Café Bombón – Spanish Coffee with Condensed Milk

Café Bombón – Spanish Coffee with Condensed Milk

Looking more like a shot you would order in a bar than in a cafe, the café bombón is a delicious after dinner treat – even without alcohol.

I first came across this particular espresso beverage in the Mallorquina, which is, in my opinion the best pastry place in Madrid. Though some would say its central, Puerta del Sol location makes it too touristy, an overwhelming number of Madrileños head there every morning for their café con leche. But not for a café bombón – I do not ever see the city denizens order this in the mornings.

Is it a touristy beverage? Perhaps. But I prefer to think that it is more appropriate for a meal closer than a morning opener. It is the perfect (and perhaps the quickest and most simple and elegant) way to combine dessert and après-dinner coffee course into one item.

What makes the bombon such a treat is the sweetened condensed milk. Do not think that makes this drink too decadent, because I have found many low-fat and fat-free options at the local chain grocery store. Look for a very small can in either the baking or Mexican food section of your supermarket. I have not figured out an adaptation for my lactose-free guests, though, unfortunately. But I’ll let you know if I do.

The key to the elegant look of this beverage is to serve it in a clear glass – a tall (double) shot glass if available or a normal glass espresso cup in a pinch. How many other opportunities do you have to use all those shot glasses you saved from college at a fancy dinner? (Just try not to use ones with lewd logos or off-color expressions.)

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 6 (depends on the size of your espresso maker)

Ingredients

  • espresso grounds (I use Costa Rican, as I find it produces the best flavor with the water in New England)
  • filtered water
  • condensed milk

Method

  1. Fill the bottom of your espresso maker a half to quarter inch from the lip on the top.
  2. Drop in the part that holds the espresso. If bottom hits the water, dry it off and pour off a little bit of the water.
  3. Fill the filter about half or three quarters full with espresso. I usually just carefully pour it from the bag, but you can also spoon it in.
  4. Using a large flat spoon (or a proper tamper if you have one), pack the espresso down as tightly and evenly as you can.
  5. Fill the filter to the top and pack the espresso in again.
  6. Screw on the upper half of the espresso maker and set it over medium-high heat. If the heat is too low, the water won’t evaporate and steam through the espresso grounds.
  7. In the meantime, put out the number of shot glasses and espresso cups that you need.
  8. Quickly and carefully fill each glass one third full with condensed milk. It is actually better (and less messy) to pour the condensed milk in and catch the drips at the end with a spoon, rather than put it in spoonful by spoonful.
  9. After four or five minutes, liquid espresso will start condensing and spurting through the spout and filling the top half of the espresso maker. You should be able to hear it. Don’t turn down the heat until almost all of the water has steamed through.
  10. Once the espresso has finished, pour some into each cup so they are two-thirds full.

Tip: If you have a lot of guests and are worried about running out of espresso, it is best to fill each cup halfway to make sure that everyone gets one, and then go back and top each glass off with the remaining espresso.

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