Sugar has been one of Cuba's top crops for centuries, so it's only natural that it should play a major role in the country's cuisine. You'll find it in desserts like buñuelos or Cuban flan, but it also pairs beautifully with one of the country's other major crops: coffee. Cubans make their coffee in many ways, but there's one commonality -- that strong, sweet taste that Cuban coffee is known for.
Traditional Cuban coffee, called café Cubano, is made from finely ground beans with a stovetop espresso maker. The first few drops of espresso are vigorously mixed with brown sugar until a creamy foam, known as an espuma or espumita, starts to form. This rich froth is the result of a chemical reaction between the hot coffee and the sugar and creates a different sweet taste than the flavor you'd get from mixing the sugar into coffee after it has already been fully brewed.
Often, Cubans create café cortado by adding a generous helping of steamed milk to combat the bitter taste of the coffee. Sugar doesn't always mix well with cold water, though, so if you're craving an iced version of the drink, consider opting for using sweetened condensed milk instead. This canned milk mixes beautifully — and provides a rich, creamy taste and texture.
How To Make Iced Cuban Coffee With Sweetened Condensed Milk
If you have an espresso machine on hand, the brewing method is similar to the one used to make traditional Cuban coffee with brown sugar. Brew 2 shots of espresso using rich, finely ground espresso beans, like Café Bustelo, then pour the coffee into a cup with a tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk. Stir the mixture together, then pour it into a mason jar with ice. Screw the lid on the jar, then shake it into a thick, fluffy foam to match Cuban coffee's characteristic frothy texture. Finally, add a bit of regular milk to top it off.
No espresso machine? No problem. Since you don't have to worry about dissolving sugar into a cold drink, you can easily make an approximation of Cuban coffee using cold brew. You don't even have to have a coffee machine at all — just refrigerate a mixture of ground coffee and water at a 1:5 ratio overnight. Once it's brewed, use a strainer or coffee filter to remove the coffee grounds, then combine the cold brew in a cup with ice and a few tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk as a creamer.
If you choose, you can top it off with a bit of regular milk to thin the texture and cut down the sweet taste. In Cuba -- and in Cuban communities abroad -- coffee is very much a social drink. So, consider inviting a few friends over to share a cup and enjoy a good conversation.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.