Friday, October 15, 2010

Coffee Drinking Cocker Spaniels and a THIRD RAIL LATTE for Victoria

Maisy Jo, Victoria's
coffee-drinking cocker spaniel.

"Hello Cleo, I am the owner of two 'coffee' (cocker) spaniels! If I walk away from my coffee cup for a second, it's gone! Thought it was because of the half-and-half, but they like it black too? I have a picture on my cell phone of the 14-yr-old Cocker drinking out of my cup. Wish you could see it! Look forward to your next Clare Cosi novel!..I have all of your books and have enjoyed all of them. Pass them on to friends, but I always make sure they are returned to me. Be well." ~ Victoria

Cleo Coyle, sucker for cute
animal pics and author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Isn't that the best note? I received it a few years ago. I wrote back to Victoria, thanking her for the kind words. I also asked her to send along any photos of her cocker spaniels drinking coffee. (As you can see...) She did! Aren't they adorable?

As I said, that was a few years ago. Since then, she and I have connected up on Facebook, where I noticed a happy change in her "status" -- she is now engaged. Congratulations, Victoria!

So what does all this have to do with today's recipe. I'll tell you! On a recent WEDNESDAY, I noticed this post on Victoria's Facebook Wall:

VICTORIA HOWARD: Ok Tuesday is here, feeling relatively refreshed, and hitting ground (yowtch!) running! Have a great day all! Make it the Best Day Ever!
(Reply) STEPHEN: Suddenly, Victoria realizes it is actually  Wednesday...and doesn't feel quite so refreshed anymore....hee...hee...

(more replies and then...)

(Reply) VICTORIA: Maybe I just need more coffee...

(Reply) CLEO COYLE: You have inspired me to create a new coffeehouse recipe: Victoria's Third Rail Latte - guaranteed to shock you into remembering what day it is. Ingredients and directions to come...

And there you have it, the inspiration for today's recipe...


Guaranteed to SHOCK you
into remembering
what day it is...

1/4 cup Cuban coffee (recipe below)
3/4 cup whole milk

Directions: Make Cuban coffee according to directions in video below (and also make note of my tips). Pour 1/4 cup of the Cuban coffee into a mug. Place 3/4 cups whole milk into a small saucepan and warm over medium heat. When milk just begins to simmer, remove. (Note: Warming the milk sweetens it nicely, but at no time should you allow it to boil or it will turn from sweet to scorched.) Pour the warmed milk into the mug with the Cuban coffee. Stir to mix flavors. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!


Dark, sweet, and luscious, Cuban Coffee is a powerful combination of an espresso-type shot combined with sugar in a very easy process that creates crema. The keys to making authentic cafecito are the right ingredients and the proper technique. To learn more about the kind of authentic Cuban coffee drinks you can order when visiting Cuban restaurant in such places as New York, LA, or "North Cuba" (aka South Florida), click here.

A few tips: To make authentic Cuban coffee, you should start with the right brand. The most common Cuban-style dark roasted brands sold in America are Bustelo and Pilon. We go for Bustelo, which is sold pre-ground, in cans, or cute yellow vacuum packed bricks (as shown in pic). If you can’t locate these brands at your store, then substitute a dark roast coffee, ground very fine. OR click here to order from an online Cuban market.

While you can certainly use white, granulated sugar to make this coffee, for the real taste of Cuban, use turbinado sugar (or demerara sugar). This is a natural brown sugar made from partially refining sugar cane extract (as opposed to adding molasses to fully refined sugar, which is how most brown sugar is produced). You can find this product in supermarkets under the brand name Sugar in the Raw.

Finally, while you can brew passable Cuban coffee using double-strength coffee in a drip maker, the Moka Express stovetop method is more traditional, and much better tasting. 

Click the arrow in the window below
to watch a quick video on how to make
Cuban coffee at home...

Drink with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Roast Mortem: 
A Coffeehouse Mystery
Now a National Hardcover
Mystery Bestseller from...
Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime


To get more of my recipes,
win free coffee, or learn

about me and my Coffeehouse Mysteries, visit my *virtual* coffeehouse at:


  1. so funny...

    reminds me of my 47th year. Actually, nothing reminds me of my 47th year, as I forgot it. Just always thought I was 46, then my wife celebrated my 48th birthday and told me I was 2 years older...

