Cuban Coffee glossary
Café - Spanish for coffee
Café Cubano or cafecito - Cuban coffee with sugar. It is very strong and sweet. You can ask for no sugar (sin azucar) or extra sugar (más azúcar).
Café con leche - Latin latte. Shot or two of black Cuban coffee drowned in milk and sugar. This is often referred to as the gateway coffee. Usually drank at breakfast, it is normal for people to dunk Cuban bread or other pastries in it.
Cortadito - Short café con leche. You can also cut your coffee with evaporated milk (leche evaporada) or condensed milk (leche condensada), which yields a higher viscosity and slows down the receptors reaching your tongue and makes the coffee more intense, lowering the overall sweetness.
Colada - Café Cubano or cafecito served in a large Styrofoam cup. It is accompanied by small plastic cups and meant for sharing.
Café Americano - Black, American coffee. If you’re ordering this at a ventanita, you have no business being there. It’s guaranteed to get you side eye.
Espuma or espumita - Froth created by mixing sugar with the first drops of coffee. The froth eventually rises to the top when the coffee is poured in.
Pastelito - Baked phyllo dough pastry that can be savory or sweet. The most popular are filled with guava.
Barato - Spanish for cheap. Cuban coffee at ventanitas will always be cheap. As much as the craft coffee scene continues to flourish in Miami, the ventanita will never go away. For the older crowd living on fixed incomes and used to prices in the old country or ‘60s and ‘70s Miami, these locations provide not only a sense of place and familiarity, but a cheap place to convene.
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Miami native and freelance writer Mandy Baca wrote this after drinking a whole colada. She didn’t sleep for 3 days straight after. Follow her on Twitter at @mandybaca.