The Famous Cuban Coffee
If you’ve come across Café Bustelo in your coffee journey or are just learning of the brand now, we’re thrilled to be able to further introduce you to this iconic brand of dark roast coffee.
Coffee lovers all over the world are discovering this unique, pseudo-espresso ground coffee, but it’s far from a new entrant into the world of coffee.
Its roots run deep, and its history is as rich as both the culture it was created to serve as well as the bold flavor it’s famous for.
Let’s take a look at the iconic Café Bustelo blend of dark roast coffee, and we’ll show you how to make Cafe Bustelo at home for yourself with whatever coffee maker you prefer to use.
What is Café Bustelo Coffee?
Café Bustelo was invented by Gregorio Bustelo just short of a century ago in 1928 East Harlem, New York.
Gregorio was a Spanish immigrant with a deep passion for Latin culture and his local community of immigrants from all corners of the Latin world.
Gregorio also had an intense love for coffee and dreamed of owning a roasting company of his very own.
While we worked at a restaurant to pay his family’s bills and save up for his future, he’d been perfecting a special, secret blend of dark roast ground coffee that became commonly known as Cafe Bustelo Espresso.
What Makes Cafe Bustelo Coffee Special?
Cafe Bustelo is beloved not only for its strong, rich and bold flavor of Cuban-style coffee, but primarily because it was created specifically for the Latin community in New York.
Gregorio wanted everyday working immigrants to be able to make Cafe Bustelo easily by themselves at home, using a drip coffee maker or any other coffee maker they might have had access to.
Coffee Available Everywhere
When he eventually saved up enough money to follow his dream, Gregorio opened Bustelo Coffee Roasters on 5th Avenue, allowing him to produce his hand-ground coffee at a larger scale, and focus on getting it into the hands of the community.
He did this by bringing it with him and personally selling it to small Latino grocery stores and more notably, the countless bodegas that were—and still are—fixtures of the Latin community in New York.
Growth and Expansion
While Café Bustelo is still massively popular with the Latin community, it found mainstream appreciation around the turn of the century, as local artists and hipsters discovered the brand and became drawn to its authentic origins and unique coffee taste.
It was acquired three times in a series of mergers and acquisitions since the turn of the century and is now owned by the J.M. Smucker Company.
However, it’s still aggressively true to its roots in the Latin community, and the brand is active in community-targeted philanthropy.
It runs an annual scholarship program for Latino students across the US, through which it’s distributed over half a million dollars to 110 students since its inception in 2014.
How to Make Café Bustelo Coffee Like in the Old Days
In the beginning, Café Bustelo found the most acclaim amongst immigrants from Cuba, whose tastes strongly leaned toward espresso roasts, and who preferred to brew Café Bustelo in an espresso machine instead of common filter coffee makers that were popular at the time.
So as for how to make Cafe Bustelo as it was enjoyed when it got its start, using an espresso machine would be a great way to achieve an authentic Café Bustelo cup of coffee.
Is it Truly Cafe Bustelo Espresso?
No. Despite actually being labeled Café Bustelo Espresso to this day, Café Bustelo isn’t quite as robust or concentrated as a true espresso shot.
Make Cafe Bustelo in a Drip Coffee Maker
Of course, not everyone in 1928 or the 1930s had access to an espresso machine, so plenty of early customers were happy to make Cafe Bustelo using drip coffee makers, a pour-over coffee maker, or a stove-top coffee maker like a Moka pot.
A Word of Caution
If you want to make Café Bustelo in a drip coffee maker, you may end up with some of the finely ground coffee making its way through the drip coffee maker reservoir into your cup.
You can control this drip coffee by using an ultra-fine coffee filter or by opting for whole bean Café Bustelo which you can then grind yourself to a coarser level.
Can You Make a Café Bustelo in an Espresso Coffee Machine?
Absolutely! And it’s in fact probably best off being made this way.
Since Café Bustelo is a finely ground coffee (unless you purchase it as whole coffee beans, which is also an option), this is likely the best drip coffee maker to do the job.
As a bonus, as we mentioned above, this is one of the most authentic instructions for how to make Bustelo espresso Café as it was originally intended to be brewed.
Can Café Bustelo be Made in an AeroPress?
Yep! You can totally make Cafe Bustelo using an AeroPress coffee maker.
Since AeroPress is designed to work with medium-fine ground coffee and water, it’s an ideal choice for Café Bustelo recipes.
Not to mention, the AeroPress is a device that uniquely allows for espresso-style coffee even without true espresso or an espresso maker.
Can Café Bustelo be Made in a French Press?
Yes, you technically can use a French Press coffee-maker to prepare, brew coffee Café Bustelo, but there’s a caveat and a trick we’d recommend.
The French Press tends to allow a decent amount of coffee grounds into your coffee cup no matter what you choose to make in it.
As Café Bustelo ground coffee is particularly fine by default recipe, you’re likely to wind up with quite a lot of coffee grounds in your coffee if you buy the pre-ground coffee you’ll most commonly find at most grocery stores nowadays.
But Café Bustelo now also comes in whole beans which you can grind yourself.
Choosing that recipe option will allow you to achieve a coarser grind size that will be much better suited for a French Press.
Other Instructions to Make Café Bustelo Coffee
Fortunately, there’s really no wrong way to make Cafe Bustelo, and there are plenty of other options you can try out to enjoy on your own.
Just be aware of the cafe grind size you’re working with and adjust accordingly if needed.
You Can Also Make cafe Bustelo Using:
A Moka pot
An iced coffee maker
A pour-over coffee maker
A Keurig or other single-serve coffee machine
Where is Café Bustelo Coffee Sold?
While it got its start in local corner bodegas and independent supermarkets in urban Latin communities, nowadays Cafe Bustelo is everywhere.
You can buy it directly from their website, at most large chain supermarkets, independent grocery stores, and through other online channels like Amazon.
Different Forms of Cafe Bustelo Coffee
Cafe Bustelo has come a long way as a company in the nearly 100 years it’s been on the market for.
Thankfully, while staying true to its roots and distinctive coffee taste, it’s also expanded greatly in terms of the different forms you can buy it in.
While you’re still most likely to find the classic yellow can of ground Café Bustelo Espresso at your local supermarket or bodega, nowadays the company also sells all of the following variations:
Different Forms of Café bustelo espresso
Whole coffee beans
Ready to drink
Various roasts amongst all forms
Spice Up Your Cafe Bustelo!
That robust, dark roast flavor characteristic of Cafe Bustelo is wonderfully strong and makes enjoy a perfect cup just as it is.
However for some people, add it may taste a bit too rich or bitter, and even if you find the coffee tastes excellent right out of your drip coffee maker, it’s still wonderfully complemented by either warm milk or—if you’re feeling fancy—a topping of whipped cream.
This coffee, while special, was designed to be accessible to the masses of the Latin community.
It’s refreshingly not fussy, and one of the best parts about Cafe Bustelo is that it encourages you to make it your own.
So enjoy, and don’t be afraid to play around with your preferred brewing process, coffee maker, or complementary flavorings.
How to Make Cafe Bustelo The Best Way
In terms of how to make Cafe Bustelo, our favorite method has to be using an AeroPress.
We find it provides the perfect balance between simplicity and supporting that Cafe Bustelo signature espresso-style brew.
How Do You Make Cafe Bustelo?
Found a better way to brew Cafe Bustelo that we didn’t mention or focus enough on? Having problems making it in your drip coffee maker or drip Moka pot?
We want to hear about your experiences and suggestions!
Drop us a line and share your tips with us.