November 24, 2015
To make Cuban coffee, or cafe, or cafecito, get yourself an inexpensive stovetop device that produces the coffee by passing boiling water, pressurized by steam, through the grounds. You might know it as a Moka Espresso maker, but any Cuban will tell you it’s a Cuban cafetera. It goes for around $29 and in Miami you can pick up an off-brand one at any grocery or drugstore for about $10. They come in three sizes - 3, 6 and 9 cup. I like using the smallest size because it makes 3 shots of coffee and who needs more than that in one serving? Unscrew the top and you’ll see three compartments.
- The base for the water
- The strainer for the espresso grounds
- The top, which collects the brewed espresso
You’ll also need a metal or glass container in which to create the sugary foam. I like using a Pyrex measuring cup, but any small cup will do.
The trickiest part of this recipe is creating the foam, which is the trademark of Cuban coffee. But don’t worry. If you mess up you’ll still have a great flavor, although maybe not as much froth.
1Pour water into the bottom compartment of the coffeemaker until just underneath the pressure valve.
2Fill the strainer with the grounds, level it with a spoon, place it inside the bottom compartment and wipe the rim.
3Screw on the top compartment. Place it over the flame. For now, leave the lid open so you can see when the coffee has started to brew.
4For the 3-cup size, scoop 3 spoonfuls of sugar into the glass container.
5When the coffee first emerges, remove from the flame and pour a few drops into the sugar, no more than about a teaspoon. (It’s important to use this first bit of coffee, known as the ink, to create the foam because it’s thicker than the rest.) Place the espresso maker back on the flame and close the lid.
6Now it’s time to make the froth. In the glass container, whisk the sugar and coffee mixture with a spoon until it forms a light-colored paste. Mix vigorously as this is one step you can never overdo.
7As soon as the coffee begins erupting again, (you will hear it coming up) turn off the heat and let it finish doing its job.
8When complete, pour the rest of the coffee into the glass container and stir until both the coffee and the sugary paste are completely blended. You will notice a thick foam has formed over the top. Pour it into individual espresso size cups, using a spoon to equally divide the foam. Now you’ve got your Cuban coffee!