know anything about Jonathan Drew of Drew estate, you know he is serious about the quality of his cigars. I know I’m still upset that he sold out to Swisher Sweets and yes that did make me a little skeptical. Say what you want about his corporate contractual agreements, he has a broad portfolio of premium tobacco blends and anyone would be hard pressed to not find at least one of his lines you like; say the Acid Kuba Kuba. Arguably the most popular cigar in his portfolio and even outselling most of the competition of infused cigars.

The cigar of choice that fits this list though is the Undercrown Shade. Like most other Drew Estate cigars it’s a multinational blend concocted by the ingenuity of Master Blender Willy Herrera of Drew Estate. Composing of an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Sumatran binder, as well as Dominican Criollo '98 and Nicaraguan Criollo & Corojo fillers it provides both complexity and character with hints of baking spices, cedar, and black pepper zing on the retrohale. My recommendation is the Belicoso at 6 x 52 at an MSRP of $9. The tapered tip and larger ring gauge means you get more airflow and concentrated flavors on the back of your pallete. Paired with a dark roast Arabica Brazilian coffee and you will find that both the coffee and cigar complement one another, like two old friends playing catchup.

4. Olivia Serie G Boxed Pressed

This blend by Oliva Cigars is one I will always keep in stock. I typically smoke this cigar while I’m at the dog park sitting on a bench mid afternoon because it works surprisingly well in the outdoors. It’s the Box Pressed Serie G and it’s not what you might consider to be your average morning smoke of choice. Once you taste it you will comprehend a different, almost abstract viewpoint of the stereotypical dark shade wrapper of breakfast cigars. Introduced originally by Oliva Cigar Co. in 2000 under the name Olivia Serie G Grand Cameroon, it was renamed in 2006 as Olivia Serie G Cameroon. This cigar dawns an African Cameroon wrapper, with a Habano binder and Nicaraguan Habano fillers. If you are not already familiar with the way Cameroon tobacco works, it’s typically more difficult to harvest, more expensive to produce, and provides a thinner leaf. The flavors, however, are extraordinary when this cigar is properly stored and aged for a bit. It’s Cameroon wrapper offer sweet overtones with flavors of earth, leather, cedar and hickory wood make it a perfect compliment for breakfast. Be warned, it’s a fast burner and with the box pressed Robusto at 4 1/2 x 50 lasting around 35-45 min. If you like longer breakfasts times, you should choose one of the larger vitolas of it’s ten size collection.

5. Nub Cafe by Oliva Nub by Oliva Cigar Co.

Sounds like a stutter I know, but this is a real thing. Someone somewhere put two and two together and came up with a solution. The question is, “what if I want to smoke a cigar and enjoy the flavors of my favorite coffee without the cup and spoon?”. That’s a great question, ironically people like smoking cigars with their coffee, and there is no better way to combine these two elements together than in a coffee infused cigar. The Nub brand of cigars was introduced to the public in 2008 under the supervision of the experimentation division of Oliva, Studio Tobac. Sam Leccia who was a former sales rep to Oliva Cigars, brought the idea to Studio Tobac to make a size that represented the best part of the cigar which is generally believed to be around the beginning of the second third. Now take that length, increase the ring guage to a fatter spectrum and give it some coffee flavors and Vioala! You have created something unique and delicious. Nub Cafe by Oliva Nub has three line extensions of there coffee infused choices. Nub Cappucino, Nub Machiato, and Nub Espresso. My personal recommendation is the Nub Espresso as you get more of the dark coffee overtones and an underlying sweetness. It kind of tastes like black coffee with sugar, but cocoa powder flavors resonating throughout your olfactories. Try not to retrohale this cigar too much as the infusion ingredients may burn your nostrils a little bit. This 4 x 60 Gordito size makes it both appealing and unique looking. I do NOT recommend storing these cigars with the rest of your collection because the flavors of this cigar will marry and alter the flavors of your other collections.

These are just a few of my favorite things, obviously there are more choices and my search will deliciously continue. On to the next smoke!

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