Cuban coffee is sweet, rich, and delicious. Traditionally, it’s served after dinner, and there’s no need for dessert when you’re sharing this beverage with family and friends. It requires a special technique that creates shots of espresso with a thick layer of foamy crema on top. Unlike other espresso drinks, the crema is created with sugar, not milk, and you don’t need to have an expensive espresso machine in the kitchen to make it.
To make Cuban coffee, a 6-cup or 9-cup stovetop espresso maker or moka pot work best. Brewing the coffee is easy and fine-ground Cuban coffee makes it authentic. Freshly ground coffee beans work just as well. There are a couple of tricks to transforming sugar into the perfect crema and it does take practice. First, watch the pot and use the first tablespoon or so of coffee that’s brewed. It’s concentrated and almost like coffee sludge, ideal for whisking with sugar to create the thick paste known as espuma (or espumita). To get the desired consistency you need to whip the mix for a couple of minutes. It takes patience and muscle, but the resulting coffee is worth it.