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Cafe Cubano: A Unique Take on the Stand-up Espresso | Food Pilgrimage: A Food Writer's Quest for the Greatest Meals on the Planet

Cafe Cubano: A Unique Take on the Stand-up Espresso

You walk up, you pay your $0.75 you take a spot next to the other well-heeled business folk and strike up a conversation about weather or sports or light-weight politics. In a flash, a tiny, steaming-hot espresso is dropped in front of you. Jet-black with a cap of blonde crema and sugar steamed right into the shot. Milan? Bordeaux? Nope. You’re in the D terminal at Miami international airport; and thanks to the influence of nearby Cuba, one of the few places in the states where an espresso on the go doesn’t garner a raised eyebrow and come luke-warm in the bottom of a giant white paper cup.

The bar-served espresso is one of my favorite rituals. Ubiquitous throughout Europe and South America, where any time is a good time for a pause in the day. In the US, such a luxury is a victim of the “eat-while-moving” and “bigger is better” mentality. The very same that gives us “wraps” and energy shakes and other food devices packaged as to be consumable while driving and texting.

I am known to lament the lack of this ritual quite vocally and am notorious for making the airport espresso bar my last stop when leaving Italy, France or Spain. so finding the occasion here in Miami is quite a treat. Next time you face the opportunity for a coffee, rather than fumble with lids and creamer, and Vente versus Grande, ask for an espresso, insist on a porcelain cup and enjoy it right at the machine, leaning against the counter, striking up a conversation with the green-apron person. You may get looks, you may get asked to move, but if you can pull it of, it may be the most relaxing 3 minutes if your day.

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