Okay, let's be real. Why is the Cuban so magically good? It's nearly unexplainable, but practically everyone who tries it likes it. We think of it like the goldilocks of coffee drinks. Not too sweet, not too big, but just right. If you don't know what to order at the register, odds are that we'll recommend the Cuban. Too hot outside? Just get it iced. It doesn't matter if it's morning or afternoon, it's always the right choice.
What is a Cuban Latte?Before we go any further, let’s explain what a Cuban is. You may not know this, but everyone makes a Cuban differently. At The Well, our cuban is a short latte that uses sweetened condensed milk instead of whole milk. Since it's a short latte, it's served as an 8oz beverage in our cafes. Some of you, particularly if you’re from Florida, might ask if this is the same as a cubano? The answer is no. Many customers from out of town have come into our stores looking for a cubano only to be a bit dismayed that it's nothing similar. A cubano is a shot of espresso with a packet of raw sugar placed within the portafilter whilst pulling the shot. What you end up with is a particularly sweet, roughly 2oz espresso. A Cuban latte takes the essence of that idea, but turns it into a slightly larger drink. You can have ours served both hot or cold (16 oz iced), and it is without a doubt the most popular drink in our cafes.
Where Did The Cuban Latte Come From?Very little is known about the specific origins of the Americanized Cuban latte. The best we can tell is that it's a bit of a mutt in the coffee world, drawing influences from many different areas. While it is somewhat similar to the traditional Cubano hailing from Cuba, the Cuban latte is most closely related to the Spanish latte, which is made by using both sweetened condensed milk along with normal milk. Additionally, the Vietnamese coffee "Ca Phe Sua Da" uses sweetened condensed milk as well as dark-roasted espresso and is mainly served over ice.
Globally and historically, the tradition of mixing sweetened condensed milk with coffee grew from the need to make dark-roasted, bitter-tasting espressos more palatable to their respective communities. While we won’t be debating the tastes and qualities of dark-roast vs. light-roast here, we can probably all agree that adding sweetened condensed milk to espresso creates a drink that practically anyone can enjoy.
The Cuban, RemixedAs many of you know, some of our most anticipated drinks here at The Well are our seasonal drinks. Our baristas hand-craft and create these competition-level beverages. We then vote on them in-house to decide which ones best suit our community in different seasons. Let me share a little secret: many, many times have we taken the base concept of a Cuban latte and remixed it! One of our most popular seasonal drinks, Wake Up San Francisco, is a cuban mixed with house-made blackberry and lavender syrup. The simplicity of the Cuban latte is what we love so much. It’s versatility is what leads us to use it as our base to play with seasonal flavors. Check out our seasonal menu and you’ll see what we mean.
ConclusionWhen coming into any coffeehouse, you have a lot of choices. It can be overwhelming, which often leads people to choose the same thing over and over. If you ever want to branch out, a Cuban latte is a safe bet. It's been around so long, even in the specialty coffee world, that we think it is going to be added to the list of "classics" in the near future. Come see what all the buzz is about.
Digitally clinking cuban glasses,