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Café Cubano. A Picture Worth a Million Bucks.

Cuban Coffee Single

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA for the past 12 days or so. I’m becoming this kind of popular gal in town which is causing me to be rippin’ and runnin’ like a fool chasing the jerk that stole Louboutins off my foot!

My sis was in town for a whole week during the 4th, which allows me to shut down and focus on her, only. Then, I was in Tampa last week taping two more segments for Daytime TV. I’ll have those two vids up in the next couple of weeks. To get an idea of the segments, feel free to watch the current vid under Flanboyant TV.  I make a high yum factor lemon almond flan in that one. Had a great time, despite the monsoon rain. So, between two highly exciting events, I’ve had no time to write.

But, I’m here to redeem my absence, because I’m really not that popular.

I haven’t had time to cook so I went to the archives. These aren’t just any ol’ archives of either failed food shots or recipes I really have been wanting to share, and just haven’t. Rather, the archives of professionally shot pictures for my cookbook! I’ve not talked much about the progress of it, quite frankly because I’m so behind schedule and still negotiating a deal.

So this post is in part a tease on one of the entries. But, also a brief discussion on the bitches of photography! I hand all sorts of accolades to you pro photogs. You bear patience, skill, precision and an eye; something I don’t care to own at this point. I can’t even keep up with my Fujifilm battery charger, let alone take a drool worthy shot. I give special shout out to Michael Ruhlmans’s wife, Ben over at What’s Cooking and Bea over at La Tartine Gourmande, for their effort and screen-biting shots.

Styling is another thing. That’s more up my alley. I’m a girls girl and like primping and beautifying things. Aesthetic appeal is key.  It’s like the shoe effect. If my shoes aren’t right, who the hell cares my outfit came right out of Gucci’s boutique? You understand, right. The subject dish could be the best thing ever, but if the styling, set up and ultimate picture isn’t right, who the hell cares the food is good? Trust me, I know about this all too well. I even hate to admit that on this very blog, there have been some questionable shots; especially in the very early posts. This is an example of really good dish, picture gone way wrong! And this is a picture of styling gone right!

So with the help of my fashionable friend Dave, my book shots look really pretty. In fact, he makes anything I do, really pretty. Enter now this Cuban coffee shot. Basic. Almost nothing, right. Just a teacup of black espresso. But, the elements, including, lighting, depth, angle, etc.. make this espresso picture look more than just liquified roasted beans! I will take credit for set design, however. Taken in my parents backyard, we were able to use that sketched bench for placement, and then all the little details; like the very, very old and rustic looking espresso maker. I think that thing is as old as I am.

Cafe Cubano Single Long

Makes the best damn coffee, though!

After 3 hours and 2 batches of espresso, here are 2 different pictures (tho there are maybe 100 total). Yes, this is a tea cup, but I wanted to demonstrate the various ways one could have it. And, this is double, so a traditional coffee mug isn’t appropriate. And a demitasse wouldn’t have been big enough.

Plus, the antique red saucer and cup are so pretty.

Do you see the differences? For one, keeping foam in it was hard as hell, as it quickly dissipates. Luckily, I had one of those mini, electric cocktail hand whisks, which by the way works wonders! Instant foam! Food porn comes to mind.  The other issue was background stuff. Do I keep it simple with just half the old and tattered espresso maker and subliminal vintage picture of my mom as a teenager, the one responsible for my addictive indulgences; or do I show the entire espresso maker with the greenery?  I personally like the one on the left, but notice how the plate of raw beans is over exposed! While the picture on the right doesn’t have good foam!

What do you think?

Cafe cubano comapracion

Or, I could just crop the above-right picture to get the perfect effect, as shown in the 1st picture of this post (and now below).

I did the black and white for the hell of it. I kind of like it because it takes away distractions and gives it character.

 Café cubano blanco y negro

But what I want to know is, does these pictures entice you to buy and make a cup of Cuban espresso!?! Did we do it justice?! I want to know your thoughts and ideas!

Of note: we typically drink our espresso, straight up black, with LOTS of sugar.  A crack addicts amount.  On the rare occasion I’ll sip it like that, but I must have mine with steamed leche. Mami thinks I’m gross for it, but nothing like a hot cup of café con leche first thing in the morning. For the book, I wanted to use the purist approach. Some things deserve to be represented in bona fide Cuban tradition. Cuban mornings aren’t Cuban mornings without a minimum of 3 shots.

Just shots.

Here, take a sip!Enjoy a basic un poco de Café Cubano! A pretty one thanks to Dave of RH Photography!


