The Siren Song of Cuban Coffee

Or, Why We Go Loco for Café Con Leche.
Dec 19 2012

Europeans, especially Italians, think they know the secret. So do Seattlites and Oregonians, with their hand-forged sippy-cups. But when it comes to coffee, Cubans have it nailed. What exactly is it about Cuban coffee—that sugary-sweet elixir that fuels South Florida? From the moment we touch down in Miami, to our final sprint to the boarding gate, Cortaditos, Coladas, Cafecito Cubanos and Cafe Con Leches call to us like sirens of the deep. Thankfully, we know exactly where to score.

“We get all walks of life in here—people going to work, people who are in the middle of their day or at siesta time who need a pick-me-up, and then the late-night partiers who are just going out,” says Adrian Gonzalez, of José Parlá’s installation, Cafécito Neptuno at The Standard Spa. He attributes the allure of Cuban coffee to the beans—roasted longer than European blends, but with less of the burnt aftertaste.

Typically, sugar is added to the cup first so that it caramelizes when the coffee is poured. Only then are steamed milk and foam added. “Cuban coffee has a level of sophistication to it and people like to approach it with time,” Gonzalez explains. “I typically have a Café Con Leche in the morning, a Cortadito (“small cut”) in the afternoon, and then later I’ll take a Colada, which is basically a double espresso you can share with someone else.”

But the allure of Cafécito Neptuno doesn’t end with caffeine. “Personally, I like to have my coffee with a guava and cheese pastry. It’s a double dessert to me, and just as delicious. Some people prefer something on the salty side—the Croquetas de Jamon, Papa Rellena or Media Noche—but not me. I’m just a sweeter-side kinda guy.”