Traditionally, a Cubano is a Cuban-inspired espresso drink sweetened with Demerara sugar. Normally, the sweetness helps to balance what is almost always acrid, dark roast coffee. Miami is clearly the United States capital for these drinks, and they’re probably still popular in Havana as well, though I haven’t personally been behind Castro’s curtain yet. At the new, multi-faceted branch of Coffee Commissary, which showcases a sleek steel and wood design across the street from NBC and Clear Channel in Burbank, the Cubano might not be recognizable to Cubans, and that’s probably a good thing.
To start, Coffee Commissary’s Cubano benefits from premium coffee. During my visit, that meant chocolatey Kochere coffee, grown in Chalalacktu, Ethiopia, and fresh-roasted at Coava Coffee Roasters in Portland. The beverage, which has the same proportions as a cappuccino, also contains house-made cinnamon sugar syrup, which mirrors some of the warmth of unrefined Demerara sugar and supports silky Straus Family Creamery barista milk, which a capable barista named Matt treated with an artistic touch.
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