When you think about Cuba, the first set of images your brain conjures are cigars, antique cars, cartoon houses, and flamboyant clothes. Ironically, its poverty-stricken streets are laced with a rich, beautiful culture. And that is what makes the country unique.
But how did coffee find its way into the picture? How did the locals brew it before any espresso machine came into existence? Well, let’s just say that Cuban coffee is the history of the nation in a cup.
It is popular for its sweet taste. Traditionally, sugar is mixed with the fine, dark roasted grounds before brewing and it is served like espresso. It is also known as Cuban pull, Cafecito, or Cuban shot. It is taken mostly in the morning and serves as a food accompaniment.
In Cuba, meals are incomplete without a shot. Also, in other areas like Tampa, Miami, and Florida Keys, drinking coffee during work beaks is a tradition. Similarly, foreigners from Europe and America have adopted the practice. So, if you’re a coffee lover, you don’t want to miss Cafecito on your next trip to Cuba.
Types of Cuban Coffee
Before you go looking for the best coffee from Cuba, let’s outline the types you can find there.
1. Café Cubano or Cafecito
This is the favorite for many people, and it is the traditional drink in the country. The locals brew it using ordinary dark roast beans and a lot of sugar to sweeten it. Also, it is two times stronger than the American coffee. The unique aspect of Cafecito is in its drinking; it is served in small cups.
This drink is for people who love to share their café with friends. It is the bigger cup of Cafecito. But it comes with small cups for your guests.
3. Café Con Leche
This is a Cafecito that is served with steamed milk in a different cup. The milk is usually hot, so it does not alter the temperature of the brew when you mix it with the espresso.
This is a Cafecito that is mixed with steamed milk to your desired measurement.
What Makes Cafecito Unique?
People who have had Cuban shot usually rave about it. But why is this so? Its uniqueness lies in the strong taste and distinctive dark appearance. The difference between this type and other types around the world is the addition of a raw variety of sugar known as demerara brown sugar.
This sugar makes the drink slightly thicker. It is not added when the drink is served. Instead, the sugar is mixed with the grounds during preparation. At first, it is whisked or beaten thoroughly together with a small amount of espresso.
After that, it is mixed with the coffee. This mixture produces a fine crema layer, and this is what defines coffee in Cuba. Also, it is grown with organic soil contents without adding artificial fertilizers. You may want to visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_espresso to read more about Cafecito.
How to Make Cafecito with an Espresso Machine
Although Cuba is a traditional place, sometimes we do not have ample time to respect those traditions. However, if you have an espresso maker, let’s show you how to brew Cafecito.
You need the following:
- Medium or dark roast beans (as desired)
- Sugar (I tablespoon per cup)
- Water (the machine may dispense this)
- Coffee pitcher
- Espresso machine
- Prepare the beans by grinding them. The machine may have an inbuilt grinding mechanism. But if this is not the case, you can grind them in a grinder or buy Cuban grounds. Pour the grounds into a filter basket.
- Add as much sugar as you prefer in the pitcher. This depends on the sweetness and frothiness you want the drink to have.
- Let the brewed drink mix with the sugar in the pitcher. Stir the mixture with a steaming wand. This will mix the sugar and coffee. Pull up the wand slowly to create a froth.
You may also want to watch this video to see how to make Cuban shot.
Coffee from Cuba is a traditional way to enjoy caffeine while reminiscing on the history of the country. The taste is different from other beverages because of the amount of sugar it contains and the way it is prepared. So, when next you visit Cuba, ensure you try the different types of Cuban coffee.