Dear Dad: My Café Con Leche Will Never Be As Good As Yours
11/09/2012 - 10:27 ||
Growing up, Café con Leche played an important role in my daily life. I can’t recall the first time I had coffee, but I do remember I was very young. Drinking coffee became a daily part of my life and one that I could not bear to go without.
I recall warm memories of my mother’s blurry figure in a dark bedroom, walking toward me, sweetly blowing air into a very hot café con leche (how her hand didn't burn from the boiling hot cup I'll never know!). Meanwhile, my father incorporated coffee into our daily life in such a way that not having coffee in the morning meant one of two things: either that something horrible had happened, or blood work needed to be done.
Every day, I could count on my father working on his espresso. And I mean just that...“working.” He took it very seriously, and when he'd finish, just one sip of his café con leche would alert my senses immediately and prepare me for the day ahead.
The kids in my school had nothing on me at 7:30 am after a shot of my dad's espresso! And what always stands out in my memory is how easy my father made this all look. His recipe? "Some Café Bustelo, an old Cafetera, some sugar and a spoon," he explained. Easy enough, right? Not quite...
My older brother and I would bring the cafetera with us to Miami for vacation and in my dad's absence, he would tell me, "Make it like dad, go!" Every time, I would give it everything I had in me. I would recall all of the steps and try to mimic my father's movement with the spoon as he combined the coffee with the sugar to create a brown sugar right before he added the espresso to the mix. When I was done making the coffee, my brother would sip it, then he'd look up and I knew yet again that all I was able to accomplish was a less than average imitation of my father's delicious espresso.
Still, when I moved out of my parents' house, I was sure that I would master this recipe once and for all! At first, I tried to create the drink with an espresso machine, then I moved on to my father's very old cafetera, which he gave me as a gift after hearing about my "coffee troubles." I'd add more sugar, then less sugar. I'd stir more and stir less. Finally, I just gave up and began buying my coffee on my way to work at Starbucks...
Recently, I started making coffee again. All of these failed attempts have definitely hurt my ego, but I realize now that making the perfect coffee will be a life-long goal for me. And one day, my kids will look up at me and marvel as I create the perfect café con leche and they will wonder if they could ever do the same...
What you'll need to make a great cup of café con leche:
An expresso machine or cafetera (I personally prefer a cafetera, but that could be because I saw it so much growing up that I thought it was my sister!).
You'll also need milk and sugar and cafe bustelo.
How to Prepare (I asked my dad to share his tips with Latina.com readers).Here's what he said:
1). Make the espresso: When it comes to the amount of sugar you use, no two people are alike. I like it sweet, so he suggested I add 5 teaspoons of sugar to the cup (before) the espresso is added. After the first couple of drops of coffee fall on the sugar, stir the sugar and a few drops of coffee together. If you do this correctly, a foam will rise to the top when you finish adding the rest of the coffee.
2). Add the expresso to steamed milk. Some people will choose NOT to add sugar after combining the milk and expresso, because they are satisfied with the sugar already added to the espresso, but others like it really sweet. So add more sugar if you like...
3). You're done! Enjoy your delicious cafe con leche!
What was your experience with cafe con leche growing up? Do you envy the way your parents make it? Dish in the comments!