How To Make Cuban Coffee (2023)

How To Make Cuban Coffee (1)

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(Video) How to Make CUBAN COFFEE

This tutorial is for anyone who wants to make the sweet, frothy, strong-flavored elixir of life we call Café Cubano. In this post, you will not only learn how to make Cuban Coffee from a born and bred Cuban living in Miami. I will also explain to you why it’s the elixir of life.

Of course, Cafecito Cubano wakes you up in the morning and puts a spring in your step. It’s made from dark roasted beans, and one small shot contains about 2 ounces of coffee and 25 mg of caffeine, plus a good dose of sugar. (One 8-ounce cup of American Coffee has anywhere from 70 – 100 mg of caffeine.) Of course, most of us drink more than one shot of Café Cubano, and we drink it throughout the day. No wonder Cubans talk so fast!! (Yes, yes, we do. It’s not a stereotype.)

How To Make Cuban Coffee (2)

A Little Window Into Cuban Coffee Culture

Cuban Coffee is more than just a morning drink or a shot of caffeine in the afternoon. Café Cubano fuels our culture and connection.

You can see it in the landscape of Miami, a city known for its large Cuban community. If you visit Miami, you’ll find a little coffee window at every Cuban restaurant. Theseventanitasserve Cuban coffee and pastries and snacks (pastelitos, masa real, croquetas) day and night. In fact, you’ll even find aventanitain Publix grocery stores in Latin parts of town!

Theseventanitasare crowded at just about any time of day. In the morning, you’ll find locals getting their little Cuban fix on their way to work. They order one coffee shot for themselves and a colada to go. A colada is a sharing size of Cuban Coffee, but some have been known to drink it all themselves!

Locals congregate at these little windows day and night, drinking their coffee and gabbing. We do love to gab! Guests banter with the attendants and joke with each other as they wait for their Cafecito.You can bet that many a heated conversation about Castro and politics has taken place at these ventanitas over the years!

Cafecito Day or Night

I have to confess I’m not as Cuban when it comes to my Cuban coffee consumption. I enjoy a shot of Cuban espresso in the morning or after lunch, but I can’t drink it in the afternoon because it interrupts my sleep. Those more Cuban than I can drink coffee throughout the day. My stepfather is one of those. He makes coffee several times a day and will drink it even before bed.

Every visit to Mami’s house involves my stepfather making coffee for my hubby and me. And my hubby loves Cuban Coffee, even more than I do. In fact, he won’t go on vacation without bringing ourcafeteraand Pilon café along with our little espresso cups. He forgot it on a recent trip to St. Augustine and had to buy a replacement!

How To Make Cuban Coffee (3)

Cuban Coffee Makers

When you order coffee at one of those little windows at Cuban restaurants, they use a professional espresso machine that pumps out multiplecoladasat once. The attendants spoon generous amounts of sugar into little stainless steel pitchers and the espresso drips in a foamy stream. When it’s served, the coffee has a rich layer of foam at the top that we call espumita (es-pu-mee-tah). This is the secret to great Cuban Coffee!

But this foamy deliciousness (referred to as espumita from this point forward) cannot be achieved as well with run-of-the mill home espresso machines. You can probably achieve the perfect espumita with the more expensive models. But it’s not necessary to go that route when you can buy a Moka Pot Espresso Maker for under $20 on Amazon.

How To Make Cuban Coffee (4)

How To Use A Moka Pot

This the Cuban cafetera I grew up using and still use today. It not only vacations with us, it got us through Hurricane Irma. Our power was out for 6 days during Irma, but with our camp stove, we were able to make Cuban Coffee every morning. Let me tell you, it was necessary!

The Moka Pot has a bottom chamber for water. Inside that chamber is a filter that you fill with the ground espresso coffee beans. When you heat the cafetera on the stovetop, the boiling water rises and goes through the ground beans in the basket and is forced into the top chamber in foamy spurts and then a steady stream of rich, black coffee.

To make Cuban Coffee with the Moka Pot, you fill the bottom chamber with water until just under the safety valve. Spoon the ground coffee into the filter, place the top chamber over the filter, and twist it shut. Turn the heat to high and bring the water in the bottom chamber to boil. You’ll hear it start to boil, and soon after the coffee will spurt out of the top. At first slowly and then in a steady stream.

