Cuban coffee is one of those things that is either atrocious or amazing. The process is rather complicated to execute, and if not done properly, it can result in a disastrous offering. (I say this from experience, and from other people’s cringe faces). But when it is good, oh is it good.
The desired outcome is espresso so sweet it’s almost like syrup, and so intense it gives you a swift jolt that makes you shudder lightly. The clincher is the development of foam on top, or espuma, because without that it’s just sweet espresso, and who wants that? It’s just not the same.
What’s ironic is that with all of the complications I put myself through in the kitchen, which usually lead to success from hard work, I simply cannot make a good cup of Cuban coffee. Thankfully, I know someone that makes it better than anyone in the world. And I’m often lucky enough to share in moments of perfect drinkability.
Since this recipe is more of a visual process, I thought it would be good to offer step by step photos instead of a written out recipe. I’m assuming you know how to make espresso. Also, in making this, make sure you have some sort of espresso making device and good, ground espresso. We like either Pilon or Bustelo, which can be found at all supermarkets. Either a stove top espresso maker or an electric machine work beautifully.
Sugar amounts can vary on the amount of espresso you are making. We usually go for a heaping teaspoon of sugar per 1/4 cup of brewed coffee. You can start out with a lesser amount of sugar if you want, and then add more to taste later. If you add too much at the beginning, you’ve reached the point of no return. It’s important to be careful here.
Get your espresso brewing in your espresso making device. Fill up the brewer with the ground espresso and add your water.
Set aside a cup with all of the sugar you want and a spoon.
Start brewing your espresso.
Once the first few drops of espresso starts brewing, quickly catch them with a spoon and add them to your sugar. (If you are using a stovetop espresso maker, just pour in the first few drops into your sugar once you start to hear it brew.)
Stir the droplets and sugar together very very vigorously while the rest of the coffee brews. This is a crucial step and where your espuma will develop.
You want your sugar and coffee mixture to look like this. Delicious looking, right?
Once it does, and the rest of the coffee brews, add it all to the sugar mixture and stir to dissolve.
Do you have your espuma? I hope you do.
See, isn’t that easy? Now you can have your Cuban coffee morning, noon, and night.