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84 thoughts on “Café Cubano. A Picture Worth a Million Bucks.

  1. OK, first of all, the website is GORGEOUS! Flippin’ the 9to9 won’t upgrade my browser so I can’t read it there *sigh*

    Secondly, coming from the coffee addict here, that photo – love it! Hell, if I could make it my screensaver, I would. Remember, you need to visit Philly after the move 🙂 And teach me how to make cafe con leche.

  2. Yes, I think your photo makes me want to drink a cup of cuban coffee. It really pops! I was watching the food stylist challenge on Food Network last night, and one stylist uses soap to create the bubbles that would last on her orange juice.

  3. The photos look great. Despite the beans being overexposed in the first shot I think that’s the best one. The foam kind of adds a depth to the coffee.

  4. Marc: Hi! Yes darling, coffee can be soo enticing and so pretty if done right! Sip.

    Rosa: Thanks, woman. Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for the entire thing. I styled it though! 🙂

    Ninette: Ooh, soap! No!! I love that mini hand wisk! Works wonders!

    Tbowen: Great point!

  5. I would have cropped the coffee on the left and replaced the cup on the left with it.

    I love the black and white.The tea cup is beautiful and show cases the coffee…almost upstages the coffee…in the black and white it’s all about the coffee.

    The pic of your mom…Beautiful lady.

  6. sorry…replaced the cup on the right with the cropped pic of cup on the left LOL

  7. thank you for telling people her in the USofA how to make a good cup of coffee(sorry to be a coffee snob but Dunkin Donuts coffee SUCKS BIG ONES, americans!). the secret really is the stovetop espresso maker. every morning this is how we drink our coffee. i’m always woken up to the sound of jonny pounding the grounds “container” against the trash can, trying to get yesterdays grounds out so he can pack it for today’s coffee. nothing beats the flavor and the strength. and of course all we use is bustelo! hells yeah – i want a cup now!

  8. Eres fabulosa Bren! 🙂

    I just watched your little video and i can tell you what you already know: You’re a natural! Congrats darling.

    I love all the pictures, great job at styling and you make me crave a great cup of Cafe Cubano at midnight. If i drink it now i hope you’ll chat with me on twitter until the wee hours. 🙂

  9. I love the picture on the left however the black and white really does it for me. Beautiful pictures with wonderful depth.


  10. Yes, the add is enticing and does justice for the product. As a matter of fact, before you mentioned it, I thought the picture on the right was cropped and used for the article header. I especially like the aesthetics of the shot: color and emotion; it’s all there. The rustic coffee pot and teaspoon really add character. I think if you had gone wide on the shot, you loose focus on the espresso and it becomes more about where we are than what we’re doing. Well done!

  11. nada como un buen y delicioso cafe cubano, and yes to your question. I’m just about to make a nice cup of cafecito thanks to your amazing pictures:-D

    saludos desde Macao

  12. Nice pictures…I have two coffee makers, got them in Italy and love using it…did not realize that cafe Cubano uses the same “machine: 🙂

  13. Tiffany: you should try atleast once!

    Helene: thanks on the tea cup set. Belongs to my mami.

    Chef Julia: I kind of agree. My mom def. has to be in the pic! THanks on her compliment.

    The Duo Dishes: girl, I didn’t take the pics! My photog did!I just styled

    Amy: yes girl how do Americans even drink that stuff! It’s like colored water. It’s disgusting. I loooove that you know all about that tap against the trash can or kitchen sink!

    Noobook: sure is, right!

    Zenchef: i like you already, as you know! we’ll have to continue sipping already.

    3Piece: Thanks J!

    BelliniValli: ooh better idea! Great thinking!

    GinaMarie: can you believe that rustic coffee maker still works and yields the most robust of cups! Love it!

    Heidi: ay que rico, verdad! no hay nada como un cafesito bien tiempranito!

    Juliana: Yes, we sure do use the same ones. I have about 3 and they all look different! I’m so addicted.

  14. Beautiful photographs Bren… love the composition, the cup, texture of the table… everything about them 🙂
    It really makes me want to have a cup of black coffee now… and I never drink it black (only when I don’t have milk in the fridge).

  15. Just found your site. I used to sit in my abuela’s cocinita while she made cafe and prepared her sofrito for the next few days (she let me sample it on fresh Cuban bread, yumm!) You brought back a lot of happy memories! Thank you!!! Oh yeah, and now I’m really yearning for some home- cooked cuban food topped off of course with un cafecito!!!

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