Miami's Best Cuban Coffee: Five Places to Fuel Up

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It's the crack of dawn and somehow you are hearing roosters crow though you are nowhere near a farm. You have a crazy morning ahead dealing with an especially difficult client and you realize the rooster you hear crowing is actually your brain periodically sobbing inside your head. A cup of coffee would help, but el Americano no vale.

Coffee is an indelible aspect of Cuban, and by extension, Miami culture. Cuban coffee is usually made from Bustelo or Pilon, both owned by Miami-based Rowland Coffee Roasters, a company founded by a family of Cuban exiles. There is no shortage of places in the area to find an accept­able cup of coffee. But what do you do when just "acceptable" won't cut it?

You visit one of these:

5. La Carreta

Popular for its varying, yet very affordable specials menu, La Carreta has been stuffing patron's faces with delicious Cuban coffee since the first location opened its doors in 1972. Now with eight locations (including an airport café at Miami International) sprawled all over Miami and South Broward Counties, it's even more convenient to get your colada fix. Though not outrageous, La Carreta's prices are slightly higher than the remaining four on the list, but the stuff comes in larger cups.

4. El Pub

Family owned and operated in the heart of Little Havana, El Pub takes you from the streets of Miami to the heart of pre-Castro Cuba in just a few steps. Pictures of 1950's Cuba, a hand-painted mural of the island and baseball posters advertising assorted teams litter the walls. The coffee beans are cooked and ground on the premises for an unmistakably genuine flavor. The coffee and steamed milk always come separate in large cups, allowing you to mix and blend as you please.

3. Isla Canarias

Isla Canarias was founded in 1977 by Raul and Amelia Garcia with the idea of combining everyone's favorite dishes with the unmistakable Cuban touch and their family's original recipes. What resulted was a Tamiami staple that eventually expanded to a fresh bakery with some of the most exclusive and delicious coffee selections in South Florida. The original café is very popular, but if you want to get knocked off your feet, try the house special cappuccino.

2. El Cristo

The ambiance and background music make Little Havana's El Cristo an enjoyable spot for Cuban Coffee. The colada, joe that comes with several small cups to share, at El Cristo stands out as among the best in Miami with its bold, yet sweet flavor. The atmosphere is genuine and the coffee lip-smacking, but don't expect fancy glassware, or, dare we say - whipped cream.

1. Casa Larios

To top this list, you really have to serve something special, and Casa Larios doesn't disappoint. Why is Casa Larios the best place to get coffee in Miami? Try the cortadito, a pre-sweetened blend of milk and coffee, and you'll know why. Nowhere does a cup of coffee go down smoother. The experience is heightened by the ambiance. Live-sounding music blares from the center of the room while patrons stand at the take-out window gossiping about the latest in South Miami. Often served with several small cups, the coffee and restaurant work in hand by encouraging social interaction between diners. At 7 a.m. when the doors open or 11 p.m. closing time, it is always good to enjoy some café at Casa Larios.

-- Kareem Shaker

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