Cuban coffee is a breakfast staple, an afternoon pick-me-up, or the perfect reason to congregate with friends around ‘la ventana’ at Versailles while enjoying salty croquetas and some chiste. The Miami nectar even has its own hashtag, #305cafecito, denoting the time for the afternoon colada and honoring the city’s famous ‘305’ area code.
Cuban coffee is part of my everyday routine, and it has become something I cannot live without. I hate to admit that I totally get a caffeine headache by noon if I haven’t had a cup of joe or a colada. The smell of coffee is comforting, and I eagerly anticipate a hot cafe con leche each morning.
A good Cuban coffee has a solid espumita- and it all comes from beating the sugar with a teaspoon of thick brewed coffee. Apparently some people add sugar into the water in the cafetera so it brews already sweetened, but in my opinion, a Cuban coffee isn’t a Cuban without the caramel crowning glory of rich espuma on the cafecito.
How to Make Cuban Coffee:
- Cuban Coffee Maker
- Ground espresso beans, preferably Cafe Bustelo
- Sugar (2-3 teaspoons per 3 servings)
Fill the cafetera with water coming just beneath the circular opening, many Cubans also prefer to fill the water up to the little metal knob on the inside of the cafetera. Insert the metal coffee filter (or coffee percolator) and fill evenly with freshly ground Cuban coffee. Press the coffee down with a small spoon to make sure it is packed in the percolator. I prefer to use Café Bustelo instead of Pilon, but you can use whichever brand you prefer.
Screw on the lid of the cafetera and leave it open so you can see when the coffee begins to come out. Place on a burner on high heat and patiently stand by the oven waiting for those first few precious drops of the dark elixir to stream out. It is very important that you wait for the coffee to begin instead of walking away and forgetting.
The very first drops of the coffee are the thickest and the best for making a rich and creamy espuma for a genuine Cuban coffee. Quickly pour about a teaspoon of the fresh coffee into a small stainless steel bell shaped pitcher (apparently this is what it is called) that is holding 2-3 teaspoons of sugar depending on how sweet you like your coffee. Beat the sugar and coffee together with the spoon scraping the granules along the sides of the metal container to break them down. Continue aggressively beating until the sugar forms a creamy consistency the color of caramel.
The coffee should be finished percolating at this time and you can begin to slowly pour the hot Cuban coffee into the beaten sugar. Mix slowly with the spoon to create the perfect espumita. My mom always said to pour coffee first for your guests since these will have the thickest layer of espumita, and lastly for yourself as the espuma will likely be all gone.