October 28, 2011

Cafe Au Lait or Cafe Con Leche?

Ok then, I took time off to go to the hospital for a procedure. Now I'm back and thankful that I can even move my fingers, let alone my body. Many thanks to all my family and friends who have been so supportive.

Having had a truly bad cup of coffee where I was being treated, I have been making some observations about coffee. It boggles the mind what with so many varieties and methods of making it.

I always buy my favorite latin brands because they're always espresso blends and strong. However, once in a while I'll try a gourmet coffee or two just because. I have also had to experiment with different methods in order to get the "Perfect" cup. Is there such a thing? I used to think I made good coffee. Well, when my espresso/cappucino maker broke down, I lost it. I no longer liked my coffee. I tried everything to get my coffee back and couldn't.

I reverted to making it the "old fashioned way", which in the latino culture means making it in a saucepan and then straining in a cloth filter into a coffee pot. Also the milk must be hot or steaming.  I also used a couple of espresso drip pots to no avail.
I have finally purchased a new coffeemaker that makes up to 12 cups of coffee. HMMM, so far it's not speaking to me.

I think I'll stick to my "old fashioned way". That is always a good thing.

A little history of coffee: 
Coffee beans and it's plant originated in Africa.  At first, it was made into an alcoholic beverage . It was the Arabs that first extracted the beans, toasted them, ground them and mixed with hot water. Venetian merchants introduced it to Europe in the XVI century.

Although not as famous as Colombian coffee, the Island of Puerto Rico , in the Caribbean, has had a long association with the production of coffee. The coffee bean was brought over to the island in the 1700's and became it's principal export. Notwithstanding the fact that islanders use new methods and machinery to make their coffee, the tried and true way is the artisenal cup made by die hard coffee drinkers.

Here is the overall method:
Cloth filter....."colador"
My Mom's vintage coffee pot with (new)  cloth filter. Pour brewed coffee over filter.
A lone cup o' Joe
Enjoying a cup of "cafe con leche" in "El Frente"

Place however many cups of water you want to make in a pot. Use a little more for vapor absorption. Measure 1 heaping  tablespoon of fine ground coffee for each cup you want and set aside. Heat the water until it boils, usually at 190 degrees F. When the water starts to boil, add the coffee grounds and mix well into the water. Lower the flame and allow to brew for one (1) minute, while stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and leave the pot on the stove 1 or 2 more minutes, while you continue to stir occasionally. The best part is you don't need expensive equipment for a good cup. Place a cloth filter inside the coffee pot and pour the coffee mixture making sure the grounds don't spill into the coffee. You can also just use the filter over the cup without the pot. For a Cafe Con Leche or Latte, use half cup steamed milk to half cup coffee or depending on how light or dark you want it.

For Cuban coffee, use a small espresso cup with sugar and black coffee.

It seems like a lot of work compared to just dropping some grounds into a machine, but the result is much better. A cup of good coffee is one of the simple treasures to be enjoyed in life.

For a different coffee experience, try mixing your regular coffee with a different mix or flavor when making it.



  1. What a wonderful post! First of all, I hope you're ok, and feeling better, and on the mend!
    Second, this brings back such fond memories of how we made coffee in the 70's,.
    We used to have a percolator on the stove top, which made the best ever coffee, then of course the "plug in" kind. Also the best! I used it up until the 80's when I got married, was a hand me down from my Mom. Coffee just was the best in those pots, thanks for the tips, tami

  2. Hi there

    I just found your blog and this wonderful tutorial on making fresh coffee. I ADORE what I call 'proper' coffee, and currently use a cafetiere, but love the sound of this method and will definitely give it a try.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Judi in the UK