While the water boils, pour the sugar into a little pitcher or glass measuring cup. The sugar is not an exact measurement, it all depends on how sweet you like your coffee. A good rule of thumb is the same amount of coffee to sugar (be warned, I like mine sweet)☕

Making the Perfect Cup of Cuban Coffee

Espumita is the best part of Cuban Coffee. The secret to great espumita is to take the first spoonful of the foamy black coffee and mix it with sugar to make a creamy, light-colored paste. Then, once the rest of the coffee has brewed, you pour all the coffee onto the creamy sugar paste and mix well. You’ll have the best Cuban Coffee with the perfect espumita!

It’s important that you use the first few drops that come out of the Moka Pot and that all the elements you use are dry. You won’t achieve the same pure foamy goodness if you use a spoonful of the coffee that is produced mid-brew or if there’s any water on the spoon, top chamber of the pot or the mixing pitcher.

I learned this the hard way when I would rinse out the Moka Pot and stainless cup and use it right away without drying it first. No bueno!

How To Make Cuban Coffee (5)

Three Types of Café Cubano

When you walk up to the ventanita at a Cuban restaurant you can order coffee one of three ways:

Café – this is an espresso shot of rich, black, sweetened coffee with lots of espumita!

Colada – a sharing size of café with little espresso cups for sharing. Some just take this to go and drink it themselves 😉

(Video) How to Make Cuban Coffee - Cafe Cubano Recipe (Cuban Café 'Espresso' with Faux Crema / Espuma)

Cortadito – this is an espresso cup-sized coffee made of half espresso and steamed milk, my favorite! Cortadito means the espresso is “cut” down to size by a little steamed milk.

Café Con Leche – this is a shot or two of espresso with steamed milk in a regular-sized cup. Similar to a latte but better 😛

Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m having a café con leche made with steamed evaporated milk instead of regular milk. That’s more calories, but it reminds me of how my mom (aka Bean Train) used to make it for me when I was in middle school.

Cuban Coffee Brands

Cuban Coffee is sold in 10-ounce bricks already ground. The three most popular brands are Café Bustelo, Café Pilon and Café La Llave. My hubby likes the Pilon Gourmet, but my stepdad loves La Llave. I conducted a very unscientific poll at Little Havana’s famous Domino Park and found that most Cuban old-timers prefer Bustelo.

The Most Popular Cuban Coffee Brands

What you’ll need to Make Cuban Coffee

  • Moka Pot
  • Cuban Espresso Beans – Fine Ground
  • Little Stirring Pitcher – you can use a glass measuring cup, but the pitcher is so much more authentic!
  • Sugar – you can use white or brown sugar (I prefer brown sugar)

Want to learn more about Cuban coffee? This Miami Herald Cuban Coffee 101 article is an interesting read.


How To Make Cuban Coffee (9)

How To Make Cuban Coffee

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 3
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: coffee
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Cuban


Learn to make Cafe Cuban like a pro! All you need to make the best Cuban coffee is a Moka Pot and this recipe! Prefer a little milk in your coffee? Try the Cortadito or Cafe Con Leche variations.


3 tablespoons Cuban espresso coffee, ground

3 tablespoons brown sugar ( you can also use white sugar, if you prefer)


Moka Pot:The amount of coffee and water will depend on the size of your Moka Pot. Mine holds about 9 ounces of water, enough for about 4 espresso shots of 2 ounces each.

How To Make Cuban Coffee (10)

Water:Fill the bottom chamber of your Moka Pot with enough water to reach the safety valve.

(Video) Café Cubano (Cuban Coffee) | Cafecito Cuban Style Coffee | Moka Pot Coffee Routine

Coffee:Fill the coffee filter until it’s full. Pat the coffee down and top off with just a little more. Pat it down so it’s about level. Twist on the top chamber.

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Heat:Set the Moka Pot on the stove top on high heat and wait for the water to boil. You will hear it start to boil. For my size pot, boiling starts after 3 minutes. About a minute after that, you should get your first drips of coffee. This is the coffee you want to use for the espumita. Once the coffee starts to spurt out, you can turn off the heat.

Sugar Pitcher:Once you set the pot on the stovetop. Add sugar to your stirring pitcher or glass measuring cup. Add about the same amount of sugar as you did the coffee. My coffee filter holds about 3 tablespoons of coffee, so I end up using 3 tablespoons of sugar. I like my coffee on the sweet side, though. You’ll have to experiment with it and see what coffee/sugar ratio you like best.

