Coffee Talk

This Week in Coffee: Espresso Cubano

If even sweetness is what you are after, try a cubano.

By Jessica Voelker May 17, 2010

Not so long ago I found myself in front of the window at Monorail Espresso (between 5th and 6th on Pike), unsure of what to order. The gentleman behind that window, an older fellow with an air of dapper grace about him, interrupted my indecision with this question: "How about a Cubano?"

I probably would have said yes no matter what he suggested, he was a pretty winning chap altogether. But I remembered having enjoyed Cubanos in my early college days. I had enjoyed them in much the same way that I had enjoyed Jack Kerouac and Lou Reed, which is to say I had enjoyed them affectedly.

A Cubano is made like this: the barista fills the portafilter (the handle thingy) with enough espresso grounds for one shot, then adds a generous sprinkling of brown, unrefined sugar to the basket before making the shot (if you’re making at home, use about a teaspoon of sugar for every shot). So the espresso and sugar mix during brewing instead of after. The result is a subtle sweetness that’s quite a lot more pleasant than the one that results from a post-brew dissolution.

So basically, if you sweeten your espresso anyway—or if you’re a sugar eschewer who happens to find herself, from time to time, in the mood for something a little sweet—you might try a Cubano espresso. They taste good and your friends will think you’re cool when you order them. And by cool I mean pretentious. Happy Monday!

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