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Espresso Shots & The Perfect Espumita

(café con leche at 7 am on the deck via my Instagram)

In an email exchange just a few minutes ago, I told the other party to make the best out of today. It’s Monday. Their response was quite clever: meh, Monday is just Friday’s late/early cousin. I got to thinking about it, and, yeah, when you work for yourself, days run into each other without any consideration for your time or need of breaks and proper ciestas. I’d like to think the lack of ebb and flow on Monday mornings is the cause for my instant gravitation to fine espresso the minute my eyelashes flutter. But, it’s not. It’s a simple lifestyle choice and part of the maniac mind that keeps this one-woman show going.

I’ve tried to blame Mami for my addiction to café. She’s given me a hard look dismissing the accusation, leaving me little confidence in transferring guilt. But not for a Dr. telling me once I have to cut back on drinking espresso because of potential boobage density, this wouldn’t be an issue.  I keep that in mind since I’m not the youngest chick anymore (on most days), but if I stopped enjoying something so classically simple and rich, you might as well tell me the world was coming to end. Or that I was never going to get married.

(a cup of black via my Instagram; no foam this time)

You already know how I start my day, continue throughout the afternoon and pull all-nighters. Unfortunately, and what fosters the addiction is the lack of jolt I need it to give me  sometimes. Only my morning sips trigger my brain.  I suppose my body’s accustomed to the dosage. However, I’ve come to learn that my body reacts differently to every taza, demitasse, cup or shot I swig. No matter how I enjoy it. Because yeah, I don’t discriminate. I have it any kind of way.

If I’m home and enjoy my typical routine, then I’m good. My functionality is normal. If I’m traveling and have something less than, my body knows it and has about a 10 minute delay in everything. That was extremely evident while traveling in Dominican Republic two weeks ago. I was a beggar. At any point during the day I’d ask our hostess for a pit stop to grab some black coffee. Even then, the roast, as dark as it was, wasn’t the same. And so my days painfully dragged along.

(a simple black cup sin espumita in DR via my Instagram)

(L to R, clockwise: 11 pm shot enjoyed after 5 hours of traveling; a shot enjoyed in Miami after lunch; cortadito enjoyed in Miami after lunch, Day  2: full cup of espresso with espuma ready to be divied up into shots; all via my Instagram)

Second to our house or any Cuban’s home, most joints in Miami is sure to pass out solid black coffee with the right level of robustness. Even the rapiditos in the airport. The difference there and one I’ve started to implement every chance I get, is making espuma, or espumita for single shots I don’t usually do it out of sheer laziness, but it’s the right way to enjoy  Cuban espresso. The contradiction is that I loathe foam in a cup of Joe from ‘bux or any other chain. It kinda repulses me. Ours is different. It’s not foam from milk, rather from sugar. Pure adrenaline. See why it’s only right to enjoy it this way??! With a roast as refined and tar as ours, a lovely layer of froth is perfect to cut the acidity. And maximizes decadence.

Not to mention it just looks sexy.

There’s a simple yet methodical way of accomplishing the perfect espumita for your cafécito. Whether you’re going for bold and only having a shot or enjoying the middle ground of a cortadito, or all way soft with café con leche (my default choice), you still want to have some espumita!! 

Say it with me. Ess-poo-mee-tah. Again… Yes!  I’ll share my lil secret with you. I promise your espresso experience will never be the same. You’ll understand the sexy behind it.

It’s so coffee p*orn, but it takes practice. Practice. Practice. Practice.

bren-herrera-froth in red espresso maker

(freshly brewed Cuban espresso with whipped espuma)

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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  • 5 heaping tsps. sugar
  • 1 tsp. espresso (1st drippings)


Using a tin cup, traditionally used in war eras (such as the blue spongeware one pictured above) and old Havana, add sugar. When espresso maker  releases first drippings, quickly add one teaspoon of coffee to cup. Return espresso maker to stove and allow to finish brewing. Using a stainless steel teaspoon, stir rigorously until sugar starts to thicken into a paste-like consistency, about 2 minutes. Pour espresso into cup and stir well. Foam will rise to the top and cover your cup. Pour back into espresso maker.

