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Cuban cafecito and cafe con leche are absolutely glorious. They are equal parts strong and sweet, making them irresistible. With the right tools and a little practice, you’ll be making them like a pro.
But first, I want to explain how cafe is essential to my family. To us, coffee is more than just a means to an end. It is a tradition that is respected and cared for. One day I will teach my kids how to make this, just as my Grandma showed me. There was a time when I was growing up that I would spend my mornings with her before I headed to school. Without fail, I knew she would always have cafe con leche and pan con matequilla (toast with butter) waiting for me. It was a simple gesture that meant so much more.
Enough of the memory lane…back to the recipe!
Here are some key tips for this recipe:
- Make sure that you’re using a espresso maker that can be used on a stove-top. This is non-negotiable.
- You will want to use a cuban style ground espresso coffee. I prefer to use La Llave, however Pilon or Bustelo will work as well.
- Espumita: the secret to this coffee is the espumita, or the froth that is created by whipping the first bit of coffee with sugar.
- Make sure that you are using the very first bit of coffee that bubbles up.
- Less is more; add only a small amount of the coffee to the sugar. Your whole goal here is to aerate the sugar until it looks light in color (pictured below).
- Want to know the difference between cafecito and cafe con leche? The addition of milk. Add as little or as much as you’d like, depending on how strong you like your coffee.
For us, cuban cafecito and cafe con leche is always available to be shared with love among those gathered around the table. I hope this recipe will bring you as much joy as it brings my family. Enjoy 🙂
Cuban Cafecito and Cafe Con Leche
- Stove-top Percolator
- 1 Cup Glass Measuring Cup
- Small Heat Proof spatula
- Espresso Coffee Preferably La Llave, Pilon or Bustelo
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 1 Cup Milk warmed, optional
- With the percolator disassembled, fill the bottom with water up to the valve. Insert the basket to the bottom and make sure there is no water is seeping through.
- Evenly fill up the basket to the brim with coffee. Add lid and tighten.
- Heat the percolator on the stove over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, fill a liquid measuring cup with sugar.
- Once the first bit of coffee starts to brew, add about a teaspoon or two to the sugar. Stir the mixture vigorously until is it light in color and about doubled in volume.
- Pour the remaining coffee into the sugar mixture and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Serve as is for cafecito or with warmed milk for cafe con leche.