What is Cuban Coffee ? Let’s find out! It seems that there are endless varieties of coffee, enticing us to discover a new flavor profile for every region around the globe, prompting us to ask questions such as “What is Cuban coffee?”
The different flavors enamor me with such inquiries that make me think of the cultural infusions one steaming cup of the bitter bean could hold. Each drip of coffee has a story, and today, I will tell you the story of Cuban coffee.
Cuban coffee or Cuban espresso is a specialty coffee specifically originating in Cuba. Cuban coffee is more novel than the classics, yet it retains the flavor of coffee with its twists. When espresso machines from Italy came to Cuba, they gained traction. (source)
Let us witness the bitter yet sweet story of the Cuban espresso and seek to learn its cultural infusions, history, inception, and awakening. Let us get started.
Coffee With A Story: What Is Cuban Coffee?
The world of coffee is a bottomless pit: you may start with researching Lattes, Cappuccinos, and Americanos, which will escalate to you exploring more on Arabica and Robusta, the different types of coffee beans.
Since you are now reading this, I’m pretty confident that you are currently researching the colorful world of regional coffee, and Cuban coffee is an interesting one at that.
Unlike most coffee variants around the world like the classic Cafe Latte or the American favorite flat white, Cuban coffee, or the Cuban espresso, or the cafecito (yes, it has many names including Cuban pull and the Cuban shot), it is more recent.
This coffee variant had only taken rise when Italians brought espresso makers to the island nation, and since then, it has been blessed with an increase in popularity.
In fact, if you go out and dine in the streets of Miami and ask, “What is Cuban coffee?”, and stumble upon a local Cuban (Miami has a significant Cuban population), they will gladly give you a tour around the bustling Cuban cafes that are only continuously growing in numbers.
In this section of the article, let us talk about the story behind the cup of coffee. Its culture, its people, and its history. It is Cuban coffee.
Brewing Of The Past And The History Of Cuban Coffee
Although Cuban coffee is a more recent variation than its counterparts, Cubans were no strangers to the concoction.
In fact, as a territory of the great Spanish empire, Cuba was a hotspot for growing the caffeine bean for consumption of Spain, starting their business in times as early as the middle of the 1700s. This coffee culture even grew as French farmers fleeing from the French revolution started to grow coffee in Cuba as well.
Saying that Cubans were prolific coffee growers is an understatement. In fact, after over a hundred years since coffee was introduced as a crop, the bean has overlapped sugar as Cuba’s primary export. And fifty years before the new millennium, Cuba has started shipping out coffee beans as bountiful as 20,000 metric tonnes.
However, at this point, Cuban coffee was still at its infant stages, and despite Cuba being a prominent coffee exporting giant, it lacked something– a cup of coffee that they could truly call their own.
Ironically, it was people from another culture who brought that wish to fruition. And those people were the Italians, the coffee-loving, pasta-making people. They were a passionate bunch, and they helped Cuba create a cup of coffee that they could finally call their own. This, ladies and gentlemen was the birth of Cuban coffee.
What Is Cuban Coffee Known For? A Hyperbolic Taste Profile
As with any other coffee, Cuban coffee or the cafecito holds its flavor profile, influenced by the preferences of its originating culture. Let us take the United States as an example; we can see that the demand for aesthetic and sweet coffee is high, and as such, the United States is now the land of origin for the ever so grand Frappuccinos and the eye candy latte art.
Now, if you have tasted Cuban coffee before, it will not be surprising for you to know that one of the answers for “What is Cuban coffee?” will be “sweet coffee” because the Cuban espresso is precisely that: sweet.
If you prefer your coffee to taste as flat or not hyperbolic by any means, then I assure you that Cuban coffee will not be to your liking. As it is made from demerara sugar, Cuban coffee is undoubtedly for the sweet tooth.
One of the primary characteristics of Cuban coffee is that it is made in a Moka pot most of the time. If you have ever tried to make coffee in a Moka pot before, you will know that they are renowned for their extreme bitterness.
Cuban coffee is undoubtedly the coffee of extremes with its already sweet flavor profile: a sweet and bitter affair of coffee and sugar.
Cuban Coffee Flavor Profile
- Cuban coffee is sweet due to the amount of demerara sugar added in
- Cuban coffee is notoriously bitter (although it may differ depending on the Moka pot preparation)
Most coffee enthusiasts are fond of coffee bitterness, but not when the bitter flavor itself is overpowering. Below, we have inserted a video wherein you can watch how to make coffee from a Moka pot without an extremely bitter overall result. The video is from the tips of James Hoffman, a world barista champion.
How Is Cuban Coffee Made?
What is the process of making Cuban coffee processing? I get this question a lot of times, mainly whenever we discuss novel coffee variants. This section of the article discusses the Cuban espresso’s creation process, using a Moka pot.
Cuban coffee requires specific ingredients. Most ingredients are readily available; however, it may be best to brief the needed components. Below is a list of the ingredients to be used for cafecito.
Ingredients And Materials For Cafecito / Cuban Coffee:
- 16 grams of medium roast coffee beans
- Hot water
- A generous amount of demerara sugar
With that, it is also essential to make sure your cooking materials and ingredients are ready. Below is a list of things you need to prepare before making cafecito or Cuban coffee.
Preparing For Cuban Coffee
- Boil the water first
- Clean the Moka pot (make sure no residue is inside as most have residue)
- Ground your coffee but make sure that it is grounded coarsely. Especially when using a Moka pot, coarse grounds help check the bitterness of the result.
Making Cuban Coffee
Now that we have prepared everything, let us now get started on making the Cuban coffee itself. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to make Cuban coffee.
- Add the boiling water to the base of the Moka pot and fill the bottom of the Moka pot until the water reaches the valve.
- Put your coarsely ground coffee. Do not tamp it. Level the coffee grounds.
- Put on high heat. Watch out for when the first drops of coffee come out. When it does, grab it using a spoon.
- Make the azuquita. Using the demerara sugar and the coffee you just gathered, whisk the sugar and coffee in a pitcher (most preferably) until the desired consistency is achieved.
- Add the Moka pot coffee to the pitcher.
Below is a detailed and visual explanation of what I just said.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Cortadito?
The cortadito is a standard espresso shot of Cuban coffee with steamed milk. Think of it as Cuban Latte.
What Exactly Is The Azuquita?
It is the demerara sugar and the most robust first brewed Moka pot coffee mixed.
Is Moka Pot Coffee Espresso?
Not necessarily. Despite that, most Moka pot coffee is considered espresso coffee by arbitrary means.