I learned to drink coffee the way most kids in Miami learned to drink coffee. Back in middle school, my introduction to coffee was Cuban Coffee. Cortaditos, Cafe con leche, Coladas. Cuban Coffee was a good gateway into the coffee world for a youngster, but it definitely was not “good coffee.”
I’m sure many people will be upset at me for saying that Cuban Coffee is not good coffee.
Why do people love Cuban Coffee so much? It’s mostly the added sugar and/or milk that makes it taste good. The coffee itself just taste like low-quality coffee. It has no distinct flavors. If you can’t drink it straight up (black), then it’s probably not a good coffee. And no one really drinks Cuban Coffee straight up (they add tons of sugar to it).
Cuban Coffee is no better than Starbucks (although their newer Blonde Roast is fine, on its own). No one is actually going to Starbucks for the coffee, though. People go to Starbucks for all the sugar, chocolate, caramel and other delicious junk they stuff into their “coffee drinks”. Black coffee at Starbucks tastes burnt. I once used their beans for a cold brew and it ended up tasting like what burnt tires smell like.
Starbucks may get their coffee beans from exotic farmers across the world, but they are given the snicklefritz (aka the garbage pile, aka the crappy leftovers). I’m sure there are good Cuban Coffee beans out there, somewhere. But, all of the Cuban restaurants and bakeries are using the snicklefritz, as well (Pilon, Bustelo, Sergio’s Coffee).
I don’t think I’m better than Starbucks or Cuban Coffee. I enjoy the occasional sugary coffee drink and S’mores frappuccino. I’ll dip my tostada in a Cafe con Leche. I’ll even have some Colada sometimes after lunch. These things all taste good, I’m just saying that the coffee beans themselves are garbage beans. Most people haven’t tried good coffee, they’ve just enjoyed crappy coffee their whole lives.
It’s like when you try a real fruit after only having the canned version in syrup before that. Which is something that happened to me with lychee fruit the other day. And I said to myself, Wow, I didn’t know the real thing could taste so good.
Just like with beer, I guess I’ve become a coffee snob. I would much rather drink one or two beers that I enjoy over ‘TeLeven’ cans (that’s the number between ten and eleven) of dirty beer water. I’m trying to only drink one to maybe two coffee drinks per day. So, I’m keeping it to good quality coffee. I get beans from Panther, Intelligentsia and other fancy roasters. Sometimes, I just check what Fresh Market has on sale and if it’s not very good I end up cold brewing it. There’s also something fun about making a pour over in the morning. It feels like a science experiment that I get to enjoy with my mouth.
Every once in a while, I do need a sugary frappuccino or some cafe con leche. And that’s why I’m happy to live in the capital of coladas and croquetas.