cubano shots anyone?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by hgs »

a while ago, a pro barista told me about a cubano shot - putting raw sugar in the PF w/ the coffee, and brewing. i started brewing cubanos all the time w/ great results - albeit on my old briel machine.

i have since been told that it can damage the machine - and am thus reluctant to try it on my anita. i tend to think it would all be safe - i mean, the sugar simply dissolves with 200f water. the risk, however, would be if some of the brew backed up into the machine (as coffee does anyhow) - so now, instead of just coffee, one would have something more sticky to have to backflush out.

btw - on the briel, the cubano shots tasted great (for those of you that like sugar in your espresso).

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#2: Post by chelya »

I don't like sugar in espresso generally, but I am curious.
What proportion of coffee/sugar do you use? Is channeling an issue?

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#3: Post by Grant »

Safe or not, I would not put sugar in *my* PF for exactly the reasons you mention...having it back up into the valves etc.

But it sounds so great....I am tempted to try it once.


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#4: Post by mattwells »

One of the local cafe's does this. Ratio is dependent upon the PBTC that you get.

I would try 1/3 coffee 1/3 sugar 1/3 coffee in layer and see how it turns out.

I think you would probably be fine as long as you immediately backflushed.

Of course, the local cafe that does these just replaced their machine. Makes you wonder why.
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hgs (original poster)
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#5: Post by hgs (original poster) »

hmm... a 1/3 sugar ratio seems a bit aggressive... i would put only about as much sugar in as i would usually add to a normal shot - for me, one demitasse spoonful.

i agree - immediate backflush would probably make it safer.

i'm still curious if anyone has done it consistently without damage to a pro or prosumer -type machine

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#6: Post by old442 »

As with everything else there are multiple ways to make this.
I went to Mayorga and they put the sugar in the cup and mix during the shot. They used equal amounts by volume of sugar and espresso, WAY too sweet for me.

A local cafe run by Cubans puts about 2 teaspoons of sugar in a pitcher and pulls the shot into it, stirs and serves. Theirs I like and make it at home, mainly for the wife but I do enjoy them occasionally. Use a coarser grind than espresso (like granulated sugar), updose, lightly tamp and pull the shot for about 15 seconds and yield 5 or 6 ounces. BTW, the "right" beans makes it taste correct, Black Cat is ho hum for this. I can't believe I said that. If you really want to do it right get Pilon, Bustillo tastes too burnt to me.


hgs (original poster)
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#7: Post by hgs (original poster) »

after reading ... .php?t=154

i think i'll keep my cubano-test limited to my experience w/ the cheap briel

i wonder if that machine mentioned above was replaced for some related reason

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#8: Post by Alex_chef2000 »

You should NEVER use any sugar inside an Espresso Machine. For sure that it will damage the three way valve once the machine gets cold. You can pour a shot over sugar or so, but NEVER inside your portafilter. If you do a backflushing after it may help, but not for sure.

I had seen baristas pouring also cocoa, teas, and some seeds like cardamom with coffee, but sugar is different because the three way valve will get clogged.

The result: a cuban shot for $ 350 US ( Machine repairs :lol: ).



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#9: Post by Everman »

I think you might be ok if you put the sugar at the bottom of the pf, I doubt any would get back into the machine that way. I'd make sure to backflush with detergent at the end of the day. Personally I don't take sugar with espresso, that would be a sign that something is wrong with it.

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#10: Post by cremacafe »

I've been making cubanos here at the shop for a while. Customers LOVE them, and I've converted drip brew only customers to straight espresso now using a cubano as a transitional drink. I put a small layer of espresso in the PF, a thin layer of turbinado sugar, and dose/tamp/ as usual. The sugar is not going to back up into the machine as long as it is not on top of the coffee.

That being said, my chef and I have been taste testing different methods of prearing this drink. The above mentioned method versus sugar in the cup and using Monin raw sugar syrup in the mug. We both have agreed that using the Monin sugar syrup in the mug, shot pulled on top, then 1oz steamed half and half has a better quality. So I have abandoned the sugar in the PF due to taste, not problems with the machine. I also know the shot quality is severely compromised when adding sugar in the puck. So using the syrup allows the shot quality to remain high.

I use one pump of the Monin syrup, 2 oz espresso, 1 oz steamed half and half. It is quite decadent.
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