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The Cuban espresso

Cuban espresso

With the weather once again taking a turn for the worse, the rain pouring down (the British Summer hasn’t got the memo) and it being generally very, very miserable, we have banded together to provide a recipe that will bring a little slice of the Caribbean to our grey isles.

So whether you’re in the coffee shop or at home, enjoy one of the best aspects of Cuban cuisine – Cuban Espresso (also known as a the Cafecito or Café Cubano, it goes by many names).

This variation of the espresso is a hallmark of social and cultural activity within Cuba and has spread to become a staple within areas of Miami, Tampa, Hudson County and other notable emigrant American Cuban communities.

No Cuban meal is complete without a signature sweet shot of espresso with the crema — which is created by foaming up sugar before serving – floating on top of the strong, dark coffee.

In order to get the authentic taste, we recommend that to make your Cuban Espresso you use the darker roasts that are more heavily favoured by Italian and Spanish roasters.

  • Put an amount of sugar – for every demitasse serving, use one teaspoon of sugar – into a container such as beaker or carafe. Demerara sugar is preferred to white sugar.
  • Brew the coffee as you would do for an espresso straight into the container so that it evenly covers the sugar.
  • Once it has finished brewing, stir it briskly as there will be an amount of undissolved sugar.
  • Whisk until it turns a beige colour – The mixture may seem dry at first, but work through this.

This will create a dark, intensely flavoured, yet sweet, brew of coffee. The heat from the coffee hydrolyzes the sucrose within the sugar, which leaves us with a slightly more viscous brew than if we were to add sugar afterward.

Whether to sip it or down it like a shot is up to personal taste, so whichever way you prefer is accepted. We recommend drinking down in one, as this is inherently sweeter than a traditional espresso, but still retains all of the flavours you are used to.

But traditionally, a Cuban espresso is served alongside a small glass of water.

An alternative, longer drink with a Cuban heritage is a Café con Leche (an equivalent to a café au lait) – simply add one shot of the Cuban espresso to a small cup of hot, steamed milk.