recipe

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!

Playing with New Orleans cold brew and iced coffee

Here are a few more coffee recipes. These deal with making my favorite cold coffee drink: a New Orleans iced coffee. The important thing is that you need a coffee blend with chicory in it, or, of course, you can get a dark roast coffee and add chicory to it.

Blue Bottle’s New Orleans cold brew method

Paraphrased from their site.

  • 368 g of coffee to 2000 g of water at room temperature (5:1)
  • 12 hours of brewing time
    • Steep for 12 hours
    • Add 4 tbsp of simple syrup
    • Serve 1:1 (whole) milk to cold brew

NYT’s New Orleans cold brew method

Paraphrased from their site.

  • 454 g of coffee to 2366 g of water at room temperature (5:1)
  • 12 hours of brewing time
    • Steep for 12 hours
    • Serve 3–4:1 milk to cold brew

Crimson Cup’s New Orleans iced coffee (cold brew) method

Straight from the mouth of a very kind manager at Crimson Cup. The recipe is, that is. Well, I mean, it is paraphrased, obviously. Anyway, I had to ask because the New Orleans iced coffee at Crimson Cup is delicious, which is exactly why I got into trying to replicate it.

  • 5 lb of coffee to 5 gallons of water (8:1)
  • 24 hours of brewing time
    • Steep for 24 hours
    • Add a splash of simple syrup and half-and-half to a 12-oz serving
    • Pour over ice to make a 16-oz drink

Greyson’s New Orleans iced coffee Aeropress method

The best way I’ve found to get a quick fix when I forget to make cold brew.

  • 35 g of coffee to 175 g of water at 200 °F (5:1, diluted by ice to ~8:1)
  • 150 seconds of brewing time
    • In 10 seconds, saturate all grounds
    • After adding in all of the water, stir firmly
    • At 120 seconds, plunge for 30 seconds
    • Add 1 tbsp of simple syrup
    • Pour over ~170 g of ice, which should melt a lot
    • Add 1 tbsp of half-and-half

My collection of coffee recipes

I’ve collected more than a few coffee recipes. Six of these recipes are for the Aeropress, and one recipe is for a French press or a Clever Coffee Dripper. Regarding the Aeropress, I always use the inverted method, and I always use a metal mesh filter—metal filters will let oils through, resulting in a fuller and more syrupy coffee, and paper filters result in a brighter and cleaner cup.

I do not mistake myself for a coffee connoisseur. I know only just enough about coffee to know that I hardly know anything at all. I do, however, consider myself a well-meaning coffee enthusiast and budding café hobbyist! Don’t worry—I’m not planning on telling you my life story. No pictures to get in your way either. Just take a look at some good recipes!

(But I do recommend the Coffee Compass—it’s a really neat graphic!)

Stumptown’s AeroPress method

A popular method that I am paraphrasing from their site.

  • 17 g of coffee to 220 g of water at 205 °F (13:1)
  • 75 seconds of brewing time
    • In 10 seconds, saturate all grounds
    • After adding all of the water, stir a bit
    • At 75 seconds, plunge

Blue Bottle’s AeroPress method

A popular method that I am paraphrasing from their site, and they also make New Orleans cold brew that’s supposed to be really good.

  • 15–18 g of coffee to 200 g of water at 200 °F (11–13:1)
  • 60 seconds of brewing time
    • Add 30–36 g of water, stir gently
    • At 30 seconds, add the remaining water
    • At 60 seconds, stir 10 times
    • Plunge

Brioso Coffee’s AeroPress method

Brioso Coffee is a local (Columbus, OH) coffee shop that’s supposed to have a great café cubano—a drink that I love—, but I haven’t been there yet. Recipe paraphrased from here.

  • 11.5 g of coffee to 180 g of water at 200 °F (16:1)
  • 130 seconds of brewing time
    • Add all of the water
    • Stir for 10 seconds
    • Steep for 60 seconds
    • Plunge for 60 seconds

Boston Stoker’s AeroPress method

Boston Stoker is a local (Columbus, OH) coffee shop with a great breakfast sandwich. Their coffee is good too, of course. Recipe paraphrased from here.

  • 20 g of coffee to 230 g of water at 203 °F (12:1)
  • 180 seconds of brewing time
    • Add 30 g of water, and stir
    • Add remaining 200 g of water
    • Steep for 180 seconds
    • Plunge

Crimson Cup’s AeroPress method

Crimson Cup is a local (Columbus, OH) coffee shop with a great New Orleans iced coffee and a great spirit. Recipe paraphrased from here.

  • 17 g of coffee to 220 g of water at 199 °F (13:1)
  • 120 seconds of brewing time
    • Bloom with 30 g of water for 25 seconds
    • Add the remaining 190 g of water
    • At 45 seconds, stir
    • At 85 seconds, stir again
    • At 90 seconds, plunge for 30 seconds

Greyson’s AeroPress-for-two method

This is what I’ve been doing for months now at this point.

  • 51 g of coffee to 155 g of water at 200 °F (3:1, diluted to 10–13:1)
  • 150 seconds of brewing time
    • In 10 seconds, saturate all grounds
    • After adding in all of the water, stir firmly
    • At 120 seconds, plunge for 30 seconds
    • Dilute with 385–505 g of water (for about two 8–11-oz mugs)