How To Make Cuban Coffee (12)

Espumita (foam):Take a scant teaspoon of the first brewed coffee and add it to the sugar in the pitcher. Stir until you get a rich, creamy paste. It should be lightened in color as you stir. Once the coffee is down brewing, pour it into the pitcher with the sugar paste and stir.

How To Make Cuban Coffee (13)

Espresso Shot:Pour into your demitasse cup and enjoy!

Cortadito:Steam about one ounce of milk and pour into the demitasse cup. Fill with about one ounce of espresso. I like my cortadito light, but others like it stronger and darker. You can alter the ratio to your liking.

Café Con Leche:Steam about six ounces of milk and add to a regular size cup. Add as much espresso as you like. Taste and adjust sugar, if needed.

Evaporated Milk:You can use regular milk or evaporated milk, which is what my mom (aka Bean Train) used to make. If you’re using evaporated milk, you can mix it with water in a one-to-one ratio.


Make sure that all the elements (Moka Pot, pitcher, spoon) are dry before you start brewing. Otherwise, the foam will not be as rich. It will be literally watered down.


  • Serving Size: 2 ounces

Keywords: cuban coffee, how to make cuban coffee, cortadito, cuban cortadito, cuban cafe con leche, cafe cuban

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(Video) How to make CUBAN COFFEE using a Moka pot (no machine required)

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(Video) Making Cuban Coffee in Miami


What makes Cuban coffee? ›

Specifically, it refers to an espresso shot which is sweetened (traditionally with natural brown sugar which has been whipped with the first and strongest drops of espresso). However, the name is sometimes used to refer to coffee based drinks that include Cuban espresso as the main ingredient, such as café con leche.

Can you make Cuban coffee in a regular coffee maker? ›

You can use any coffeemaker in a pinch, but the result won't be as strong as a traditional Cuban coffee. Some brewers like to preheat the water in a kettle to just below boiling. This will extract the coffee faster and prevent the grounds from overheating.

What makes Cuban coffee different? ›

The difference between Cuban and other types of coffees is that a raw type of brown sugar called demerara sugar is mostly used. This results to a slightly thicker drink. It is added straight to the espresso during preparation rather than adding it at the table.

Is Cuban coffee just espresso? ›

Cuban coffee (or café cubano) is a sweet espresso drink made with strong, dark roast espresso sweetened with a thick sugar foam.

Why is Cuban coffee so caffeinated? ›

Cuban coffee has more caffeine than regular coffee because the grind is finer and has a shorter brewing time. A typical cup of Cuban coffee has about twice the amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee.

Does Starbucks make Cuban coffee? ›

Café Cubano Recipe | Starbucks® Coffee At Home. Starbucks® Premium Instant Coffee is the newest instant coffee from Starbucks. Rather than whole bean or pre-ground coffee like you would buy in bags, Starbucks® Premium Instant Coffee is microground coffee made up of 100% arabica beans, all sourced from Latin America.

Why does Cuban coffee taste good? ›

Cuban coffee is renowned for its strong, sweet flavour and thicker texture in comparison to other types of coffee. Traditionally, it's made by combining sugar with the finely ground strong dark coffee before the brewing starts and it is served in the style of an espresso blend.

Is Starbucks espresso Cuban? ›

Starbucks DoubleShot Cubano Premium Espresso Beverage.

What kind of milk is used in Cuban coffee? ›

Cafe con Leche (Cuban Coffee with Milk) is a morning beverage made with strong, brewed Cuban espresso, steamed whole milk, and sugar to taste.

Does Keurig make Cuban coffee? ›

Keurig Cafe Bustelo Coffee Espresso K-Cups Cuban (36 Count)

Is Cuban coffee stronger than regular? ›

How Strong is Cuban Coffee? Cuban coffee is about twice as strong as regular American coffee. When properly prepared, it comes out as a thick, unabashedly strong, slightly syrupy brew with a captivating aroma. This richness mainly comes from a unique blend of Robusta and Arabica beans and a special roasting formula.

What beans are used for Cuban coffee? ›

Cuban coffee is made from a careful blend of high-quality Robusta and Arabica beans.
  • Traditional Cuban coffee is made from a careful blend of high-quality Robusta and Arabica beans.
  • Without this specific blend of coffee beans, the famous “crema” will not form.
  • The thick, syrupy mixture of Cuban coffee is unique.

