Making something like café cubano

Let’s talk about my favorite hot coffee drink: the café cubano. I’ve talked a about coffee and I’ve shared some recipes, but I wanted to document the progress I’ve made in making my all-time favorite recipe. I’ll admit right now that my café cubano is not ‘real’ café cubano because I don’t actually make ‘real’ espresso at home nor do I use a moka pot—I don’t have a moka pot, but I’d like to get one at some point. My partner and I use an Aeropress. This is also not made for a demitasse cup because I like a me-sized drink of coffee, and I don’t have demitasse cups yet—I’d like to change that, though. Maybe I should call this café ameri-cubano… I feel like a fraud.

It took me a lot of trial and error in the beginning to get it just right. And the best part is that I starting making café cubano like this because I got it mixed up with the café con leche that I had at Taste of Havana in Indianapolis. Of course, I wouldn’t have figured it out without My Big Fat Cuban Family and MokaBees’ YouTube video. The real MVP is my partner who’s Puerto Rican and super into Cuban food—she’s the one who got me into all of this!

Also, since my post the other day, I have tried Brioso Coffee’s cubano. I was actually a bit disappointed. Like my own concoction, it was somewhere between a café cubano and a café con leche, but it didn’t quite meet either of those expectations. It wasn’t sweet at all—and the coffee was a bit overwhelmed by the half-and-half. I’ll stick to Pablo’s Havana Cafe. (But I will say that Brioso Coffee’s Chillin’ like a Villain was incredible—it was a nice mix of coffee and chai spices.)

Greyson’s AeroPress-for-two method (for café ameri-cubano)

I recently shared my “Greyson’s AeroPress-for-two method” method in another post, and I use it to make Café Bustelo for two. I said, realistically, if I use Café Bustelo (which I usually do), I use 4.5 scoops or 3 heaping scoops and about 23 cup of water. In particular, for café cubano, I only dilute out to 10:1 because I want it to be strong when mixed with the sugar.

  • 51 g of coffee to 155 g of water at 200 °F (3:1, diluted to 10:1)
  • 70 seconds of brewing time
    • In 10 seconds, saturate all grounds
    • After adding in all of the water, stir firmly
    • At 60 seconds, plunge for 30 seconds
    • Dilute with 385 g of water (for about two 8-oz servings)
    • Pour evenly over espuma mixture while stirring firmly

You can pour all of the coffee over all of the espuma/espumita mixture, but I find it easier to make two separate espuma mixtures at the bottom of two different mugs. Don’t worry—I’ll explain how to make the espuma mixture because that’s the most fun part!

Espuma mixture recipe

You want a 1:4 ratio of pre-diluted very hot coffee to (white or demerera/turbinado) sugar, and I usually use 1:4 teaspoons for a 8-oz serving of coffee. I usually just put this straight into the bottom of my mug (before I pour the coffee into the mug, of course) so I don’t have to do any extra steps like pouring into another mug.

  • 1 tsp of pre-diluted very hot coffee to 4 tsp of sugar (4:1)
  • A couple of minutes of putting your arm into it 
    • Whisk the mixture until it turns a light caramel color and you can see bubbles
    • Pour coffee evenly over espuma mixture while stirring firmly

You can stir it, but it’s easier to whisk it. I bought some small whisks for my partner, my best friend, and I to use just for this purpose. Then, because I could, I got a flat-bottom/bar whisk like this one on Amazon or this one on Amazon to help me get at the corners of my mug—if you can find one not on Amazon, then more power to you!

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