How to make Cuban Coffee or "Cafe Cubano"
I have had the pleasure of tasting amazing coffee all over this country and abroad while traveling for Warped, but nothing compares a Café Cubano made down in Little Havana. Across the street from El Titan de Bronze on the corner of 8th & 11th is a walk up window that produces the best Café Cubano I have ever had. This amazing mixture of espresso and sugar is addicting and keeps you going for those long days in the factory while blending and checking production.
Each and every trip I make down to El Titan de Bronze, one of my first acts is to go across the street to this walk up window and get a Café Colada which is served with 4-6 plastic demi "shot" cups. The purposes of these plastic demi shot cups is to serve your friends/co workers with this amazing elixir. It's a common custom down in Miami, and whether it is the rollers at the factory or visiting friends to the factory, you are always offered a shot.
After enough trips down to Miami and not being able to find anything near close enough to this where our headquarters are located, I took it upon myself to master this craft. Well lets distill this down as quickly as possible...making Café Cubano is not easy... to get it right, it took me 1.5 years (yes, 1.5 years, I am not joking) to get it to the point where the team at HQ said it was 97% to what we get in Little Havana. You always see photos on Instagram of the coffee, so let me show you how I make it.
The recipe below will produce 4-6 shots of Café Cubano.
Here we go!
What you will need:
Ground espresso of your choice (Pilon for us as of right now)
Plastic demi shot glasses (you will be sharing this, remember that!)
Step 1: Fill your portafilter with coffee and give a light tamp (if you're using a pressurized portafilter), if you have a non pressurized you will need your normal amount of force for tamping.
Step 2: This is probably your most important aspect! Measurement of sugar...too much will make it way to sweet and too little will provide you with a lightly sugared espresso. I use 1.5 spoons of Domino sugar. To be more detailed, 1 rounded full spoon and then a straight half spoonful. Put your sugar into (1) of your (2) pitchers.
Step 3: Okay lets brew some Pilon. So with your empty pitcher, brew about 1/4-1/3 of the pitcher with a full portafilter. If you brew longer and more, they espresso becomes way too bitter (this is one of the things I learned the hard way). If you start seeing foam build up in your pitcher, dump it out, and try again. With a pressurized portafilter you're looking at 10-12 seconds of brew time before shutting the brew off.
Step 4: Ah...another very important aspect of Café Cubano that separates it from the rest. Instead of just totally dumping your espresso into the pitcher with the sugar, you pour a very tiny amount into the sugar pitcher. This is extremely important for the next step.
Step 5: With your spoon you will begin mixing together the sugar and small amount of espresso until it becomes a thick delicious paste of straight sugar and coffee. If you are mixing and you do not have a paste, take your spoon and lightly add some additional coffee to create the consistency of paste...yes I'm serious.
Step 6: Don't worry, we are almost there! So now the rest here is simple. After you have created your paste mixture (as seen above), you will pour the remaining coffee into your sugar paste pitcher.
Step 7: Once you have poured all of your coffee into the paste pitcher, start mixing to melt that paste. This will create the signature 'crema' or thick topping Café Cubano is known for.
Step 8: Start pouring for friends
Step 9: Look at that, you are all done!
Step 10: Now enjoy! And sorry that I have forever ruined your preference on coffee.