We recently went on a cruise vacation out of Port Miami and being who we are, we simply had to sample some of the coffee culture there. Since there is a large Cuban American population in Miami it made sense for us to explore Little Havana in search of our first taste of Cuban coffee.
The first thing we noticed when prowling Calle Ocho, the main street of Little Havana, was that almost every eatery and restaurant offered “the best Cuban coffee”. We asked around but every person we spoke to gave us a different answer as to whose coffee was best. With as many opinions as there were options we began to worry that we might have to drink more coffee than was prudent at 4 in the afternoon in order to get a true taste of Cuban coffee.
Since we weren't sure where to go we decided to walk Calle Ocho and let our noses do a little detective work. It didn’t take long though for Sarah to recognize the tantalizing smell of roasting coffee. That cinched it for us, we wanted to go where the coffee was freshest. It took a little effort, but we soon found La Colada Gourmet, The House of Cuban Coffee. It is located in the heart of Little Havana, not far from Ball and Chain a popular bar and restaurant known for their live music. As soon as you walk in you know you’re in for a treat as a bright red drum roaster sits right in the midst of the café’s seating.
The gentleman roasting the coffee was very polite and knowledgeable. He proudly showed off his roaster (which was in operation the entire time we were there) and when we asked about how he roasted for Cuban coffee he told us that the most important thing was that the coffee be roasted very dark. The second most important ingredient for roasting a really good Cuban coffee was, according to him, was using a Brazilian robusta as part of the recipe. That surprised us at first as robusta isn’t known for its flavor, quite the opposite. What it is known for though is its low acidity, rich body, and having much more caffeine. What you end up with is a strong, smoky, rich bodied coffee that takes additives such as brown sugar and dairy very well. Once we understood the reasoning behind blending arabica and robusta it stood to reason that we should try some for ourselves and so we asked what we should try. The answer, as it turned out, surprised us.
To be continued…