Serve individual demitasse for single shots or cortaditos. Scoop out some espumita from espresso maker and top your shot. Pour into mug for café con leche.

47 thoughts on “Espresso Shots & The Perfect Espumita

  1. I just had one coffee but I think I will go and practise your method right now! 🙂
    For the last couple of days the weather in London is truly Cuban so your recipe is just on time…
    Have a wonderful week my friend!

  2. Oh my gosh, this is fabulous! I rotate my coffee makers so I don’t get too bored with one type. Now I’m on my French Press, but your post has me convinced to bring out the espresso maker tomorrow. The photos are crazy good.

  3. I never drink cafe (I know – the horror). But it’s quite possible now that if I had you in front of me with one of these cups, that would certainly change.

  4. Monica: Let me convert you! 😉

    KarmaFreeCooking: Perfecto! Smart girl, you are!

    Comiendo en LA: Please enjoy! You owe it to yourself! 😉

    Ericka: Thanks, thanks, thanks !:)

    Margot: Try it and let me know how you love it. It’s not difficult, just requires practice in getting that right amount of coffee in the sugar.

    Lori Lynn: Thanks, pretty lady. I rotate mine,too, but not as often. I love my French Press, too, but it’s currently in storage. I should just go ahead and get a smaller one in the meantime.

    Eliana: I had no idea you don’t do café! Que locura! We will definitely sip on some while I’m up there!

  5. I want to learn to do this!! I don’t like much sugar in my coffee but I think I can try and then add some extra coffee without sugar to complement? I don’t know, mix and match! But I’m gonna try. So I was reading the instructions and you put the fist teaspoon of espresso in the cup, then the sugar, stir and then the whole mix back into the maker? So the maker shouldn’t be too full before you add the whole mix back again verdad? Or I can maybe mix it in another cup… Que confusión te hize, jajaja!

  6. My mami makes this too at home when she makes coffee. It always smells go good. Your pictures are are so nice.

  7. I just cannot handle caffeine well enough to get down with the espresso. I didn’t have my first jolts until I was in Rome throwing back macchiati like it was my job. Well, after having 6 or 7 in one day, I thought I was going to fall out. 🙂 You are a champ!

  8. Even I, not being a coffee lover, have to admit that there’s nothing like a shot of Cuban espresso with espumita 🙂 You know I just get a sip from your mom’s cup -it’s like a ritual- but that is enough to get me going. You’re right: Puerto Plata lo tiene Todo…but their coffee…hmm, let’s say I’d rather have ours 🙂 No offense, I hope.

  9. Hey B – Long time no ‘see’ 🙂

    Thought I would stop by and share my new site (FoodFotoGallery.com) that’s really taking off. If you’re interested in submitting a food photo or two, I’d love to promote your submissions on social media. If you decide to send something over, I prefer images without watermarks so people can enjoy the beauty of the photography

    Hope to see you there & hope your day is going well 🙂

  10. How refreshing to see this beautiful espumita on a Cuban. So many coffee shops fail to realize just how important it is, and forget about S***bucks baristas even knowing what espumita is. It is the difference between having a watery bitter acidic coffee and having absolute bliss in a cup. It is that important. I find using a metal or preferably tin cup to whip the sugar in makes a thicker longer lasting foam head. And whipping sugar until I feel burn in back of my arm probably helps. Maybe there’s magnetic or static properties in tin cup, who knows, but I find it has noticeable difference. I introduce the sugar paste into the espresso slowly and allow the heat to melt the paste off the spoon while stirring lightly. There is a technique that with a little practice will soon become natural.

  11. Enjoyed examining this, very good stuff, thankyou . “What the United States does best is to understand itself. What it does worst is understand others.” by Carlos Fuentes.

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