What is a shot of Cuban coffee called? ›

Cafecito or Café Cubano: The Cuban version of espresso, a cafecito is a small shot of strong coffee with sugar.

What's the world's strongest coffee? ›

Biohazard Ground Coffee, The World's Strongest Coffee 928 mg Caffeine (16 oz)

Can I make Cuban coffee with an espresso machine? ›

Appliance – Café Cubano can be made with an electric espresso machine – which is what you'll find in restaurants and cafeterias. But, at home it's typically made with a stove top coffee maker called a Moka Pot. In Spanish it's called a cafetera.

Can Nespresso make Cuban coffee? ›


We are also happy to introduce Café de Cuba for Vertuo, made from 100% Cuban Arabica; it has been expertly roasted, so that it can be extracted with your Vertuo machine to deliver a much larger cup (7.7oz) and retain the rich aromas and intense flavor that is characteristic of traditional Cuban coffee.

How many shots of espresso are in a Cuban coffee? ›

In order to whip yourself up a Cuban coffee you will need: two shots of espresso, espresso grounds like Pilon or La Llave and one eighth cup of sugar.

What kind of sugar is used in Cuban coffee? ›

¼ cup sugar: You can use either white or brown sugar. White sugar has a cleaner taste, so you'll get more of the coffee flavor. Brown or demerara sugar, which are more popular in Cuba, yields a thicker foam and a sweeter drink with more of a molasses flavor.

What do you call Cuban coffee in Miami? ›

For something along the lines of a shot of espresso, order a cafecito (sometimes referred to as café Cubano). Don't be fooled by its petite size; this sweetened shot of Cuban coffee packs a punch that will get your juices flowing. A cortadito is in the same family as the cafecito and similar to a macchiato.

What alcohol is in Cuban coffee? ›

Featuring dark rum (preferably Cuban) alongside flavours of sweet vanilla and coffee. Adapted from a recipe on Cocktail Collective.

Is Cafe Bustelo Cuban or Puerto Rican? ›

Café Bustelo is a beloved Cuban-style café that became a staple among Cuban immigrants in New York City and then made its way into the homes of Puerto Rican and Dominican immigrants, and then everyone else.

What kind of coffee is Cafe Bustelo? ›

Using a secret blend of coffee beans, Gregorio crafted the beloved, rich flavors that consumers now recognize as Café Bustelo, an authentically Latin, espresso-style coffee. In the beginning, he sold his hand-ground coffee to local East Harlem theater patrons, with the hopes of running his own roaster someday.

How do you make Cuban coffee without an espresso machine? ›

The process is very easy if you follow these simple steps!
  1. Unscrew the lid of the Moka pot.
  2. Fill the bottom of the Moka pot with as much water as you would like.
  3. Moka pots have a “filter” which you will fill with La Carreta ground coffee. ...
  4. Seal tightly and place on the stove over medium heat.

How do you whip sugar for Cuban coffee? ›

Put the sugar in a large glass measuring cup and add 1 tablespoon of the hot espresso. Using a small whisk, beat the sugar with the espresso until pale and thick and nearly dissolved, about 1 minute.

How many cups of coffee are in a Cuban coffee? ›

The most common coffee drink in Cuba, a four oz. coffee combined with the sugar foam we've already mentioned generally served in cups only slightly larger than espresso cups. It's less than a standard cup of coffee, but the brew is strong enough and sweet enough that 4 oz is sufficient for any coffee lover's needs.

How much milk do you put in Cuban coffee? ›

Directions. For Café con Leche, simply use 2 parts Cuban Coffee to 1 part steamed milk. You can also use an espresso machine instead of a stovetop coffee pot. Just follow the instructions.

What are the names for Cuban coffee? ›

You don't just order a café Cubano, or Cuban coffee. There are four types. Cafecito, Colada, Cortadito and Café con leche. Now they all have Cuban coffee so you have to know which one you are ordering.

What is the difference between espresso and Cuban coffee? ›

What's the difference between espresso and Cuban coffee? Basically the coffee is brewed similarly, but with Cuban coffee demerara sugar is added prior to brewing. Sometimes the initial drops of espresso are mixed with sugar to create a paste and then the rest of the coffee is poured into the cup.

