Judy's Spanish Coffee


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Turbinado Sugar in Cafe Cubano
mhaithaca /Foter
About 10 years ago, I lived downstairs from Judy, a Puerto Rican woman with 5 kids the same ages as my kids. Since they all went to school together, and I walked my kids every day anyway, I just invited her kids along to save her the trip. Her part of the deal -- she'd have fresh coffee hot and waiting when I got back. The first morning, I got back from the dropoff just as Judy was coming down the stairs with two huge, steaming mugs in hand. We plopped down on the front steps to relax, I took a sip and fell in love. It was deep, sweet, rich and milky with a hint of cinnamon and brown sugar. Needless to say, I had Judy teaching me how to make coffee her way before I picked up the kids at school. I never did get it quite right, but it was still heavenly. 

Judy's daughter lives around the corner from me now. She dropped by recently and I asked after her mother and the family, and then mentioned how much I miss having "Judy coffee." She laughed and told me that she and her husband had bought Judy a coffee maker a few years ago, figuring that her mom might be tired of standing at the stove, stirring the coffee every morning. It's still new in box, and Judy still makes coffee every morning at the kitchen stove. When I mentioned that my coffee doesn't come out quite the same, Frances got this sly smile on her face, leaned in and whispered, "I bet she didn't tell you about the salt. She hates for anyone to make coffee as good as her."

If you like Mexican coffee, or enjoy the luxurious richness of hot chocolate, you'll love Judy's Spanish coffee.

Judy's Spanish Coffee

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup finely ground Spanish coffee 
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-3 tblsp grated turbinado sugar
  • Pinch salt

  • Non-reactive metal saucepan
  • Metal spoon
  • Cafetera (coffee sock)

Combine the ground coffee and a pinch of cinnamon in a small cup. I'm partial to either Cafe Pilon or Cafe Caribe, dark roasted and very finely ground coffees that are popular in East Coast Puerto Rican communities.

In a non-reactive metal saucepan (iow, not aluminum), heat the water over a medium flame until bubbles just start to form around the sides of the pan. 

Dump in the coffee all at once and stir continuously with a spoon for about 3 minutes, keeping the water from coming to a full boil.

Strain the coffee through a cafetra into a small pitcher. Put the pot back on the fire.

Pour milk into the saucepan. Add turbinado sugar and sprinkle a pinch of salt (about 1/8 tsp) over the surface of the milk.

Heat the milk over a low flame, stirring continuously, until the sugar is completely dissolved and tiny bubbles are starting to form around the sides of the pan.

Divide the milk among 4 coffee mugs. Fill each mug the rest of the way with coffee from the pitcher. 

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