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How to Make Cuban Coffee: A Guide to the Perfect Brew

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By Daniel Bruce

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Cuba’s Thriving Coffee Culture

Cuba, known for its vibrant culture and rich history, also boasts a flourishing coffee scene. Locals and visitors enjoy robust urban coffee or espresso throughout the day. flavorsThe country has begun cultivating its excellent coffee beans, contributing to its growing reputation in the coffee world.

A Taste of Cuba – Café Cubano

Cuban coffee, or café cubano, is a beloved beverage that has also gained popularity under the name cafecito, meaning “small coffee.” This delightful drink consists of an espresso sweetened with a luscious sugar foam, making it a lovely treat often enjoyed as a dessert beverage.

Cuban Coffee

How to Make Cuban Coffee at Home

If you’re eager to experience the wonders of Cuban coffee without leaving the comfort of your own home, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you recreate this delightful drink.

Ingredients and Tools You’ll Need

To make Cuban coffee, you’ll need the following ingredients and tools:

  • Ground coffee: Traditionally, Cuban coffee uses a very dark roast, such as an Italian or Spanish roast. These roasts are so dark that they almost appear burnt, but they pair wonderfully with the sugar in the drink. While your specialty light roast may not work for this particular beverage, popular brands for Cuban coffee include Cafe Bustelo, Cafe La Llave, and Cafe Pilon.
  • ¼ cup of sugar: You can use white sugar, depending on your preference. White sugar provides a cleaner taste, allowing the coffee flavor to shine, while brown or demerara sugar yields a thicker foam and a sweeter, more molasses-like flavor.
  • A six-cup stovetop espresso maker, also known as a Moka pot: This devi iso makes strong coffee, with each cup measuring just two ounces. A six-cup Moka pot will produce 12 ounces of rich, robust espresso-like coffee.
  • A large bowl or measuring cup with a pourable spout: This will be used to prepare the Cuban coffee before transferring it to the serving glasses.
  • A one-tablespoon measuring spoon
  • A spoon, fork, or small whisk
  • Four small serving glasses, ideally between 3 and 4 ounces each, such as espresso cups

The Story Behind Cuban Coffee

Cuba’s coffee culture has been shaped by historical events, particularly the United States embargo in 1960. The government created a unique blend of coffee, roasted beans, and chickpeas to cope with limited coffee supplies. This blend was incredibly bitter and laid the foundation for Cubans’ love of heavily sweetened, super dark roast coffee.

Despite the challenges they faced, the Cuban people’s appreciation for coffee remains strong, emphasizing the importance of coffee in their culture. It’s not just about the beans; it’s about community and the joy of coming together over coffee.

Growing up in a Cuban household, a large pot of coffee brewing on the stove often became the focal point of social gatherings and lengthy conversations. Coffee truly holds a special place in Cuban traditions and customs.

Embrace Cuban Coffee in Your Own Home

Although café Cubano originated from humble origins, it has gained global recognition and can be found in top cafés worldwide. Fortunately, you can also enjoy the wonders of Cuban coffee in the comfort of your own home. Following our simple step-by-step guide, you can create a delicious and satisfying cup of Cuban coffee that will delight your taste buds.

Cubans’ Unique Approach to Espresso: Using a Moka Pot

Why Cubans Prefer Moka Pots over Standard Espresso Machines

In Cuba, espresso preparation differs from what you may be accustomed to. Rather than using a standard espresso machine, Cubans opt for a Moka pot. This unique approach gives their coffee a distinct flavor and character. Let’s explore how you can recreate this Cuban experience at home.


Avoiding the Burnt Taste: The Proper Technique

Moka pots have gained a reputation for producing burnt-tasting coffee. However, with the proper technique, you can avoid this unpleasant flavor. To start, follow the manufacturer’s directions to fill the bottom of the Moka pot with water. Instead of cold water, use boiling water for a better result. Heat the pot over low-medium heat until you hear the characteristic gurgle. When you hear this sound, remove the pot from the heat to prevent over-cooking the coffee.

