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How to make Italian, Cuban, and Vietnamese coffee

on June 9, 2017

By: Fabián Marcel Vergara DeLeón, fabulous Taste Tour Guide

Those who know me, well or not, know that I am a voracious coffee drinker. As if my near unquenchable thirst for it wasn’t enough, I am also unusually particular about what kind of coffee I drink and how it is made. My love for coffee borders on the spiritual and for me, and drinking it at a place like Starbucks or Gloria Jean’s is to profane it. I always make it a point to prepare my own coffee. It’s something that stands out in a nation of flat white drinkers. So I’m going to use this article to talk about different types of coffee you may or may not know and try and explain how to make them.

Italian coffee

Perhaps this one is most familiar. It is made using a machinetta or moka pot in English. You can find them in the kitchenware sections of places like David Jones. They’re composed of three parts. The top, where the coffee is collected as it brews, the bottom which is filled with water, and a funnel which holds the grounds. You can grind your own beans for this. It should be slightly less fine than espresso but espresso bars also work quite well with the moka pot. I normally fill the funnel to slightly under the brim for a stronger flavour and more caffeine. Of course you can use less if you want. After screwing everything back together, put the pot on the stove on a medium high heat. The water in the bottom will begin to boil and brew your coffee. The top chamber will begin to fill with a dark, strong flavourful coffee. Once the coffee coming from the spout in the pot is light and no longer dark, quickly take it off the heat. This kind of coffee is best drunk from a demitasse. I usually have two every morning before I shower.

Cuban coffee

Cuba is known for its sugar. It comes as no surprise that coffee is also insanely popular there and in Cuban expatriate communities, particularly in Florida. Cuban coffee is a sugary, creamy variation of the Italian style. The preparation is largely the same. However while the coffee brews in the pot, grab a second vessel. I usually use a turkish coffee pot but a small cream jug works well too. Put about 4-5 teaspoons of sugar in it and when the first drops of the coffee begin to flow into the upper chamber of the moka pot, take about 2-3 spoonfuls of it and add it to the sugar. Proceed to give it a vigorous stirring. It should be slightly runny. After a while it will become pale and creamy. In Spanish this is called azuquita or “little sugar” and good azuquita is necessary for Cuban coffee. Pour the rest of the coffee into the vessel with the sugar mixture in it and watch the magic happen. The azuquita becomes a beautiful creamy foam or espuma that rises to the surface of the coffee. Obviously it’s a lot of sugar but the flavour is rich, dark and sweet. This one should also be served in a demitasse.

Vietnamese coffee

I don’t drink iced or cold coffees often, but when I do, it’s always Vietnamese coffee. In terms of grounds, there’s only one brand to go with and that’s Trung Nguyen. You probably won’t find it in Woolies or Coles but any of the Asian grocery shops in Cabramatta or Canley Vale always stock it. Vietnamese coffee also contains some chicory which gives it a beautiful slightly earthy aroma. To prepare the coffee, you’ll need a phim or coffee filter. These are also easy to find in Cabramatta. It looks like a small metal cup. Condensed milk is a must for traditional Vietnamese coffee but you can use milk or have it black if you must. Drop a spoonful of condensed milk in a glass. Take the phim and unscrew the top inside add about a tablespoon of coffee. If you add more than this, the water might not filter through. Tap the powder and screw the top back on and place it on top of the glass. Pour some boiling water into the top of the phim. About half filling it should do. The coffee will begin to drop filter slowly in large dark drops onto the creamy condensed milk. Take the phim off, add ice and stir. The contents of the glass should be a deep beige colour. The flavour here is notably sweeter than the last two coffee varieties and it packs quite a punch. Not only does it wake you up, but it makes a refreshing drink in the summer.

I take my coffee seriously and I really enjoy sharing this kind of thing with people. I hope you try some of these kinds of coffee and maybe find some of the ritualistic importance it has for me, for yourself.

If you’re especially interested in Vietnamese coffee, join us on a Cabramatta Delights tour and we can show you where to find the most delicious Viet iced coffee and also where you can purchase the coffee grounds and filter/cup to make it at home! 


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