What's in a Havana coffee? ›

Sweet, bold, and lightly spiced, our Havana Cappuccino begins with hand-pulled Espresso Forte and sweetened condensed milk. They're swirled together before being topped with creamy steamed milk and a hint of cinnamon. Expertly crafted and made to order.

What is the most popular drink in Cuban? ›

One of the most famous Cuban drinks, and one of the most famous cocktails in the world, the Mojito is usually made with rum, sparkling water, sugar, lemon juice, ice, and mint.

What is the strongest coffee at a café? ›

The coffee brand that has the most caffeine content is Biohazard Coffee, with 928 mg of caffeine per 12-oz. mug.

Is Cuban coffee good for you? ›

And this is because Cuban coffee, like other types of coffee beans, contains caffeine in its chemistry. And this substance tends to increase the levels of energy in the body, because it acts directly on the nervous system. So the body is reflected in less tiredness, greater concentration, and high energy levels.

How long does Cuban coffee take? ›

Add 5 oz of water in the bottom chamber of the Moka Pot. Place on the stovetop at Med-Low heat. Keep the lid of the Moka Pot open to keep an eye on your espresso, it should take 8-10 minutes to brew. Pour the desired amount of sugar or condensed milk into your mug.

Does Cuban coffee have condensed milk? ›

Make sure to allow time to prepare this iced Cuban coffee. It “brews” overnight. It's made extra delicious by sweetening with sweetened condensed milk.

What is Cuban coffee with condensed milk called? ›

Cuban coffee—whether it's a cortadito (espresso with steamed evaporated milk), a café bon bon (espresso with sweetened condensed milk) or colada (an espresso drink meant to be shared)—came out of having to do more with less.

What are the 3 layers of a shot of espresso called? ›

3 parts of an espresso shot. Crema, Body, Heart.

How do you make coffee in 3 steps? ›

Basic steps to make perfect coffee:

Grind coffee beans to medium or medium-fine grind size. Bring filtered water to a boil, then let it sit for a minute. Pour enough water into the filter to wet it completely, and let it drain into your cup or coffee pot. Discard the water.

What are the golden rules of making coffee? ›

A general rule of thumb or the golden ratio is one to two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. Adjust this ratio per your taste preference. You can buy a measuring cup for more accurate measurement. Without question, coffee is best when used within days of being roasted.

What method makes the best coffee? ›

The French Press method, invented in 1929, is widely considered as the best and easiest method for brewing superior and consistent coffee. It extracts, arguably, more superior flavours than any other method.

How do you make good coffee for beginners? ›

“You should start brewing your coffee with a simple 1:15 ratio (1 gram of coffee for each 15 grams of water). After pouring your water onto the coffee grounds, you wait for four to six minutes and then drink. However, if it's too hot, lower the water temperature and experiment with that.”

What machine do you need to make Cuban coffee? ›

Traditionally, a moka pot is used to brew this beverage: extra fine ground moka pot coffee is used and it gets all prepped up and put on the stove, much like a standard Italian moka pot is done. Then the Cubans go a bit of a different route after firing up the flame.

What is the little shot of Cuban coffee called? ›

Cafecito or Café Cubano: The Cuban version of espresso, a cafecito is a small shot of strong coffee with sugar.

Why is my Cuban coffee bitter? ›

The coffee beans in Cuba tend to be a very dark roast, which means the brewed espresso can end up on the bitter side. The sugar foam in the popular drink counters this trait.

Why is Cuban coffee sweet? ›

Furthermore, when making Cuban coffee, spoonfuls of natural brown sugar are whipped into the first few drops of coffee brewed. The resulting thick, syrupy mixture is then put back into the Moka pot, where it mixes with the rest of the coffee.

Is Cuban coffee the strongest coffee? ›

How Strong is Cuban Coffee? Cuban coffee is about twice as strong as regular American coffee. When properly prepared, it comes out as a thick, unabashedly strong, slightly syrupy brew with a captivating aroma. This richness mainly comes from a unique blend of Robusta and Arabica beans and a special roasting formula.

Which is stronger espresso or Cuban coffee? ›

Cuban coffee is espresso, so it's got the same caffeine levels. The difference between Cuban coffee, or cafecito, and regular espresso shots is that it's sweetened during the brewing process. Sadly, adding sweetener at any stage doesn't boost the caffeine content of the espresso beans.


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