Pro Tip: The Forgiving Nature of Café Cubano

If you don’t have a Moka pot, don’t worry! You can still enjoy the flavors of Cuban coffee using other brewing methods. Strong coffee brewed with an AeroPress, French press, espresso machine, or coffee maker can be a great substitute. Additionally, if you know how to make Vietnamese coffee using a pan, it can be an excellent base for Cuban coffee.

Creating the Sweet Espuma

Espuma, also known as espumita, is the sugar foam that adds a sweet touch to Cuban coffee. To make it, whip coffee and sugar together until you achieve a frothy syrup-like consistency. Add one tablespoon of brewed coffee to a bowl containing ¼ cup of sugar. Vigorously beat the mixture until it becomes foamy. If it feels too dry, add a few more drops of coffee at a time. This step may require some trial and error to get it just right.

Pro Tip: Scaling the Recipe

If you’re brewing Cuban coffee for fewer people, you can use a smaller Moka pot and adjust the quantity of sugar accordingly. However, if you reduce the sugar too much, it may be challenging to whip effectively. Making at least two servings at a time is recommended for optimal results.

Completing the Cuban Coffee Experience

Once you have prepared the puma, it’s time to complete the Cuban coffee experience. Add the remaining coffee from the Moka pot to the bowl and gently stir it through the espuma. Divide the finished product into four small espresso cups and serve immediately.

Café Cubano: A Sweet Culinary Conclusion

In Cuba, the café Cubano is often enjoyed as a sweet finish to a meal, typically during lunch or dinner. It’s not a typical breakfast drink among Cubans, who prefer a traditional café con Leche—a Cuban espresso topped with steamed milk. This breakfast delight is often accompanied by hot buttered toast dipped in creamy coffee.

Brewing Cuban Coffee: No Fancy Equipment Required

One of the great things about brewing traditional Cuban coffee is that it requires no special equipment or expensive coffee beans. As it originated during Cuba’s isolation, the process is accessible to anyone with a Moka pot or other brewing methods mentioned earlier. The result is a sweet and creamy coffee that serves as a twist ending to any meal.

Try Cuban Coffee and Share Your Thoughts!

Brewing Cuban coffee is a fun and easy way to experience a unique espresso drink. If you try it, love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

FAQs – How to Make Cuban Coffee

What is a Cortadito?

A cortado is a Cuban espresso sweetened with sugar and topped with equal steamed milk. However, it’s important to note that sugar is not always added. This drink resembles a Cortado, a Spanish espresso topped with steamed milk and usually not sweetened.

Why is Cuban coffee served in small cups?

Cuban coffee: Strong and Sweet

Cuban coffee is renowned for its intensity and sweetness, much like espresso. It is served in small cups to prevent overwhelming the taste buds. Imagine sipping from a large mugful of this potent brew—it would be an explosion of flavors! The concentrated dose of sugar and caffeine would surely leave you buzzing. Therefore, to fully savor the rich flavors of Cuban coffee, it is best enjoyed in small, concentrated servings.

The Method of Turkish Coffee

Unlike Cuban coffee, Turkish coffee is not a specific type of coffee but a distinct brewing method. This ancient technique involves boiling excellent ground coffee in a traditional pot known as a cezve or ibrik. The intense brewing process produces robust and unfiltered coffee. Some variations of Turkish coffee also incorporate sugar, cardamom, or other spices to enhance the taste experience. What sets it apart is that Turkish coffee is typically served straight from the brewer without filtering.

Mexican Coffee: A Flavorful Delight

Mexican coffee, commonly known as café de olla, shares similarities with Cuban coffee in terms o, a starting brew of dark roast beans. However, what distinguishes Mexican coffee is the inclusion of piloncillo, an unrefined sugar commonly used in Mexico. This adds a unique and distinct flavor profile to the coffee. Additionally, cinnamon is often added for extra warmth and depth. Other spices, such as orange peel, are occasionally incorporated to enhance Mexican coffee’s complexity further.

If you’re craving a taste of these delightful coffee variations, why not try making them at home? Check out our recipe for Mexican coffee and indulge in a cup of rich and flavorful goodness.

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