Tag Archives: Cafe Cubano

Café and Closure




The first time I met O.D. Churroman was at a Salsa Festival where Willy Chirino was playing.

From the outset, café a lo cubano had been a huge part of our relationship.
After our second date, he demanded I invite him inside and prove my cafecito making skills… or there would be no third date.
In fact, for the longest time I was not allowed to touch his cafetera; he was in charge of the café making at his place.

We had entire conversations about Cuban coffee and, to hear him tell it, he taught me “how to make it better.”
We would send daily pictures of our espuma.
Eventually I graduated to being allowed to make my own cafecito while waiting for him to wake up.

And then he disappeared from my life (just after Labor Day 2011). It took me a long time to recover from being dropped so abruptly, but time heals all wounds and I eventually stopped keeping an eye out for him every time I was in LA. I stopped wondering what I would say if I ever saw him again.

And then there he was.

It was January 10, the night before my brother’s wedding at a Cuban documentary screening. He had to get up and greet me when his cousin, an acquaintance of mine, saw me and came over to say hello. After an awkward hug and exchange about how my dark hair “looked good”, the lights dimmed and the movie was about to start so we all went back to our seats. I didn’t see him after. It felt like a cruel joke from the universe.

And then it was Mother’s Day.
And his birthday.
And I HAD to say something.
So I sent a happy birthday email and appreciated that he wrote back.
I counted it as closure.

And then there he was.

It was the first time I’ve ever been to the free Cuban Festival in Echo Park because I’m usually in Miami for the weekend closest to 20 de Mayo.


Since I have dated my fair share of LA Cubans, I usually expect to run into a few exs at these types of events that I’m still friendly with, but I never expected to see HIM.

There was no escaping the moment; we were heading directly for each other.
A polite greeting, a Cuban hug and kiss on the cheek, and the moment was over.

And then he walked by again, “The line for café is ridiculous!”
“I know! ALL the lines are stupid long! Bueno, have fun!”
And he walked away.

And then he walked by AGAIN, “I’m going to try again.”
“Dale! Bring me one, too!”
He stopped. Turned. Called me over to him and asked, “Excuse me? What was it you called me the other day? Joven?”
“Sure! Yes! Joven! Definitely not viejo!”
And he continued on and I wasn’t sure if I was getting café or not… so I waited to see.

And then walked by again.
And he handed me a cafecito.
And he walked away.
And, with that, our story came full circle.

Salud, chico.

Kikita and the Beautiful Espuma


This morning was just like any other morning.

In fact, the only thing really different about this morning is what a hard time I had waking up.

And, just like any other morning, I did not pass “GO” and I did not collect $200. I went directly for the cafetera and started making my café.

Just like any other morning, it was Taka Taka Time.

But today was suddenly different.

Today the espuma (SEE: foam) was perfect.

And I remembered a conversation with a Certain Stubborn Bear (aka O.D. Churroman) that went like this:
O.D. Churroman: Did you explain that I taught you how to make café?
Me: You did not! I already knew how to make café before I met you!
O.D. Churroman: Yeah, but I taught you how to make espuma.
Me: Did NOT! I already knew that, too!
O.D. Churroman: I taught you how to make it GOOD. You have learned well.
Me: Hmph.

This morning I smiled at the memory, shared the beautiful cuban coffee with my friends, and continued on with my day.

When I checked back in a bit later, one of my friends (who knows nothing of Mr. Churroman) had said this: You have learned well.

I guess there is just no escaping it…

Thank you, O.D. Churroman.
I could never have done this without you. 😉


Creepy Work Guy Asks Me Out


I genuinely believe he is lacking in social skills. That there is something wrong with the way his brain works and that is what adds to his creepiness.

He carries a Batman lunchbox and has somehow made it UN-cool. It takes real talent to make something that is always cool UN-cool. He has that talent.

I have caught him staring at me. With a creepy look on his face.