    I was so happy in my ignorance

  2. As one of those people who NEVER knows what day it is and frequently still writes "2009" on checks, I'm glad for this recipe! Thanks, Cleo. :)

  3. AYOTG, how funny! I did that too one year. I just don't remember which year. Okay, Cleo, I obviously need this Third Rail Latte too! At least it's a good excuse for indulging in that sweet yummy richness. No dogs here, but my Miss Sarah would be all over that whipped cream!

  4. Those dogs are so cute. I knew a Dalmatian who drank coffee with his people every morning, too. My dogs are interested in the food I eat for breakfast, but fortunately haven't shown an interest in my tea.

    ~ Krista

  5. I loooove cafecitos! I'm 1/2 Cuban ya know. Sugar in the Raw and a good Hispanic percolator is where it's at.

    PS My poodle mix loves coffee and if I'm not careful, he totally steals my cup.

  6. Replies to...

    @Dave of A Year on the Grill Blog - You know, that is an amazing principle of the time-space continuum. Post 40, birthdays get farther and farther apart. I like the way Sinatra explained it: "I just turned 39! Again."

    @Elizabeth/Riley – LOL on the 2009 check-writing. It takes me about 3 months to get the new year in my head, and (on the other hand) with traditional book publishing (where we’re writing a book that’s coming out a year or more in advance), I’m often thinking, “Wait. Isn’t it 2011?”

    More replies to come...

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Replies to...

    @LaineShots – Third Rail Lattes all around. Grinning at Miss Sarah going for the whipped cream. She and my Mr. Fellows would get along famously. (Lady and the Tramp with a shared latte?)

    @Krista – The entire concept of a coffee-drinking dog is still a hoot of surprise to me. As with Laine, my cats will go for the whipped cream, but the java they’ll leave in the cup. Good to know your tea is safe, at least!

    More replies to come...

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  8. Replies to...

    @Juju at Tales of Whimsy Blog – I am floored! Another coffee-loving pup. Grinning about the half Cuban connection! That’s awesome. And so glad you told me about your love of cafecito. Every coffee lover should try one. They absolutely rock. :)

    ¡Hasta la vista!
    ¡Buenas noches!
    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. After reading this recipe to Mr. Nanc it has become our weekend's mission to find one of those espresso makers!! I actually have a pound block of Cafe Bustelo in the cupboard so this gives us a reason to crack it open. We'll be drinking Third Rail Lattes this weekend toasting Victoria's engagement, a lovely Fall weekend and...another good reason for whipped cream!!
    Thanks, Cleo...enjoy your weekend!!

  10. Reply to...

    @booklover (Nanc) - The stovetop espresso maker is a wonderful thing to have - a nice alternative to drip and you can make the kind of bold, dark shots that can serve as a great base for homemade lattes, too. It's also very affordable, not even close to the expense of an electric espresso maker (many of which don't even approach the same temp. and pressure needed to create a pro machine espresso). Moka Express is another animal. Not the same as a pro coffeehouse shot but excellent for Cuban coffee, lattes, and espresso-style enjoyment. :)

    Thanks, again for dropping by the Kitchen, Nanc - You have a great fall weekend, too.

    Java hugs,

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  11. As a night shift worker for 20 years, I NEVER know what day it is! I know the date because I write it in my charting but what DAY it is, nope, no clue.
    Several years ago, I worked with a young man that swore he loved really strong coffee so I bought him a pound of the Cafe Bustelo. The next time I saw him, I asked him if he like it and he replied "Loved it, but it gave me so many PVCs I almost passed out!" For the non-cardiac educated, PVC means premature ventricular contraction, an early beat that feels like your heart did a little trip. Apparently, his heart was doing an entire tap dance! No more Bustelo for him! Nurse JudyMac

  12. Almost forgot! While none of my pets have shown any interest in my coffee, my previous Siamese, Cleo, loved my iced tea. I had to really be on the look out with her because she would sneak up and hook her paw on the edge of the glass then tip it over! Then she would lap up as mush as she could until I got back with a towel to mop up the mess! Nurse JudyMac (what day it it anyway?)

  13. Reply to...

    NurseJudy - YOU are inspiring me to create a PVC Latte. :) I think it's now Saturday. But don't quote me. As a night-owl writer on deadline, the days are starting to blend together again. (Love the tea-spilling feline.)

    Java love to you, NJ, for continuing to do the work of angels,

    ~ Cleo

  14. I can just see the PVC Latte: double doppio with a defibrillater on the side! Nurse JudyMac