Who doesn’t love Cuban coffee? If you’ve never had it, I suggest you give it a try. If you’re ever in Miami, make sure to plan on trying it at a Cuban restaurant! Preferably one that has a window where they serve the coffee from. It’s life changing! The Cortadito is basically a Cuban coffee that is “cortado,” meaning “cut” with milk and a dollop of delicious froth!
My husband and son took me to a Cuban restaurant that…get this…is part of a gas station. It’s not a fast food place, like what you’ll find at rest stops along the highway, where there might be a pizzeria or doughnut place attached to the gas station; this is a full service, full fledged restaurant! And, the food is amazing! I was skeptical, but after my meal, I was impressed. They serve a Cortadito with cinnamon on top. So, I decided to take it one step further and add shavings of Ghirardelli dark chocolate. So, so good!!!
What you’ll need to try this at home is: (and I suggest everyone should because once you do, you’ll be addicted)
- A Cuban coffee or espresso maker. You can use a stove top style, which is called a Moka Pot. Even though there are a variety of electric espresso makers available, for me the stove top method is the best. You can use the proper Cuban coffee with this method and honestly, it just tastes better; trust me, I’ve tried both many, many times! If you do not own a Moka Pot, thankfully there is such a thing in 2018 as Amazon Prime!!! Order one, you will be so happy!!! : ) They come in a variety of styles and sizes. I own a little 3 cup size and a larger 6 cups size made for induction stoves, Bialetti brand.
- You’ll need a measuring cup. I use a stainless steel, 8 oz. pitcher, but you can use a glass measuring cup. I like to cream the sugar (we call this “espumita” in Spanish; basically …foam), so beating the sugar in a glass container can done, but be aware that your container may get scratched up with the spoon.
- You’ll need a milk frother. I’ve had a Nespresso brand frother for years now, and it works great! What a great little investment…they’re not cheap, but worth every penny. I use mine sometimes to make cappuccino. It makes perfect froth and heats the milk too! You can also use a battery operated frothing wand. You’ll just have to heat the milk on the stove or in the microwave before hand.
- Also, a Microplane spice grater. This is perfect for grating the chocolate!
- You will also need demi cups. Three ounce size is perfect.
- Sugar, ground Cuban coffee (Bustelo or Pilon are popular brands; which are also available in decaf…but what’s the point of that?), milk, one square of dark Ghirardelli chocolate (you can use whatever brand you like; I just love Ghirardelli). And, last but not least, cinnamon.
I have listed these instructions on how to make Cuban coffee, however, there are a million and one videos on Youtube.com to guide you along. Be warned, some of these videos are more like a comedy act than instructional, but they’re entertaining, I must say! Also, some of them will ask you to add water in the top of the Moka Pot to weaken the coffee. Don’t do this! The whole point of Cuban coffee is for it to be strong.
- I like to add about 1 teaspoon of sugar per serving, sometimes 1 1/4. It’s not too scientific, it just depends on how sweet you like your coffee. Some of these videos or other recipes for Cuban coffee will ask you to use 1 tablespoon per 1 – 2 demi cups, that’s way too much! It’s not necessary. If you want it sweeter you can add more, but honestly, about 1 is enough.
- I use 6 teaspoons of sugar, which I add to my 8 oz. metal pitcher. Add water to the base of your Moka Pot, just to the pressure valve that can also be seen from the inside. Place the basket in; it will sit just at the rim of the base. Add Cuban coffee (I’ve tried using Espresso…it’s not the same, you need the real thing). Using a teaspoon, place the coffee in the basket and press it down as you go, until it reaches the rim, making sure that it’s packed in well. Screw the top on and place it on the stove, set on medium/high or high heat depending on what kind of stove you have. I have an inductions stove and it heats up very quickly! So for this type of stove, high it too much.
- While the coffee maker is heating up, add the sugar to the pitcher and wait. Once it starts to brew and you see at least 1 or 2 teaspoons of coffee at the base of the coffee maker, you will remove the coffee maker from the stove and using a teaspoon, measure 1 or 2 tsp of coffee and add it to the sugar. This first little bit of coffee is the strongest and is full bodied so it helps to get a good creamy froth. A lot of the instruction videos you’ll see, just ask you to pour the coffee into the sugar, but by measuring with a spoon, it’s fool proof. If I’m using my small 3 cup Moka Pot I use 1 tsp of coffee to about 3 1/2 tsp of sugar to make the “espumita.” If I’m using my larger 6 cup pot, I pour 2 tsp into 6 tsp of sugar.
- Place the coffee maker back on the stove and while it continues to brew, you can proceed to whip the sugar with a spoon. Put some muscle into it! The creamier it is, the more “espumita” your coffee will have! It makes a good top to hold the milk froth for your Cortadito! A lot of Cubans have their regular Cuban coffee with “espumita,” but they don’t do it for Cortadito. I like to go that extra step.
- While your coffee is brewing and you’ve already frothed the sugar, you can heat your milk. If you have the electric frother, add the about 3 oz. of milk or if it has a “fill to line” use that as a guide and just turn it on. If you’ll be using a battery operated frothing wand, you will want to heat the milk in a small pot on the stove or in the microwave and then froth it up so you get a nice fine and smooth layer, but also a little bit of milk.
- Once you’re coffee is brewed, add it to your creamed sugar in the metal pitcher. Stir it gently to blend the sugar. You will notice the top becomes light and frothy! for the Cortadito, fill your demi cup 2/3 of the way up with coffee. Then pour, using a spoon to keep the froth from pouring out first, just a little bit of milk into the cup; maybe about 1 tsp. Using your spoon, place a dollop or two of froth onto the surface. Use the Microplaner, shave the chocolate onto the froth and give it a dusting of cinnamon.