Cuban Coffee in Miami

I’m back in Miami and I’ve been craving an afternoon espresso. While in Paris I had at least one each afternoon, so I guess you could say I’m having a little bit of caffeine withdrawal.

It comes as no surprise that the best coffee in Miami is Cuban coffee. I don’t usually put sugar in my coffee, but there’s something about that ultra sweet taste and supercharged shot that really packs a punch. I’ve survived many late nights and early mornings at work because of Cuban coffee.

Thanks to Miami’s large Cuban community, there are great Cuban restaurants and cafés all over the city.

My favorite is a no frills hangout and takeaway spot on Northeast 1st Street, one block west of Biscayne Boulevard, right in downtown. I actually thought it didn’t have a name, until I saw “Café Manolo y Rene” on their takeaway menus. The cafe is open 24 hours a day – and you’ll see people hanging out there 24 hours a day. It has just enough room for a bar and a handful of stools, so the crowd often spills out to the sidewalk.

My favorite drink there is café con leche. Their version is the perfect mix of creamy and sweet, like thick hot chocolate minus the chocolate flavor. And like anything creamy and chocolaty, you may want a drink of water at the end to wash it all down. The combination of caffeine and sugar is just the jump start you need to be going strong for hours.

If you’re hungry this corner café is one of the most wallet-friendly places to eat. There’s a wide variety of sandwiches costing $5.50 or less. My recommendation: skip the Cuban sandwich and go for the medianoche instead. You’ll get a generous serving of ham, roast pork and Swiss cheese, along with that traditional pickle, all toasted on yummy semi-sweet bread. It’s the sweet taste of that bread that I’ll find myself craving. The sweet plus the saltiness of the meat and the acidity from the pickle always makes for a delicious combination.

I’ve found medianoches seem to taste better around medianoche – or midnight, for non-Spanish speakers. When you’re hungry after a night of barhopping or clubbing it’s the perfect snack.