This is an authentic Cuban Coffee Recipe, or Cafecito, that will fill your taste buds with a mix of strong espresso and foamy sugar.
The key to a perfect cup of Cuban coffee lies in the preparation. It starts with finely ground dark roasted coffee beans, preferably of Cuban or Latin American origin, known for their bold and complex flavors. The coffee is then packed tightly into the filter basket of the moka pot, and hot water is added to the bottom chamber. As the water heats up, it creates pressure, forcing the water through the coffee grounds and producing a concentrated espresso-like coffee.
At the heart of Cuban coffee is the iconic stovetop espresso maker, known as a "moka pot" or "cafetera." This simple yet ingenious device is used to brew strong and concentrated coffee, capturing the essence of Cuban coffee's distinct character. The aroma that permeates the kitchen as the coffee brews is nothing short of intoxicating.
I lived in Florida many years and I have always raved about the Cuban coffee. Not only is it strong and fills you with energy, but it taste incredible. My Cuban friend Alexa used to make it for me often when I would visit her. I love drinking coffee in the morning but more than anything, I love having is as a dessert after a nice meal. This is how she makes it.
If you love this coffee, feel free to try my Iced Chai Latte Starbucks recipe.
What is Cuban Coffee?
Cuban coffee, also known as "cafecito" or "Cuban espresso," is a strong and highly concentrated coffee beverage that originates from Cuba. It is deeply ingrained in Cuban culture and has become an iconic symbol of the country's culinary heritage. Cuban coffee is known for its bold and robust flavor, as well as its unique preparation method.
The foundation of Cuban coffee lies in the use of dark roasted coffee beans, typically of Cuban or Latin American origin. These beans are finely ground to a powdery consistency, which contributes to the strong and intense flavor profile of the coffee.
What kind of sugar do you use?
In traditional Cuban coffee recipes, it is common to use granulated white sugar. The sugar is typically added directly to the coffee grounds before brewing in the moka pot. The amount of sugar used can vary depending on personal preference, but it is often a generous amount to create the characteristic sweetness of Cuban coffee.
However, you can also experiment with different types of sugar to customize the flavor of your Cuban coffee. Some people prefer using raw sugar or demerara sugar, which can add a subtle molasses-like flavor. Others may opt for alternative sweeteners like honey or agave syrup for a different taste profile.
Cuban Coffee Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Moka Pot
- Measuring cup or silver bell creamer cup
- Ground coffee - traditional Cuban brand espresso like Bustelo
- 3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make this Cuban Coffee Recipe
Fill the bottom chamber of your Moka Pot with water up to the designated fill line. Make sure not to exceed the maximum capacity. Place the filter basket into the bottom chamber and fill it with the finely ground coffee. Level the coffee grounds, but avoid compacting them too tightly. Screw the top chamber securely onto the bottom chamber of the Moka Pot. Place the Moka Pot on a stove burner over medium heat. Ensure that the handle is not directly above the flame or heat source to prevent it from getting too hot.
As the water in the bottom chamber heats up, it will create pressure, forcing the hot water through the coffee grounds and into the top chamber. You will hear a hissing sound as the coffee starts to brew. While the coffee is brewing, prepare your serving cups by adding the desired amount of granulated sugar to each cup. The sugar is an essential component of Cuban coffee. Once the brewing process is complete and you hear a gurgling sound, remove the Moka Pot from the heat source immediately to prevent over-extraction.
Pour the brewed coffee slowly and evenly into each cup, directly over the sugar. The hot coffee will dissolve the sugar and create a sweet and frothy mixture known as "espumita." Using a spoon or stirrer, vigorously mix the coffee and sugar together until a creamy foam forms on the surface.
Allow the foam to settle for a few seconds, and then give the coffee one final stir before serving. Enjoy your freshly brewed Cuban coffee while it's still hot. Sip and savor the robust flavors and the sweet creaminess of the espumita.
Substitutions for Cafecito
Sugar: Make sure to use granulated sugar for this instead of brown sugar. You could use cane sugar as well.
Coffee: Make sure to use a strong espresso, like Bustelo or La Llave.
Cuban Coffee Recipe Variations
- Café con Leche: This is a popular variation of Cuban coffee that combines espresso with steamed or frothed milk. Brew a strong cup of Cuban coffee using the traditional method and then mix it with an equal amount of steamed or frothed milk. Adjust the amount of milk according to your taste preferences. Serve it in a larger cup for a satisfying and creamy coffee experience.
- Cortadito: Cortadito is another beloved variation of Cuban coffee that incorporates a small amount of evaporated milk. Brew a shot of Cuban coffee and mix it with an equal amount of evaporated milk. This creates a rich and slightly sweet coffee with a velvety texture.
- Colada: If you're serving Cuban coffee to a group of people, a colada is a great option. A colada is a large serving of Cuban coffee meant to be shared. Brew a larger batch of Cuban coffee using your Moka Pot and serve it in small cups or demitasse cups alongside a small glass of water. This way, everyone can enjoy a small serving of the strong coffee and cleanse their palate with a sip of water.
- Pumpkin Spice Latte: Feel free to try my Pumpkin Spice Latte if you are feeling like coffee with a kick.
