Cuban Style Coffee

Now that relations are improving with the island of Cuba it may be time to revisit Cuban style coffee. It turns out that Cuban coffee does not necessarily refer to coffee from Cuba but to the method of preparation.

Cuban coffee is strong espresso with a foamy layer of sugar laced with espresso across the top. Make the espresso as you normally would. Then put a forth of a cup of brown sugar in a glass mixing bowl and add a tablespoonful of hot espresso. Mix using a whisk until the mixture is foamy. Pour this over each cup of steaming hot espresso and enjoy your Cuban coffee, aka Café Cubano.

Our preference is organic Colombian coffee but if you can get your hand on beans from Cuba by all means try them out. Two old Cuban brands are Pilon and Bustelo. Both are dark roasted which can be important if you want to mimic the experience of original Cuban coffee.

How did café Cubano come to be? The Huffington Post explains in their article about making real Cuban style coffee.

If you order Cuban coffee out, it will often be made with an espresso machine, but you can easily make a good cup of it at home with a moka pot. Actually, that’s how a lot of Cubans do it themselves. The use of sugar to make the crema is said to have developed as a way to mimic the “heady crema of a cafe-bought espresso” without having to pay the price asked for at the cafes.

The sugar-laden espresso culture could also be a result of the quality of coffee rationed out to Cubans over the years. With the production of Cuban coffee on the decline since the 1960s, less was available on the market. So the government began to ration out 4 ounces of coffee a month to its citizens. And that small amount that was handed out was cut with ground chicharo bean, known as cafe con chicharo. It makes an earthy, bitter brew, which wholly welcomes sugar.

Think of chicory coffee used when coffee was rationed during the war years.

If you have visited New Orleans there is a good chance that you have tasted chicory coffee. What is chicory coffee? Chicory coffee contains the root of the chicory plant. Chicory grows wild in Europe and has adapted to North America and Australia. Roasted and ground chicory has a flavor similar to coffee so when coffee has been scarce chicory has been used as a substitute either entirely or in part.

The difference, of course, is that Chicory coffee is a blend of two ingredients while Cuban style coffee uses sugar to pep up the taste and imitate the crema on top of a good cup of espresso. We doubt, however, that Cuban style coffee will make it as far as espresso in space.

Last month, the Dragon spacecraft, built and operated by SpaceX, delivered the first-ever space espresso machine, built by Italian coffee company Lavazza and Italian aerospace firm Argotec, to the space station, along with special, zero-gravity cups. Prior to the coffee machine’s long-awaited arrival, the only option aboard the orbiting laboratory was powdered instant coffee. The cups, co-designed by International Space Station researcher Mark Weislogel and astronaut Don Pettit, are peculiarly shaped so that a sharp corner makes the liquid inside stream toward a person’s mouth when they drink from it.

So, earth-bound coffee lovers, try making Cuban style coffee at home and enjoy the sugary crema.

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