How to Make a Cortadito – Doing it the Cuban Way

Have you thought about trying something different to quench your coffee thirsts recently? Well, if you have, then this time we are going to tell you about how to make a Cortadito that will certainly live up to your coffee expectations.

If you have a love for coffee, then you must have the urge to try different coffee beverages every now and then. Be it espressos or the lattes or the cappuccinos – you do want to explore the coffee variations, brewing styles and flavors, don’t you?

To get the authentic Cuban taste, go with Cuban coffee beans, since the distinct roasting process of these beans gives them the sought after taste.

In this read, we will have a detailed look at one of the prestigious and iconic Cuban coffee variations – the Cortadito.

What is a Cortadito

First things first, let us start by understanding the history and origination of this drink. Café Cortadito – commonly referred to as the ‘Cuban Espresso’ – is a trademark coffee beverage that originated in Cuba.

Cuba, the largest single-island of the archipelago, and one of the most influential states of the Caribbean region, has been long known for its coffee roots, particularly the Cortadito. This Cuban espresso shot is brewed using demerara sugar to add its trademark ‘sweetening’ effect.

How to Make a Cuban Espresso Cortadito

Some say the Cortadito is the Cuban version of an Espresso Macchiato due to the similarities in the coffee itself as well as the brewing styles. Well, we are about to find out!

However, before discussing the brewing methodology, let us first have a look at the things that you will require for a perfect cup of Cuban espresso shot using an espresso maker.

Items Required for a Cortadito

For the perfect espresso, you will need:

  • Cuban Coffee beans (other coffee beans would work too, but Cuban coffee is preferred)
  • Coffee Grinder
  • A bowl
  • Water

As far as the ingredients are concerned, you will need:

  • Cuban Espresso
  • White Sugar
  • Coffee Cream (as per your preferences)
  • Evaporated Milk (as per your preferences)

Talking about the hardware and equipment, you will need the following items:

  • An Espresso Maker (Stove-top/moka pot or plug-in)
  • Mixing Container
  • Teaspoon

Once you have all the aforementioned items ready with you, then it’s time for the action to begin.

Here is a step-by-step guide on making the perfect Cortadito shot of espresso:

Fill Your Espresso Maker with Water

The first step is to fill up your moka pot with water. The quantity might differ according to the brand and model of your espresso maker. Just make sure you do not go above the marked line for maximum water volume.

Grind your Coffee

Just like with any other coffee brewing, the coffee grind is one of the most important elements to get the right flavor that you are probably looking forward to.

If you are using Café Cubano – the right sort of Cuban coffee that is – make sure the coffee beans are not older than 3 weeks. Also, a dark roast is preferred for this drink as it has a better flavor due to less acidity as compared to a light roast.

As far as the coffee grind is concerned, go for the fine grind instead of a coarse one as fine coffee grind works better in espresso machines.

Brew Your Coffee

Once you have the perfect coffee grind as per your liking, next step would be to brew the coffee. Before that, make sure the top of the moka pot is open so that you are able to see the spout during the process.

Once everything is set, start with the brewing process. The stove needs to be put on high heat and as soon as you get the first few drops of espresso, remove it from heat right away.

The Caramelizing Process for the Espuma

The next step is to caramelize the sugar. You can do this by using those first few drops from the espresso maker that you collected in the previous step and add them in a bowl of sugar.

Make sure to wet the sugar thoroughly by adding sufficient amount of espresso in it. Stir it for a while to get the perfect ‘espuma’ that you need for your Cortadito Cubano beverage.

Add Caramelized Sugar in Espresso

Put the espresso maker back on heat and once the brewing process is complete, mix the sugar paste from the previous step in the espresso and give it a nice stir. Make sure you stir this mixture properly.

Once this step is done, you will notice that you get a light brown colored coffee mixture.

Add Cream or Milk to the Mixture

Once you observe a layer or a cap on the top of the mixture, this means that your previous step is complete with through mixing of sugar and espresso.

After this, you can add your favorite cream or evaporated milk as per your preferences. This is not necessary though, as some people enjoy their Cortadito without the addition of cream or milk.

Ready to Serve!

Serve your Cortadito in those iconic tacitas cups and enjoy your drink!

The Cortadito – Brief History & Prestige

Since the 1959 Cuban revolution, this country has had a rather difficult journey in terms of stability and prosperity. However, its people have tried to keep alive their Cuban traditions and heritage in whatever way they possibly could.

The iconic Cortadito portrays deep cultural and traditional Cuban roots, encapsulated within its slight bitter flavor, the demerara sweetening effect and the ‘espuma’ layer of froth to give the perfect taste to this Cuban espresso shot.

The Tacitas Serving

In 1962, the Cuban government nationalized the country’s food supply and allotted rations to every citizen – coffee being one of them.

The government allots a Cuban citizen four ounces of coffee in a month. This is the reason why Cortadito is served in those little tacitas – small cups that reflect the country’s hardships in terms of basic necessities such as food and beverages.

Cortadito Coffee in a Moka Pot

If you are a coffee lover, then you would know that moka pot is widely used in regions like Central and South America, Europe and the Caribbean states.

These stainless steel pots have their own cultural and traditional background in different parts of the world. The mechanism is simple – push water up through the coffee grounds using steam pressure to give you the perfect coffee beverage.

Nutritional Facts

If you are a health conscious person and quite picky about the nutritional information before you eat or drink anything, well, here are some nutritional facts for a single 1 oz serving of Cortadito:

Fat1 g
Cholesterol6 mg
Carbohydrates6 g
Protein4 g

Since this drink is usually consumed without adding milk, you do not have to worry about the negative health impacts of this Cuban espresso beverage.

The Overall Cuban Espresso Experience

Exploring the different variations of coffee is something that you, being a coffee addict, should do more often. When I first had the Café Cubano or Cortadito, it actually gave me a very soothing, yet flavorful effect.

This is a truly refreshing coffee experience that you witness through a very short and strong burst of some delightful Cuban coffee beans. The sweetness and strength of the Cortadito hits you in a way and trust me, not many espressos out there are able to do that.

Concluding Our Cuban Espresso Cortadito Guide

To sum it up, yes, Cortadito is one of those rare drinks that you might not find on all coffee shops that you probably know of. In some parts of the world, it is considered as a specialty drink.

Although it may take some time to adjust with the little quantity of tacitas serving, you can always have these in your demitasse or your regular coffee cups that you use for other coffee beverages.

Brewing a Cortadito cup at home is no rocket science, however, you just need to be careful while selecting the coffee beans and the way you grind those beans.

If you want to know how to make a Cortadito at home in the simplest of ways, try following our guide instead of learning it the hard way through those countless unsuccessful attempts!