One day, while making my afternoon café cubano…
Creepy Guy: Kiki, how much time do you spend making coffee every day?
Me: … Would you like to try some?
Creepy Guy: Ok! I was going to ask you to get a drink with me sometime after work, but now we can just have a drink here!
To Myself: *shudder* Thank GOD I didn’t have to deal with that.
Me: HA!

Another time…
Creepy Guy: I love that dress. Did you wear it just for me? Green and black are my two favorite colors.
To Myself: I’m burning this dress the minute I get home.
Me: …
(I really didn’t know what to say.)

And Another time…
Creepy Guy: Hi Kiki! I love your hair like that!
To Myself: I’m shaving it all off the minute I get home.
Me: Thanks.

Last Friday…
Creepy Guy: Nicole! Come here, I want you to witness this. Kiki, will you be my date for the Christmas Ball?
Me: No. *pause* My boyfriend wouldn’t like it.
Creepy Guy: Boyfriend? I heard you were SUPER single.
Nicole: Boyfriend? Really?
Me: Ok, no boyfriend, but no, thank you.
To Myself: Super Single and Super Not Interested. And now I have to find  damned date to this party.

La Virgen de Guadalupe


I love living with my abuela, but some times it is less than awesome.

Last night, I stopped dancing early because I was tired and thought “I’ll go to bed earlier than usual!”

And then I walked through my front door…

The lights were still on.

The TV was on. LOUD. (Abuela doesn’t hear very well.)

It was La Virgen de Guadalupe’s birthday, Saint Day, whatever the hell it is that has Mexicans partying all night and singing the damned “mañanitas” song at Midnight and is all over every Spanish station.

I think somewhere around 2am abuela finally decided it was basically over and she could go to bed.

My one consolation was that I would have a quiet morning because she’d sleep in.

HA! Never!

She was up before me and asking why I wasn’t already making the café when I walked out to make the café.

Virgen de Guadalupe? More like Virgen de Keep Kikita Up Late.

Back to Mambos Cafe


It takes me about an hour and a half to get from the office to Mambos Cafe in Glendale.
WITHOUT much traffic.

There is no cover charge, though. All they ask is that you have a meal. And that is not asking a whole lot because their food is so delicious.

Plus! if you ask for Café Cubano, they’ll give you an already sweetened espresso. Not many Cuban places in Southern California can boast such service.

I’ve been there 4 times. This last time, it felt like I was at a friend’s house for dinner and some other people showed up and decided to start playing their instruments and from there se formo la rumba! It really just felt like a party. The Latin jazz was as delicious as the food.

They treat me like the golden goddess that I am.

“Would you like more café, Kikita?”

“Oye, Kikita, do you know how beautiful you are?”

“Are you cold? Here, take my jacket, Kikita.”

“You’re a beautiful dancer.”

“Do you remember how to get to the freeway from here, Kikita? Why don’t you just follow me?”

“Next time, Kikita, you can just come to my house and I’ll drive you so you don’t have to drive so far by yourself.”

Cartaya’s Enclave will be back at Mambos Cafe on December 13th and they’re doing a Toy Drive.

I’ll be there, but I guess I won’t have to drive myself. 😉

Spilling More Than Just the Beans


I don’t know if it was because I’d had a great work out or if I just had too much on my mind or if it was too cold or what, but sleep was just not happening for me. And it was weird because I wasn’t having that frustrated “OMG, I can’t sleep” feeling.
When my alarm finally went off, I was deep in dreamland, but woke up feeling rested so I know I slept.

I then proceeded to spill …
The coffee beans.
The sugar.
The coffee. (I guess I didn’t tighten the cafetera properly.)

As I looked for tacitas to pour the cafe into, all I saw was one, on the higher shelf. I was a bit confused because it was one of a set that sits on the counter. I grabbed it and … the word “spill” does not correctly convey what happened. The tacita had still been full of yesterday’s cafe, which was now all over:
The counter.
The floor.

Hey, if I’m going to bathe in cafe, I BATHE in cafe.

Abuela (oblivious): Oye, chica, porque tardas tanto con el cafe?