Fill a saucepan with cold water.  

Place on a medium flame, and spoon in Bustelo.

I can’t say how much. They never measured. They just knew. I just know. I ought to: I watched my mother and grandmother do this every day of my childhood, and beyond. 

When you have spooned out enough, begin to gently stir. You want all of the coffee grounds to become drenched.  

Do not look away. It takes only a moment for this to boil over and leave you with no coffee to drink. Que pena.

You will see the crema form a moment before the liquid starts to rise. The very second you see the rising water - rich and brown like beautiful mud - turn off the flame and pull the saucepan off the stove.

 image by the author

image by the author

With one hand, hold the saucepan full of hot water and coffee grounds. With the other, hold the coffee sock high, over a second, empty saucepan.

Pour the liquid into the sock. Slowly, so that the coffee has time to drip through the muslin. Too fast, and it will overflow. Otra pena. 

When most of the coffee has dripped through, let the coffee sock, full of wet grounds, rest in a mason jar. A bit more coffee will drip out over time, and this will capture it.

Take the saucepan with the coffee and top off a mug that is ⅔ full of boiled milk.  

Two sugars. It tastes like every single thing I remember. Brujeria sagrada.


- Lana Nieves is a Puerto Rican writer from Brooklyn, NY. She started drinking cafe con leche,  while sitting on her mother's lap, at her grandmother's kitchen table, when she was three years old.