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Cafe Cubano Primer

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Cafe Cubano Primer
While many of us are comfortable walking into a Starbucks and ordering a venti non-fat half-caf hazelnut latte, the Cuban coffee drinks popular in Miami may still be intimidating. Here is a primer for translating the drink names as well as some customs for drinking them.

Most Cuban restaurants have walk-up windows out front which offer coffee and some appetizers. Drinking coffee here is meant to be a social event, often a ritual to share with friends and family. Don’t be surprised if the person next to you strikes up a conversation while you are waiting for your order; this is all part of the ritual. By taking part in this warm Cuban tradition, you are opening up yourself to learn even more about the culture. The price is usually extremely reasonable, with a Cuuban Coffee often being only fifty cents.

    cafecito or Café Cubano : Cuban-style espresso. Served in a small espresso cup, it is very strong and very sweet. Whether to sip it or down it like a shot is up to personal taste, so whichever way you prefer is accepted.
    espumita : The first few drips of cafecito are dripped into a pot with a few teaspoons of sugar. The person making the cafecito will whip this mixture into a sweet foam for the top of the drink. This foam is called espumita.
    colada : Being a social drink, cafecito can be ordered ready to share with friends. Order a colada and your drink will come in a large cup with a lid along with plastic espresso cups. After lunch, you will see stores and businesses all over Miami with shots of cafecito being passed around. Take a colada back to your office, and you will be surprised at the number of friends you have!
    cortadito : Cafecito with mild added. Each place you go uses a different ratio, so there really is no standard. Some places use only a few tablespoons of milk while others use half milk and half cafecito. Either way, it’s a great way to try Café Cubano for the first time to get the taste of it.
    Café con Leche (coffee with milk) : Similar to a latte. You are served a cup of hot milk and a shot of Café Cubano in a separate cup. Just dump the coffee into the milk when you are ready for it. You usually won’t need sugar, since to cafecito is sweetened already.
Any way you drink it, Café Cubano is about twice a strong as American coffee, so be careful drinking it as an after-dinner drink. Once you get hooked on the taste of it, you’ll wonder where to coffee is in your old drinks!
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