Anna — better known as @chasefireclub on Instagram — is the owner of La Biblioteca, a cigar club in Orange County, CA. A true cigar lover with a great selection of wonderful cigars on her profile. Anna is passionate about creating different experiences and she sure knows her game! Thank you Anna for accepting this interview with us.
Thank you very much for accepting our interview, it is a pleasure to personally meet you. Who are you?
Pleasure is all mine. My name is anna, I am the owner of “la biblioteca” cigar club in orange county, ca
What motivated you to start producing content for the community?
I started my IG page about 4 years ago, there was no particular motivation at that point, I barely knew how Instagram worked. I was just a cigar smoker, who was taking pictures of cigars to remember and track what I was smoking. The response was great, I developed a passion and I’m thankful for that.
How is the cigar scene in your country?
I live in the US and it’s definitely a large market. Every state is different though, California is the most challenging state due to the regulations and taxes. However, from the consumer point of view, we are lucky to have such a variety.
Do you prefer having a cigar alone or with others?
My choice would be alone, I just love spending time with myself.
Enjoying a cigar: inside or outside?
Definitely inside, especially when you’re trying something new and want to focus on details, like smell, taste, burn, etc.
We’re going to talk about cigars, no matter their origin. However, we have to ask: are you more of a Cuban or a non-Cuban cigar person?
I started my journey in the cigar world with Cubans, specifically smoking Habanos. That’s how my palate started developing. Later on, I got introduced to other regions and wasn’t disappointed. It was the same thing with wine, I absolutely love french and some Italian wines. When I moved to California and started exploring wine country I was impressed by how good their wine is. I can enjoy excellent Californian bubbles, but having a glass of Krug is always a treat.
Imagine that the embargo on Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?
LCDH in downtown la and me applying for a job!
One of your projects is a new cigar lounge. What is the concept behind it?
La Biblioteca / the library — lots of interesting reads while enjoying beautiful cigars. This project is all about the experience. I am creating a space that will allow people to enjoy themselves from the moment they step into it. Either you want complete privacy or having a nice conversation with your friends over a good cigar or enjoying SoCal weather and smoke outside, you can have it all.
If someone reading this wants to build and own a cigar lounge, what is your main advice?
It has to be your passion, you have to love everything about it. You won’t make millions in this business.
Do you have any other cigar-related projects that you want to talk about?
I am working on one project right now, but not ready to talk about it. “happiness loves silence”.
Usually, people have two first-time moments: the first cigar and the cigar that ignited the passion you have today. What were yours?
The passion was ignited with my first cigar, love at first sight!
What’s the best cigar you have ever had?
I am still looking forward to it.
What’s your perfect pairing for a cigar?
Most of the cigars that please my palate work great with good claret wine or champagne (has to be brut, vintages even better).
Everyone has their ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s yours?
I live a very chaotic and busy life, my rituals vary. Yesterday I bit off a cap on my cigar, lit it up, and drove to my friend’s art gallery to enjoy his paintings and company. The day before we set up a private dinner at the club, cigars were cut with scissors, lit with matches, and paired with amazing wines. Both rituals were great and I enjoyed the process to the fullest.
Tell us about your collection. What does your humidor look like?
Since I’m not a collector, but a smoker, it’s pretty average. I have one humidor tower that holds 3000 cigars and one small cooler for 400 sticks. Both of them are full. I would say 75% are Cubans, only because it’s a bit harder to get, so every time I get an opportunity I just stock up.
When we meet someone, we usually give away one cigar as a gesture of good faith. What was the best cigar you have been offered?
Not the best but definitely hard to get, Cohiba 50 Aniversario Majestuosos 1966.
What do you think about cigars as a type of investment, like watches and cars?
I would say cigars are a better investment than cars. You just have to know what to invest in.
You can have as many cigars as you want, forever but it always has to be the same. What would you pick?
Ugh… tough question, I’m getting tired of the same taste pretty fast. Punch Sir David Hong Kong maybe, or a Cohiba Robusto Reserva.
We all made some honest mistakes on our cigar journey. Tell us about your most embarrassing one.
When I was just getting into cigars I was hanging out with a group of people (big-time collectors and cigar snobs). I haven’t seen anything like that, pre-embargo cigars, Edicion Limitada, aged, discontinued, made for diplomatic missions. So every time someone lit up a very special cigar, that you can’t get anywhere we would all share it, just to have this puff and experience the flavors. Sounds so gross to me right now, especially after covid.
As a customer, what do you look for in a cigar retailer?
Knowledgeable staff and wide selection.
With the smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing?
What’s your favorite cigar accessory?
My Xikar cigar scissors on my key chain.
Are you a soft-flame or a torch lighter person?
Everything depends on the environment. Soft flame doesn’t help much when you are at the golf course. If it’s inside soft flame would be my choice.
What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and why?
There are quite a few.
- Michael Herklots — his professionalism and style;
- Ibis lu — her beautiful personality and knowledge;
- Romy Kay with Hiram Salomon — her style and sophisticated taste.
Fake cigars are a real problem, we see them popping everywhere. What’s your take on the counterfeit industry and what can we do to minimize the damage?
As long as demand is there it’s hard to do anything. Myself as a part of the community I try to educate my customers. Also, smoke fewer Cubans.
How do you see the future of cigars on social media?
Since advertising of tobacco products is banned from all the open sources, it’s become very challenging for the companies to market, social media is the way to go and it’s gonna be booming. Personally, I want to see better quality content.
Did something surprise you in the cigar community?
Nothing surprises me anymore.
What is the most overrated cigar for you? And the most underrated?
All of the ratings are very subjective and I don’t follow them, so I don’t know. I know what I like but not sure if others would always agree.
What brand have you never smoked and probably never will?
I have never smoked infused cigars and probably will not.
What is your “unicorn” cigar?
I smoked a lot of “unicorn” cigars without even realizing it at that moment. The one I remember was pre-embargo Davidoff and it didn’t taste good.
What are your top 5 favorite cigars?
- Trinidad Fundadores
- Cohiba Lancero
- Plasencia Reserva 1898
- Opusx Angel Share
- Af Anejo Shark
Finally, do you want to send a message to the community?
I wanted to thank every single person that is following and supporting me in my journey. Smoke well, my beautiful aficionados.
A message to the community
Thank you very much for giving us a bit of your time by reading this article. It really means the world to have you with us. If you want to follow our daily activities head to our Instagram, where we try our best to bring the community together by sharing our love and knowledge for cigars. Have a great day.
Please note that smoking is bad for your health and we do not encourage it at all. These articles are written to show the differences between cigars and never to influence anyone to start smoking. If you are a cigar smoker, please respect others around you.