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Cuban coffee


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13 replies to this topic

#1 foodie52

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 01:56 PM

Just came back from visiting Tampa. While we were there, we ate at the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City. The coffee in the restaurant was excellent. I'm wondering what makes it so good ( apart from the fact that the roaster was across the street.)

Can anyone tell me more about it?

#2 phaelon56

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 09:40 AM

The most significant factors were probably the fact that the beans were of good quality, recently roasted, freshly ground and properly prepared. These factors alone (or should I say the lack of many of them) are what account for so much mediocre coffee being served in many restaurants.

I'd be curious to know how they're preparing it - some Caribbean countries use the method whereby coffee is finely ground, steepd in water that's just off the boil and then poured through a cloth filter. Coffee prepared in thsi fashipn can be excelent - some of the best I've ever had. Here's in the northeast, the Spanish restaurants (Cuban or otherwise) often use an espresso machine to make a lungo (long draw) with finely ground dark roast coffee. It's basically a tall espresso style coffee. Even the places using a cheap and ubiquitous brand like Bustelo often turn out a cafe con leche that's better than any Starbucks latte.

The item that is not routinely available in the US but is said to be of excelent quality is real Cuban beans - those grown in Cuba. has anyone here tried them?

#3 fredbram

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:44 AM

One of the few good coffees available in Denver coffee bars is the cuban cafe con leche at Sweet Rockin' Coffee. I am not sure what coffee they use, but they use an espresso machine and, if you want, put a little sugar on top of the coffee before it goes into the machine. The sugar gets a bit caramelized by the heat of the espresso machine and gives it a uniqueness that I like.
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#4 phaelon56

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:56 AM

they use an espresso machine and, if you want, put a little sugar on top of the coffee before it goes into the machine. The sugar gets a bit caramelized by the heat of the espresso machine and gives it a uniqueness that I like.


I keep forgetting to do this when making espresso at home. It's a neat trick and works really well - it is distinctly different than just adding sugar afterwards and works really well. One of the many places where I skip espresso drinks and go straight for the cafe con leche (in addition to NYC) is the Miami area. NOt only is it usually better, it typically costs 1/3 to 1/2 as much at most.

#5 Squeat Mungry

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 12:05 PM

The item that is not routinely available in the US but is said to be of excelent quality is real Cuban beans - those grown in Cuba. has anyone here tried them?

Some of the best coffee I've ever tasted was the stuff I had in Cuba. Particularly memorable was the extremely dark brew at the Hotel Nacional. Delicious, rich and aromatic with a very fresh taste. Unfortunately, I didn't think to ask them about where it was grown or roasted, or how it was made.

#6 foodie52

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 03:00 PM

It was a cafe con leche. I didn't taste any sweetness to it, but I briefly wondered if they had used condensed milk , as in Vietnamese coffee because it was so rich-tasting.

#7 phaelon56

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 03:12 PM

I found some Cuban Peaberry at a Vancouver BC roaster. Unfortunately it's not available in the US legally due to the embargo (don't get me started on THAT!).

Peaberry coffee (which refers to the small round bean type) is generally a high grade regardless of origin. I suspect that the delicious coffee you had may have been this. Coffee is also grown in the Guantanemo region but I think it's of a lower quality (most likely in part due to lower altitude).

This coffee is grown on small, worker-organized cooperative farms using traditional, shade-growing techniques on the slopes of the Sierra Maestra mountain range in Eastern Cuba.

This coffee has a rich, chocolatey, nutty flavour with a heavy body and a sweet, smooth aftertaste. It is roasted medium-dark, giving it added sweetness and aroma. It is an excellent coffee for any time of the day.



#8 Gr8Waiter

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 10:59 AM

one thing that I have noticed in many of the places where I get cafe con leche is that the leche is usually sitting in a bunn pot on a warmer and already has a signifcant amount of sugar added to it. this procedure is similar to the making of 'sweet tea'. at home in addtion to adding a bit of sugar to the top of the espresso I also heat the sugar and milk in a pot or in the microwave prior to adding the cafe'. seems to work just dandy as many have complimented me on my cafe' service.

just a thought.

#9 chado

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 11:56 AM

I am currently tearing into a pound of Cubita Coffee (Cuban) at home, it is the same brand that is used at the Hotel Nacional, and has an incredible flavor. What surprises me most is the lack of bitterness I taste in such a strong, dark roast.

I have yet to open the pound of Turquino, another Cuban brand, waiting patiently in my cupboard, but my taste buds are looking forward to it! :smile:

Fortunately for me my wife prefers Jamaican Blue Mountain, so I get to hoard the Cuban coffee all to myself! :wink:
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#10 phaelon56

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 12:30 PM

Fortunately for me my wife prefers Jamaican Blue Mountain, so I get to hoard the Cuban coffee all to myself! 


I'll just pray that should I ever have a woman in the house with me full time (wife or otherwise), our differences should be so mutually beneficial!

#11 chado

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 02:01 PM

I'll just pray that should I ever have a woman in the house with me full time (wife or otherwise), our differences should be so mutually beneficial


:biggrin:

Yes, I am a huge fan of JBM as well! I still like to play the, "Fine, honey, since you like this coffee better, I guess I can handle it" card though... :raz:
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#12 phaelon56

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 07:06 AM

Had to chuckle when I saw a character name with an obscure coffee reference in a movie last night. We were watchi "The Shipping News" Kevin Spacey. His aunt/mother is played by (I think) Judith Anderson. She hires an assistant for her upholstery business, who is iontroduced as "Mavis Banks". Mavis Banks is the most famous and generally considered to be the most reliable of all the coffee plantations in Jamaica's Blue Mountain region.

#13 richw

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 07:58 AM

Almost all if not all of the cafeterias and Cuban restaurants in South Florida don't use any really good coffee beans. Most of them use the big mainstream brands, which are pretty inexpensive such as Pilon or Bustelo. It would be nice to have a cafeteria that actually uses freshly roasted beans. And yes I agree, Cuban coffee is probably one of the best bargains in South Florida.
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#14 richw

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 08:05 AM

one thing that I have noticed in many of the places where I get cafe con leche is that the leche is usually sitting in a bunn pot on a warmer and already has a signifcant amount of sugar added to it.  this procedure is similar to the making of 'sweet tea'.  at home in addtion to adding a bit of sugar to the top of the espresso I also heat the sugar and milk in a pot or in the microwave prior to adding the cafe'.  seems to work just dandy as many have complimented me on my cafe' service.

just a thought.

I also notice that many latin places pre-brew espresso and let it sit for hours. Around me they usually re-heat it by steaming it with the milk(that is almost always sitting out at room temp - Foodservice violation) when making cafe con leche.

I don’t care for sugar in my coffee so I ask for it without. It seems to be the only way to get one freshly made since they pre-sweeten everything.
South Florida