04 September 2011

Café con Leche & Old San Juan

It was one of those days. The ones that I'd love spend at the beach rather than going on a coffee expedition. It was over a hundred degrees outside, I could feel the sun burning my skin through my clothes. The hot wind wasn't helping at all. But Old San Juan was calling me.  

San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico, where I live. We call Old San Juan the tiny island on the northeast side that houses all of the historic places in that city.

To get to Old San Juan, you need to cross a short bridge that connects the small island to the rest of the country. You can see the ocean almost from any point, once you're there.

It's characterized by its narrow streets covered in blue cobblestones. The Spanish built the city during the 16th century, after they invaded Puerto Rico.


Calle del Mercado (Market Street), is where the Coffee event was happening today (Sunday). 

Back in 1857, it used to be a market where locals did their food shopping. The ones that could afford it, because extreme poverty was rampant. Coffee was brought there directly from the growers.

Today, it's still a food market, but it only opens on Saturdays.

 Today, the views of the city were a little different than those in the 1850's . The organizers of the event put tables and chairs on the street, for people to sit and relax with their coffee.

Old San Juan still conserves its old buildings. The views are spectacular. A true example of what Spanish Colonial times used to look like in the Caribbean islands.

Although,  these days the city is a little neglected in some areas. 

Inside Museo de San Juan (Museum of San Juan), they had coffee decor everywhere, as well as vendors and several informational workshops for visitors. 

Café con Leche is the traditional coffee drink in the Caribbean (as shown in the first picture). In countries like Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, café is prepared with hot brewed coffee, warm milk and sugar. No fancy preparation or machines are needed. Our ancestors knew the key to great coffee.

I'm going to share with you, the way my great-grandmother used to make coffee. I was eight when she died, she was 96, but she was cooking and taking care of herself until the last day. 

That is what I remember the most from her, the coffee pots in the fogón (an antique fire stove) in her country house.

Follow the three steps below to make traditional Café con Leche. Then add warm milk and sugar to taste. Enjoy your cup of coffee.

In the pictures below, I show the 'sock method'. This is still a widely used method. Although, now you can buy a sock-like strainer at the supermarket.    



Nadia said...

I love the photos of old Puerto Rico, I hope we will visit it one day, it surely is in my "wanted" list :)

The old method of making coffee is exactly like the old one here! I still remember it from my years in university, we used to prepare it like that every single morning... because who had the money to afford a coffee machine :)

myfudo said...

Nice photography! That coffee looks so fine with milk. Enticing!

Karisha@Ruborosa said...

My sister still relies on the "sock method". She says it's the only way to go when making coffee!

The pictures are lovely! We're are lucky to call Puerto Rico our home!

te cuidas, Yad! xoxo

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