How to Make Cuban Coffee at Home

cup of tea

Not everyone has the privilege of taking a plane ride to Cuba to savor authentic Cuban Coffee.

It is an espresso shot that is sweetened by brown sugar and together it presents a sweet but bold coffee flavor. If you are used to having coffee on the milder side, you’ll be surprised at how bold the flavors are even with sugar in them.

If you have not yet been to Cuba but would like to have a taste of what Cuban coffee is all about, you can try making it at home.

Cuban coffee, or Cafecito, only takes more or less 20 minutes to make and has very simple ingredients – dark roasted coffee grounds, sugar, and water.

I will be covering how you can make a delicious cup of Cuban coffee in the comfort of your own home. So, let’s get into it!

In this article:

  • Ingredients Needed
  • Equipment Needed
  • Step-by-step Guide on How to Make Cuban Coffee
  • Tips for Making Cuban Coffee
  • Variations of Cuban Coffee
  • Foods that pair well with Cuban Coffee

Cuban Coffee Ingredients

instant coffee

To make Cuban Coffee, you will only need three (3) ingredients.

  • Finely ground coffee. For a more authentic taste, you can use Cuban ground coffee but any dark roast coffee grounds will work.
  • Cuban coffee beans (optional). If you like grinding your own coffee beans, you can also do so.
  • Brown or white sugar
  • Water

Equipment Needed

stovetop espresso maker

  • Moka Pot. You can also use Stovetop Espresso Makers in a pinch if you don’t have a Moka Pot.
  • Stainless steel silver bell creamer pitcher. This is optional if you feel a little fancy but a regular measuring cup will do. Make sure the measuring cup is large enough to mix
  • Demitasse cups. These are small coffee cups that are typically used for espresso and are smaller than regular coffee cups. You can always use your regular coffee cup.
  • Coffee grinder (optional). If you are using Cuban coffee beans, you need a coffee grinder to grind the beans into a slightly coarse powder.

Step-by-step Guide on How to Make Cuban Coffee

different coffee brewing methods

Cuban coffee is easy to prepare and does not take a lot of prep time. If you have time to spare, you can make a delicious cup of Cuban coffee in less than 30 minutes.

  1. Fill your Moka pot, or espresso maker, with water and ground coffee. Make sure that the lid of the Moka Pot is closed
  2. Place the Moka Pot on your stovetop and brew the coffee according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t let the handle go directly on top of the open flame as it can burn. Let the Moka Pot sit slightly on one side of your burner.
  3. Add one tablespoon of sugar to a creamer pitcher or measuring cup.
  4. Once your coffee has just started brewing a little bit, take the Moka Pot and pour a little bit of coffee into the pitcher/measuring cup.
  5. Place the Moka Pot back on the stove to finish the brewing.
  6. While waiting for the coffee to brew, stir the sugar and coffee mixture until it gets to a pale thick foamy consistency (espuma).
  7. Once your coffee is finished brewing, carefully pour the brewed coffee into the measuring cup.
  8. Stir the coffee and sugar mixture together.
  9. Transfer the coffee mixture into your demitasse cup and enjoy a cup of Cuban coffee!

If you are using demitasse cups for your Cuban coffee, you might think that one tablespoon of sugar may be too much. However, Cuban coffee is actually sweet. Brown sugar is typically used to create that sweet thick, syrupy texture.

Tips for Making Cuban Coffee

If you are making Cuban coffee at home, you most likely want to produce a cup as close to authentic Cuban coffee as possible.

Here are some tips for making Cuban Coffee at home:

Use the right coffee grounds or beans

Cuban coffee is sweet but powerful coffee and it typically uses darker roasts. Some of the best Cuban coffee brands you will see people use when making Cuban coffee at home are Bustelo, Mayorga, and La Llave.

These coffee grounds have rich aromatics with strong flavors and will give you a full-bodied cup.

Use the right equipment

It can be a bummer if you find a recipe but see that you need special equipment to make it.

However, Cuban coffee tastes the way it is because of how it is made. Moka pots are fairly inexpensive and you don’t need an espresso machine to make a delicious cup of Cuban coffee. A Moka pot is also easy to use and can be a great device for brewing specialty coffees.

Make sure to mix the sugar and coffee well

When making the espuma, make sure you end with a pale, almost light brown mixture as this will add texture to your drink.

Variations of Cuban Coffee

Cafecito, or Café Cubano, is not the only variation of Cuban Coffee. There are also other ways to prepare Cuban coffee aside from mixing sugar and brewed Cuban coffee grounds together.

Other variations of Cuban Coffee are Colada, Cortadito, and Café Con Leche

Making a Colada has the same brewing process as the Cafecito. This version of Cuban coffee is just larger and perfect for sharing with family and friends.

On the other hand, a Cortadito is brewed by using a 1:1 ratio of Cuban espresso and steamed milk as well as sugar. If you want your Cortadito to be extra sweet, you can substitute steamed milk for evaporated milk.

Café Con Leche is also made with a ratio of 1:1 espresso and steamed milk. The difference between Café Con Leche and Cortadito is that Café Con Leche is topped with condensed milk.

Foods That Pair Well With Cuban Coffee

You might disagree but, I think coffee is best consumed when you also have food.

Cuban coffee, despite being sweet, still has a very strong flavor so you might want something to snack on to take away the bitterness of the coffee.

You can pair it with whatever food you are craving but some of the best foods paired with Cuban coffee are ham croquettes, guava pastries, and Cuban sandwiches. These are just light snacks that are not heavy on the stomach so you won’t be feeling too full that you won’t finish your coffee.

In Summary

You don’t have to go to Cuba to get a taste of Cuban Coffee. This sweet yet strong coffee can be made in just about 20 minutes in the comfort of your own home.

It does need special equipment and the coffee can’t just be brewed in a regular coffee maker. A Moka pot is needed as it is the one typically used to make authentic Cuban coffee. 

Now that you know how to make Cuban coffee at home, why don’t you go try and make a fresh cup? Happy brewing!


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