How to Make Cuban Coffee at Home (Café Cubano)

How to Make Cuban Coffee at Home (Café Cubano)

Cuban espresso is a traditional dark roast espresso that’s popular in Cuban coffee industry. It’s made with a unique blend of Cuban-style coffee beans and has a strong, rich flavor.

Cuban coffee is typically served in small espresso cups and often sweetened with a thick sugar foam called espuma (delicious foam with sugar).

While you can prepare this coffee using various espresso-making methods, traditional Cuban coffee is made in a Moka pot.

Moka pots are small stovetop coffee makers that brew coffee by passing hot water and steam through ground coffee.

If you don’t have a Moka pot, don’t worry! You can still make Cuban coffee using other methods.

In this article, I’ll show you how Cubans make coffee with an espresso machine, without an espresso maker, on the stovetop, and even using a French press.

Keep reading to learn all about Cuban espresso and help you learn how to make Cuban coffee at home!

What You’ll Need

Cuban Coffee

To make Cuban coffee, you’ll need the following key supplies:

  • Coffee grounds: You’ll need dark roast beans for this recipe. Cuban-style culture coffees such as Pilon or Café Bustelo are great choices.
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar: Cuban coffee is traditionally sweetened with brown sugar. You can also use white sugar, but brown sugar will give your coffee a thicker foam with sugar.
  • Coffee maker: As I mentioned, you can use any espresso-making method to make Cuban coffee. However, using a stovetop espresso maker will give you the most authentic results.
  • Water: Be sure to use filtered or distilled water for these recipes. This will help to ensure that your coffee doesn’t have any unwanted flavors.
  • Scale: Having a scale on hand will help you to measure the perfect amount of coffee and water for your needs.
  • Demitasse, or small coffee cup: Cuban coffee is typically served in small cups.
  • Spoon: You’ll use a spoon to stir the coffee and sugar together.
  • Creamer or milk (optional): You can add a splash of milk or creamer to your coffee if you like.

How to Make Cuban Coffee Stovetop Moka Pot

If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can still make Cuban coffee using a Moka pot. Here’s how to make Cuban coffee without an espresso maker:

Step 1: Set Up Your Stovetop Espresso Maker

First, you’ll need to set up your Moka pot.

Fill the bottom chamber of the pot with filtered or distilled water.

Then, add coffee grounds (finely ground) to the filter basket.

Make sure to pack the coffee tightly, but do not overfill the basket.

Once the coffee is packed, screw the pot together and place it on the stove.

Fill the bottom chamber of the pot with filtered or distilled water.

Step 2: Heat the Water

Turn the stove to medium heat and wait for the water to come to a boil.

You’ll know the water is ready when it starts to sputter and steam comes out of the top of the pot.

A moka pot placed on a stove with steam coming outside

Step 3: Add Sugar to Your Creamer

While the water is heating up, add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar to your creamer or milk. Stir the sugar until it is completely dissolved. Set the mixture aside for now.

Step 4: Prepare the Espuma

Immediately the water starts to sputter, remove the pot from the stove.

Pour 1-2 ounces of coffee into the creamer or milk mixture.

Return the coffee pot to the stove and whisk the coffee and milk mixture together until it is frothy. This is your espuma.

Moka pot pouring fresh hot coffee into a glass

Step 5: Serve Immediately

Once the coffee finishes brewing, it’s ready to be served.

Remove the pot from the stove and pour the coffee into an espresso or demitasse cup.

Add the espumita on top and enjoy!

Serve Immediately

How to Make Coffee Cuban With an Espresso Machine

If you want to make strong Cuban coffee with an espresso machine, the process is similar to make it with a Moka pot.

Follow these instructions to make Cuban coffee using an espresso machine:

Step 1: Fill Your Espresso Machine’s Water Tank

To start, fill your espresso machine’s water tank.

Then, preheat the machine by turning it on and letting it run for a minute without coffee.

A barista standing next to an espresso coffee maker preparing coffee

Step 2: Grind Your Coffee Beans

Next, you’ll need to grind your coffee beans. Cuban coffee is traditionally made with dark roast Cuban coffee beans, so be sure to use beans that are suitable for espresso.

