Coffee in Miami

Be Ready To Stand Your Ground!!!

Coming to one of these ventanitas (windows) is not a task to be left in the hands of the soft-spoken and weak! Leave behind your manners and low voices; be STRONG, be LOUD!

At most of the ventanitas you will find the “usuals” standing there having their own cafecitos and chismiando (talking junk) about what Pepito did last night and the next Bingo at Mariaelena’s house. They make themselves at home and tend to walk right up and ask for their coffees. Don’t take it offensively if they cut you in line or speak louder than you; this is just how the cookie crumbles around here… Maybe a quick “Oye, Meng” will let them know you were standing there waiting for your own cafecito too!

Coffee ordering in Miami

Less IS More

If you don’t want to be looked at strange as you stroll over in your prissy high heels and nice ties, try blending in, Gringo! Chancletas (flipflops), a teeshirt and jeans or shorts will suffice. If you want to be part of the Ventanita Familia, ladies, don your low cuts with lots of cleavage and your thong hanging out the back of your pants. The old guys love it and it gives the women something to talk about for the next 20 minutes… or until the next Chonga strolls past with her ‘Viejo’ in arm. It seems demeaning, but it’s just the ventanita culture; would you walk over to a Rasta and ask him to take out his dreads because they look messy? Didn’t think so.

Proper Wording Makes All The Difference

You know how you walk into a Starbucks and you have all these fancy names for fancy coffees and their sizes… well, in the ventanitas of Miami, its not quite so confusing. Here’s what you could have:

• Colada – black coffee served with 4 shot-sized cups; to share or be hogged for a real wiring effect.
• Café or Cafecito – this would be the single serving of a colada. Some may choose this if they want to get wired alone; the more desperate might skip this and just take the colada all for themselves…
• Café con leche – this is for the weaker crowd; it’s typically a shot or two of black Cuban coffee drowned in milk and sugar.
• Cortadito – this is a stronger version of a café con leche and also a bit smaller… you could order it without the milk as well for a more powerful
• Café Americano – Not too popular at the ventanitas, but you could find it at the restaurants around town. Could be a 1 part coffee, 1 part water mixture; at other places it’ll simply be regular coffee made in a coffee maker.

4 And Then…
“Que Mas, Mijita(o)?”

This line, you will inevitably hear; it translates to, “what else, girl/guy?” Attitude only adds to the beautiful Cuban culture you’ve dared to immerse yourself in, if only for 5 minutes. What do you do when you hear this? Go crazy! Order a pastelito, croqueta, flan…! Pastelitos are little pastries filled with all sorts of delights, from guava and cheese to ground beef, even ham and cheese or pizza! Some may prefer a ham, chicken or cheese croquetta (croquette) instead or a little sweet-tooth indulgence like flan. It’s completely up to you and your gut!

As for the cost of all this, you are looking at about a quarter to $1.50 for the coffee and then about the same for a pastry or dessert. Sure beats paying $6+ at Starbucks for the same drink with a fancier name and duller environment, don’t it?

Photos: magnoid, emilio labrador,

FAQs about Ordering a coffee in Miami

What is a ventanita in Miami’s coffee culture?
A ventanita is a window, typically of a cafe or restaurant, where people order and sometimes stand to enjoy their coffee and snacks. It’s a cornerstone of Miami’s Cuban-influenced coffee scene, with lively interactions and a distinct local flair.

How should I dress when visiting a ventanita?
Casual attire is recommended. Flipflops, teeshirts, and jeans or shorts are common. Some people also choose to wear more provocative outfits, but the key is to be comfortable and blend in with the local crowd.

What are the most popular coffee options at a ventanita?
The popular choices include Colada (a strong, black coffee), Café or Cafecito (a single serving of a Colada), Café con leche (coffee with milk and sugar), Cortadito (a stronger, smaller version of Café con leche), and Café Americano (a regular coffee).

Can I get food at a ventanita?
Yes, beyond coffee, many ventanitas offer a range of snacks and treats like pastelitos (pastries with various fillings such as guava, cheese, or beef), croquetas (croquettes with ham, chicken, or cheese), and desserts like flan.

How does the cost of coffee at a ventanita compare to mainstream coffee shops?
The coffee at a ventanita is usually quite affordable, ranging from a quarter to $1.50. This is typically cheaper than what one might spend at mainstream coffee shops like Starbucks.

Why do regulars at ventanitas seem to have a dominant presence?
Regulars at ventanitas are familiar with the culture and etiquette. They have established routines, conversations, and often stand around for extended periods, making them a pronounced part of the ventanita scene.

Is it considered rude if someone speaks loudly or seemingly cuts in line at a ventanita?
No, speaking loudly or moving assertively is part of the ventanita culture. Regulars often engage in lively conversations and might approach the window with confidence. While it may seem unusual to outsiders, it’s just the way things operate in this environment.

Is it necessary to know Spanish to order at a ventanita?
While knowing some basic Spanish terms like “Colada” or “Cafecito” can enhance the experience and help you blend in, many ventanita staff and patrons in Miami speak English, so you can still order and enjoy your coffee without knowing Spanish.



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