Friday, July 12, 2013

Coffee Talk

Iced Coconut Café Latte - Get the recipe

I've been drinking coffee for as long as I can remember.  Seriously, I have memories of my mom giving me a little bit of espresso before I would go to kindergarten!  This may surprise a lot of you, but to many Cubans like my family, coffee is just about as common as water.  It's how you greet someone when they come over.  It's how you spend time with family after a large meal.  And it's also how Cuban grandparents spoil their grandchildren! (Café con leche...mmmmm)

Cubans are very proud of their espresso, just like many other espresso- drinking cultures. I remember my grandmother, Mima, always had her espresso cups and saucers displayed right in the middle of the dining room table year-round (safely displayed in the middle as the dining room table always seemed to be what my cousins and I would run around).   Mima's espresso set was pink and blue.  I never knew if those were her favorite colors or if they were gender specific.  Hmmm... either way, those were for very special occasions like birthdays, parties, and, of course, Noche Buena (Christmas Eve).

But it's not always espresso that is handed out.  When you're a kid in the Cuban espresso-drinking culture, you all drink café con leche (coffee with milk- with a lot of sugar).  And you know how you're suppose to not drink coffee after 2 or 3 in the afternoon if you want to go to sleep at night?  That rule was completely non-existent in my family. Both sets of grandparents (who only lived two streets away from each other) would pick me up from school and bring me back to their houses in the afternoons.  Café con leche was there every time! And talk about good...I remember it being the best thing in the world, and so sweet!

I know my grandmothers were just doing what their grandparents did for them, but think about it... their about to watch four or sometimes eight kids at a time (my sister, my brother, and cousins were always there too, duh) and they give them sugar and caffeine.
Crazy right?  No, just Cuban.

Nowadays, I don't have a café con leche every day.  I usually start the day off with a nice espresso or a Café Americano (espresso with hot water).  Patrick and I do have a drip coffee machine, but we never use it (I keep thinking we'll use it one day when we have guests over, but the truth is, our guests usually want the espresso).  And sometimes my morning cup is enough to get me through the day, but there are some afternoons where I just want another pick me up!

In the winter, it's nice to have an afternoon hot espresso or hot coffee to perk you up and warm you up at the same time.  But in the summer, it's just too hot for that.  So, I opt for something iced and refreshing.  I love to drink my Iced Coconut Café Latte on a hot summer afternoon.  It's somewhat inspired by the classic café con leche but it is made with coconut water, so it won't dehydrate you, and it's sweetened with coconut sugar, so it doesn't spike blood sugar levels (you can find coconut sugar at most health food stores).  I make it in the morning and just keep it in the fridge.  By the time I want it, it's nice and chilled.

It's a fun twist on the classic afternoon coffee break.  It may not be the classic café con leche I used to have after school but it definitely does the trick.  It kind of makes me feel like a kid again.

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