Grind the coffee beans to a fine consistency.

Step 3: Fill the Espresso Machine’s Portafilter

Once the coffee is ground, add it to your machine’s portafilter.

Pressure Cuban coffee down so that it’s tightly packed, but do not overfill the portafilter.

Tamping is important because it allows the water to evenly extract the coffee’s flavor.

A barista working with tamper and coffee machine holder

Step 4: Add Sugar to Your Creamer

For Cuban coffee, you’ll want to use a lot of sugar – at least 2 tablespoons (30 grams) per cup.

So, if you want to make coffee for 2 people, you’ll need at least 4 tablespoons (60 grams) of sugar.

Add the sugar to your creamer and stir to combine.

Add Sugar to Your Creamer

Step 5: Extract the Espresso

An espresso machine filling two white ceramic mugs with coffee

Place a coffee cup under the portafilter and press the espresso button. The coffee should start flowing into the cup within a few seconds.

Stop the flow of coffee when the cup is about 2/3 full.

Step 6: Prepare the Espuma

While the espresso is brewing, you can prepare the foam or espuma. To make the espuma, add 1-2 ounces (29.57-59.15 milliliters) of coffee to the creamer and sugar mixture.

Whisk the coffee and milk mixture together until it is frothy.

Step 7: Serve Hot!

Once the coffee is brewed, add the espumita on top and serve immediately. Enjoy a piece of toasted Cuban bread!

add the espuma on top and serve immediately

Making a cup of Cuban Coffee With a French Press

You can also make Cuban coffee using a French press. This method is similar to make drip coffee, but it results in a stronger cup of coffee.

Follow these instructions to make Cubano coffee with a French press:

Step 1: Measure the Amount of Water and Coffee

First, measure out the water and coffee that you’ll need.

For a French press, you’ll want to use a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:15.

This means that for every gram of coffee, you’ll use 15 grams of water.

So, if you’re using 30 grams of coffee, you’ll need 450 grams (or about 16 ounces) of water.

Measure the Amount of Coffee

Step 2: Heat the Water

Next, heat the water to a temperature of 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit (90-96 degrees Celsius).

This is the ideal temperature for brewing coffee according to the Specialty Coffee Association.

Step 3: Preheat the French Press


Once the water is heated, preheat your French press by adding a small amount of water to it and swirling it around. Discard the water and add the coffee grounds to the press.

This will help warm the press and keep your coffee from cooling too quickly.

Step 4: Add the Hot Water to the French Press

Hot water plus coffee grounds in a French press

Now, it’s time to add the hot water to the French press. Start by pouring a small amount of water over the coffee grounds. Then, use a spoon to stir the coffee and water together.

Continue adding water until the press is full.

Step 5: Allow the Coffee to Steep

A closeup of a French press coffee maker with coffee inside

Once all of the water has been added, place the lid on the French press and allow the coffee to steep for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, press down on the plunger to filter the coffee.

Step 6: Prepare the Espuma

To make the espuma, combine milk and sugar in a bowl and whisk them together until the sugar has dissolved.

Then, place the bowl in the microwave and heat the milk until it’s hot but not boiling.

Finally, use a hand mixer to froth the milk until it’s light and airy.

Step 7: Pour and Serve

Hand of a person poring coffee into a white ceramic mug using a French press coffee maker

For best results, pour the brewed coffee first into demitasse cups and then add the espuma on top. Serve hot. Enjoy! Try our iced recipe here.


What Ratio of Sugar to Coffee With Cuban Coffee?

Cuban coffee is traditionally made with a ratio of 2 tablespoons of sugar per cup of coffee. However, you can adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste.

What Makes a Cuban Coffee?

Cuban coffee is made with a very strong espresso, which is then sweetened with demerara sugar (a type of raw brown sugar). The sugar is added during preparation, rather than at the table. This results in a slightly thicker drink served in a small cup.

Can You Prepare Coffee Cuban in a Regular Coffee Maker?

Yes, you can make Cuban coffee in a regular coffee maker. However, the coffee will not have the same flavor as it would if it were made with a stovetop coffee maker.

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