If you’ve never had café Cubano but want to try it, the kind folks at Azucar Cuban Bakery will likely ask that big old, red-flag question: “Are you sure?” Your order may be met with this caution not because this drink is bad, mind you. No, it’s just potent.

“It’s very strong. That’s real café Cubano,” says Francisco Moctezuma, owner of Azucar, which opened late last year. “It is … it will get you.”

The compound that inspires such caution in its purveyors is simply a spoon of demerara (a brown-hued cane sugar) and espresso in a four-ounce cup, a way of taking coffee invented by the island country’s first Italian immigrants. But you’re not dealing with a run-of-mill shot here. Cuban-style espresso is usually made from a darker roast and can be pulled from either a regular espresso machine or the more traditional mocha pot that percolates a small, strong amount of coffee on the stove. At Azucar, the coffee comes from Cuba and is roasted on-site. “I want to have it as fresh a taste as possible for the people,” says Moctezuma.

While Moctezuma says some customers just shoot the café Cubano before hustling to work, the way to truly enjoy the drink is to sip it, maybe over a flaky pastel filled with, say, cream cheese and guava paste or coconut, the richness offsetting the bitter punch of the beverage. Or order it like a few of Azucar’s regulars do: “A Cuban sandwich early in the morning with coffee,” says Moctezuma. “We have no problem with that.”

Azucar Cuban Bakery

Mid-West | 6465 Westheimer Rd, 832-649-7327

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