Posted Sun Nov 14, 2010, 11:22am Subject: Cuban - brewed with raw sugar
I was searching old posts and came across one with a long list of different types of espresso drinks - and one jumped out at me: espresso cubano - brewed with raw sugar.
I did a little googling and discovered, as I half expected, that the sugar is put in with the coffee grounds in the espresso machine.
I wondered where would it go? On the bottom? On the top? Mixed in? I figure if it were mixed in with the grounds I'd be promoting channeling as the sugar disolved and left voids. So I ground and tamped normally - but a slightly smaller dose - and then sprinkled a little raw sugar (those large, brown sugar crystals) on top of the coffee puck. Not much, just a sprinkle. Pulled a shot and it worked wonderfully.
I did a few extra backflushes and shower screen scrubs with a brush - but I would expect all that sugar disolved early in the extraction (I hope so, I'd hate to plug up my solenoid valve with sugar) - it was a lot sweeter than the same amount of sugar stirred in later so I'll use even less sugar next time I try this.
Anyway, it was just a fun little experiment - I normally don't use sugar or milk, just straight espresso - but it was fun to learn something new I can try when making a drink for others who like it sweet.
kopidrinker Senior Member Joined: 2 Feb 2009 Posts: 180 Location: S.F. Bay Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: SS Saeco Aroma w/ NPPF Grinder: Compak K5, Maestro Plus Drip: Melitta 10 cup manual,...
Posted Sun Nov 14, 2010, 11:54pm Subject: Re: Cuban - brewed with raw sugar
Andy and Jason,
I think what one of the comments made on one of those links made sense to me. It's about how a sugar syrup is less likely to overextract. I don't know if this is true. Perhaps it provides a buffer? However, I do know that I am a fan of cafe Cubanos at Epicenter. Made with sugar in the portafilter, on top of the puck. Adding sugar after makes a totally different drink. Check it out when you're in the city.
Posted Mon Nov 15, 2010, 7:11am Subject: Re: Cuban - brewed with raw sugar
I just had another one this morning. I did it the same way - normal grind and tamp and then sprinkled raw sugar on top. It definitely is different than adding the sugar afterwards and not just the sweetness but the texture of the espresso - it does seem like the extraction is different.
artichoke Senior Member Joined: 25 Aug 2010 Posts: 69 Location: New York NY Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Mon Nov 15, 2010, 9:55am Subject: Re: Cuban - brewed with raw sugar
I just tried it and it had two effects, in my very nonscientific and not-very-repeatable experience with my Krups machine:
(1) It got rid of some sourness or bitterness (not sure which it would have been since I get either or both, but most recently bitterness with these beans / grind -- so that would jibe with the observation that it minimizes overextraction.)
(2) It made the coffee taste somewhat raw. This makes sense, if the sugar is coating the granules and preventing a full extraction from happening. Thinking back to when I used to get "Cuban coffee" from a lunch spot in NYC midtown with their cool old gas-fired espresso machine, that may have tasted a bit raw too, although I liked it -- maybe they did the same thing.
It did take the edge off the bitterness so that I wasn't motivated to put raw honey in the espresso as I usually do.
Posted Mon Nov 15, 2010, 12:15pm Subject: Re: Cuban - brewed with raw sugar
This is intriguing....but scary too. Doing this in a machine with a solenoid or E61 lever.....the long-term effects of sugar buildup in an $$$ machine would be ghastly, I would think. And I'm not sure Cafeza would break down hardened sugar...
Though it may warrant a steamtoy to give it a try ;)
Posted Sun Nov 21, 2010, 12:35pm Subject: Re: Cuban - brewed with raw sugar
I was listening to the radio (NPR) and they had a cooking expert on - someone asked why they could soak dry beans overnight and still not get them to cook no matter how long they boiled them. The expert said it could be old beans or it could also be hard water (that surprised me). Said that minerals in the water cause the water to not be able to get into the cells to soften them. As an example, they mentioned that you can add molasses or brown sugar to the water and then cook beans much longer without them getting mushy. Said that the minerals and sugar in the cooking water prevented the cells from breaking down so fast.
This got me wondering if that is why I get such a different (I think better) espresso extraction when I put the raw sugar on top of the tamped coffee puck.
Anyway ... I still occasionally pull a shot this way and I continue to be amazed at how well it works and how thick and rich the espresso seems - the mouthfeel is really nice.
LiteOnPhotography Senior Member Joined: 21 Nov 2010 Posts: 66 Location: arlington Expertise: Pro Barista
Espresso: Braville Xl Grinder: bunn Drip: bodum
Posted Mon Nov 22, 2010, 8:41am Subject: Re: Cuban - brewed with raw sugar
yeah, I really like cubanas. The sugar is something that many people that are espresso drinkers don't like. The sugar is on top and its adds a creamier texture. Make sure you backflow often and won't have a problem with the solenoid. We probably make over a dozen everyday at the store I work for.
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