"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2018 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at EspressoMyEspresso@gmail.com
Café Cubano - Making Cuban Coffee
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
all text and photos ©2018 - All rights reserved
| Let's start our 14th year with something new! We recently discovered the Norman Lear resurrection of his television series, “One Day at a Time.” While the original was mostly the usual TV sitcom offering of the period, this has been a good mix of comedy, family unity, cultural identity, and what a military veteran has to face after serving. While there are isolated moments of over-the-top comedy, the issues from PTSD to sexual identity are handled with very good writing as well as acting.
But what caught my attention in terms of my website was Rita Moreno, the Abula of the family, making breakfast each morning. In one episode they showed her making the Café Cubano, Cuban coffee. There certainly a lot of ways to make coffee around the world, and this was one I had not tried.
Readers of home-barista.com may remember I had posted a link to a closeout sale at the Espresso Zone website. The item I mentioned specifically in that post was for the Espro travel press, an item I had reviewed here. Not being one to pass a closeout sale I perused the two pages of items and found a moka pot. Most often referred to as “stove-top espresso maker” in the USA, these devices are reportedly the most common espresso makers in Italian homes. I am not going to discuss whether they make “real” espresso or not. That is not the point of this article. But after seeing Ms. Moreno making Cuban coffee, I saw a two-cup moka pot in this closeout sale so I bought one. This stainless steel version was only $15 delivered so I had little to lose.
When choosing a moka pot I personally like stainless steel. Aluminum is more difficult to keep clean and can be heavily oxidized if the incorrect cleaning products are used. They come in various sizes, usually indicated by “cups” of coffee. In this case, a cup is 1½ to 2 ounces (45 to 60 ml).
A MOKA POT
The typical moka pot usually consists of three major parts:
A – The bottom chamber where the water starts
B – The filter funnel
C – The top chamber where the brewed coffee ends up
D indicates the pressure safety valve
HOW A MOKA POT WORKS
1 – The top chamber (C) is unscrewed from the bottom chamber (A). Remove the filter basket (B) and for a full pot of coffee fill the chamber with water to just below the safety valve. Some models allow making partial pots. These usually are supplied with a separator for the coffee basket. Never use so much water that the safety valve in submerged. This has the potential of shooting boiling water out if an overpressure situation occurs.
2 – Fill the filter basket/funnel (2) with ground coffee and level it off across the top of the basket. The bottom of the section that holds the coffee is perforated much like an espresso machine's basket as seen here:
Note that you should NOT compress the coffee as you would with a pump-driven espresso machine. The grind should be about the same as an espresso grind or possibly just a bit more coarse. Carefully place the filter funnel back into the bottom portion of the moka pot being sure to clean off all stray grounds so as to leave a clean, sealing surface.
3 – Screw top top portion onto the bottom and tighten. There is another perforated filter on the bottom of section 3 as well as a gasket indicated by the blue arrow:
When the top is tightened to complete the assembly, the gasket sits on the outer rim of the filter funnel to create a sealed chamber. It helps to wet the gasket to ensure a good seal.
4 – Place the pot over a heat source. The water (1) is brought to a boil. Since the lower section is sealed, steam pressure builds (5) and as the pressure increases it forces the water up the funnel (5) and through the ground coffee (2) and it dribbles out into the top chamber (7). When the dribbling stops, remove the pot from the heat source.
TURNING A MOKA INTO CUBAN COFFEE
Like so many other coffee making methods, there are various ways to make Cuban coffee. Basically, into a glass vessel add the desired amount of sugar. Start with something like ½ to 1 teaspoon per cup. A pyrex measuring cup with a spout will make it easier to pour into your cups. Preheat the vessel by running it under hot water will help keep the coffee warm. Pour in the finished espresso and mix fervently until it forms a bit of "espumita" (the froth on top). Pour into the small cups and enjoy.
My first effort was a success and made for a wonderful change of pace. When shopping for a pot make sure it has an insulated, or non-metal handle that leaves plenty of room for your hand. The pot gets quite hot as you can imagine. And be sure to carefully read the instructions that come with the stove-top espresso maker!
Whether you call it cafecito, Cuban Coffee, or Café Cubano, it is an easy and delightful way to start the morning.
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