Saturday, April 18, 2009

How to make Cuban Coffee

Cafe Cubano: an intensely flavorful, sweet and delicious form of espresso. Can be served with by itself, mixed with steamed milk as Cafe con Leche, or served in equal parts with evaporated milk as a cortadito. Easy to find in New York or Miami, better made at home everywhere else.

While my mom was here last weekend, I recruited her help in writing this post. She's a great teacher and has a one of a kind technique for making beautiful espresso, dark and sweet with the perfect espumita, a thick layer of sugary foam. She gave me the play-by-play for perfect Cuban coffee everytime and I pass it on to you.

Ingredients and Equipment:
1. Cuban coffee maker: can be found at Latin Grocery stores or specialty kitchen shops. If you know someone in Miami have them mail you a $10 version from Navarro's.
2. Water, Cafe Pilon (in their trademark red and yellow packaging), white sugar
3. A sturdy carafe and spoon for frothing the sugar, preferably with a pour spout. I use a glass 2 cup measuring cup. A stove or hot plate. Gas or electric really doesn't make a difference.

Step 1: Open up the Coffee Maker and separate the colander (not pictured) from the base. Rinse the colander and set it aside. Fill the base with water up to the vent. The vent looks like a nail in the side of the base. Place the colander back on the base.

Step 2: Fill the colander with Cuban Coffee until it forms a mound as shown in the picture. The more coffee you pack into the colander the stronger the finished product. We like our coffee strong, but a loosely packed mound will produce great results every time.
Step 3: Screw the top of the Coffee Maker onto the base. It's important to make sure that you tighten the two halves as much as possible to avoid leakage on the stove.
Step 4: Add four tablespoons to a quarter cup of sugar to your mixing cup. This is a rough estimate and depends on how sweet you like your coffee as well as how much foam you would like to make. More sugar = more espumita!

Step 5: Place the Cuban coffee maker, top open, onto the stove over medium high to high heat. Now you will want to watch your coffee maker carefully as the first drip of coffee that comes out is absolutely crucial to making a good head of foam. So relax and be ready for the aroma of coffee which will give you a heads up. Step 6: As soon as you see that first drip, pour it into the sugar and move the Coffee Maker off of the heat. This will give you time to start stirring.

Step 7: As soon as that first drip is worked into the sugar you will have a mixture the consistency of wet sand. Now you can put the Coffee Maker back onto the stove with the top down. You will also want to lower the heat a tad so you don't burn and scorch the coffee. As the coffee continues to percolate add a little at a time, frothing the sugar as you go. This is the part that takes skill, patience, and finess. (I'm still working on it!) As you mix keep pressing the sugar against the sides of the measuring cup and it will get lighter and lighter in color.
Once you get the sugar to the color and consistency of a Wendy's frosty, you are ready to add in the rest of the coffee.

Step 8: Pour in the remainder of the coffee slowly stirring it into the frothed sugar to help it incorporate. After about 5-8 stirs, set it on the table and let it rest for about 60 seconds. The sugary froth will begin to separate from the coffee like the head on a well poured glass of Guiness.

Voila, espumita! Once you reach this point, you are ready to spoon and serve. Espresso cups are great and really cute, but if you don't have these (yet!) grab some shot glasses and get ready for a burst of flavor and energy.


JCreinhardt said...

That is beautiful! I want to try making it like that. Can you do it with any brand of coffee grounds?

Arroz con Mango said...

It needs to be made with an espresso grind, not a coffee maker grind, but you can probably use any brand you like. Also, a friend of mine just bought the Cuban coffee maker at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. :)

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Mutuelle sante said...

Thanks a ton it has been a wonderful help, now to make cuban coffee is without a doubt simple with the help of your recommendation. Thanks