Pair this with my Banana Pudding with Chia Seeds.
To make this Cuban Coffee Recipe, you will need the following equipment:
- Moka Pot or Cafetera: This is the essential piece of equipment for brewing Cuban coffee. A moka pot is a stovetop espresso maker with three chambers: a bottom chamber for water, a middle chamber for coffee grounds, and a top chamber where the brewed coffee collects. Choose a moka pot that suits your desired serving size. I used this Moka Pot to make this Cuban Coffee.
- Coffee Grinder: To achieve the proper consistency for Cuban coffee, you will need a coffee grinder. Opt for a grinder that allows you to adjust the grind size to a fine or espresso setting. Grinding the coffee beans just before brewing will ensure freshness and maximum flavor.
- Dark Roast Coffee Beans: Select high-quality dark roast coffee beans for an authentic and bold Cuban coffee flavor. Look for Cuban or Latin American varieties known for their rich and intense profiles. Whole beans are recommended for optimal freshness, but pre-ground coffee can also be used if necessary.
- Granulated Sugar: Granulated white sugar is traditionally used in Cuban coffee. It adds sweetness and contributes to the characteristic caramelized flavor of the brew. Have a supply of granulated sugar readily available for adding to the coffee during the brewing process.
- Espresso Cups: Cuban coffee is typically served in small espresso cups. These cups are designed to hold the concentrated and strong coffee. Having a set of espresso cups on hand will enhance the experience of enjoying your Cuban coffee.
- Stovetop or Heat Source: Cuban coffee is brewed on a stovetop or heat source, such as a gas or electric burner. Ensure you have a suitable heat source available for placing the moka pot during the brewing process.
- Spoon or Stirrer: A spoon or stirrer is needed to mix the brewed coffee with the sugar, creating the sweet and creamy espumita (foam). Choose a sturdy spoon or stirrer that can withstand stirring in the moka pot or cup.
How to store Cuban Coffee
Storing this Cuban Coffee Recipe properly will help maintain its freshness and flavor over time. Here's how to store Cuban coffee:
- Keep it airtight: After opening the package of Cuban coffee, transfer the remaining coffee into an airtight container. Choose a container that seals tightly and prevents air from entering. This helps preserve the aroma and flavors of the coffee and prevents it from absorbing any odors from the surrounding environment.
- Store in a cool, dark place: Keep the container of Cuban coffee in a cool and dark location, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Excessive exposure to light, heat, and moisture can degrade the quality of the coffee and lead to flavor loss.
- Avoid refrigeration: It's generally recommended not to refrigerate or freeze Cuban coffee. Coffee is porous and can absorb moisture and odors present in the refrigerator or freezer, which can negatively impact its taste. Instead, store it at room temperature in a cool and dry area.
- Use within a reasonable timeframe: Cuban coffee, like any other coffee, is best when consumed fresh. It's ideal to use the coffee within a few weeks of opening the package to enjoy its full flavor and aroma. As time passes, the coffee may gradually lose its freshness and vibrancy.
- Grind just before brewing: For the freshest and most flavorful cup of Cuban coffee, grind the beans just before brewing. Whole beans retain their flavor and aroma better than pre-ground coffee. Invest in a good coffee grinder to ensure a consistent and fresh grind each time you brew.
Cuban Coffee Recipe Top tips
- Use freshly roasted coffee beans: For the best flavor, use freshly roasted coffee beans. Look for high-quality dark roast coffee beans, preferably of Cuban or Latin American origin. Freshly ground beans will contribute to a more aromatic and flavorful cup of Cuban coffee.
- Grind the coffee to a fine consistency: Grinding the coffee beans to a fine consistency is crucial for a proper extraction in the Moka Pot. The fine grind allows the hot water to pass through the coffee grounds more effectively, resulting in a strong and flavorful brew.
- Preheat the water: To speed up the brewing process and ensure a consistent extraction, start with preheated water in the bottom chamber of the Moka Pot. This helps maintain a steady temperature throughout the brewing process, resulting in a more balanced and flavorful cup of coffee.
- Add the sugar to the coffee grounds: To create the traditional espumita, add the desired amount of sugar directly to the coffee grounds in the Moka Pot before brewing. This allows the sugar to dissolve and blend with the coffee during the brewing process, infusing the coffee with sweetness and creating the signature foam on top.
- Remove from heat at the right moment: Pay attention to the brewing process and remove the Moka Pot from the heat source as soon as you hear the gurgling sound indicating that the brewing is complete. Leaving the pot on the heat for too long can result in over-extraction and a bitter taste.
- Stir vigorously for a creamy foam: To achieve a creamy and frothy espumita, stir the brewed coffee and sugar vigorously with a spoon or stirrer. The stirring action creates air bubbles and whips the coffee and sugar mixture into a smooth foam. Take your time to achieve a velvety texture before serving.
- Serve immediately: Cuban coffee is best enjoyed immediately after brewing while it's still hot. The flavors and aromas are at their peak when served fresh. Sip and savor the rich flavors and the sweet foam on top for the ultimate Cuban coffee experience.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove