Introduction: Making Cuban Coffee

Picture of Making Cuban Coffee

Cuban Coffee is a type of espresso that is popular in many Latin countries. It is fairly easy to prepare, and incredibly delicious. Since moving to Miami I have fallen in love with the stuff, and I am trying to spread the joy of this wonderful coffee drink.

Step 1: Ingredients and Cookware

Picture of Ingredients and Cookware

Here's what you need.

Espresso: I believe any kind will do, but in my opinion Supreme by Bustelo is best.
Sugar: Plain, white sugar. Not powdered, not the raw stuff.

Espresso maker: I use a stove-top espresso maker. If you have a plug-in automatic type then more
power to you.
Mixing container: I use a metal cream/milk pourer, but you can use a coffee mug.
Teaspoon: A tablespoon is too big.

Step 2: Brewing the Espresso

Picture of Brewing the Espresso

As I said before, if you have an automatic espresso machine, then just use that to brew the espresso. This step is for those who want to do it in a stovetop espresso maker.

A stovetop espresso maker consists of three parts.
1. The base, where you put the water
2. The strainer, where you put the espresso grounds.
3. The top, which collects the brewed espresso.

First fill the base with water. Stop right before the little release hole. (You can see it in the picture near my thumb.) Second put the strainer in and fill with espresso. Level it off with the spoon. Finally screw the top on tight and put it on the burner. (Put the maker on the burner and then turn the burner on. Don't heat the burner up and then put the maker on.)

Step 3: Sugar

Picture of Sugar

While the espresso is brewing measure out the sugar into the mixing container. I use 5 1/2 heaping teaspoons (in the picture you can see what I mean by heaping). Some people like a little more, some like a little less.

Don't use anything too big to mix in, or the sugar/espresso ratio will be off. In the picture below you can see the size of my mixing container. This is roughly the size you want to stick with (approx. 3/4 of a normal coffee mug).

Step 4: Mixing

Picture of Mixing

Once the espresso is brewed, it's time to mix it. This is actually the tricky part. Don't worry, if you mess it up it won't effect the taste, it just won't have espuma (foam). The foam is kind of the trademark part of Cuban Coffee. It takes a few times to get it right, but like I said, it's still great even without the foam.

First add a little coffee to the sugar (It's hard to tell you how much, because I always do it by sight, but I think that it would be about two or three teaspoons worth.) Now mix the HECK out of it. It should almost look like a thick cream when you are done. If you mix it and it's still clumpy, add a little more espresso and mix some more.

Step 5: Finishing It Off

Picture of Finishing It Off

Now fill the mixing container to the brim with espresso and mix it up until you don't feel the sugar in the bottom anymore.

Step 6: Done!

Picture of Done!

Here's the finished product. You can see the thin, tan foam floating on top. The little cup show what 1 serving is. 2 servings is usually plenty, and at 3 or 4 I get a little jittery. Great for study nights or all night partying. Have fun and enjoy!


RestoreMyPhotos (author)2016-02-17

Memories of Buenos Aires 'batido' which is a simpler method without any percolator and uses instant so it's only when you don't have the home for proper coffee!
Put your favourite amount of coffee & sugar into the small , add just a few drops of cold water and 'mix the heck out of as you say!
Pour hot water just before it boils and from a height if you can and stir.
There should be a nice 'crema ' foam espuma whatever you like to call it :)

AmandaB97 (author)2016-01-03

how is this positive or constructive?

IsmaryF (author)2015-07-23

CafeA (author)2015-07-19

I'm stiring the sugar. How does the foam come to the top as mine is black on top with no foam. Don't quite get the last process to produce foam

technodude92 (author)2007-12-09

Great Instructable (+1) I also live in Miami and the foreign language department at my school is constantly brewing the stuff and sending it to teachers all over campus. Love the stuff, great way to start the day. just one little suggestion; when we make it at home, we usually take the first few drops to come out of the machine to make the froth. I don't know if this affects flavor, thats just how we do it.

blksheep (author)technodude922007-12-10

Using the first few drops is also how they make it where I work. I haven't noticed any difference in taste. I think it's usually done so you can froth the sugar while the espresso is brewing.

Saint (author)blksheep2007-12-11

The first coffee to get through the filter is also the strongest, so I can imagine it affecting the taste of the froth.

blksheep (author)Saint2007-12-18

It might, but honestly the flavor of the espresso is very strong overall. There really is no way to taste a difference in the foam considering you drink it all down at once. But... if you were to make the foam as a topping for a dessert, like ice cream or something, then you probably would taste a difference between the start and end of the brew

Alajas01 (author)blksheep2015-05-13

The first bit of coffee that comes out of the maker is called the ink and it is important to use it to mix the sugar as opposed to a bit of the fully brewed coffee... It is thicker and more concentrated and makes the sugar whip into a thicker paste... If done correctly each of the 5/6 shots out of the batch can have up to a cm of foam at the top

valerie.dubord.3 (author)2014-09-27

Missing the Cuban culture, and great food. Thanks for the lesson!

blksheep (author)2014-09-24

Wow. Thank you for your insightful comment.

PS: 'Cuban Coffee' is just a common term for the preparation of the espresso. It isn't to say that this espresso is unique to Cuba. Here's a whole article about it.

lauraincleveland (author)2014-07-03

rightbrainer (author)2013-07-26

Damn this sounds so good..Though fast metabolism & that much sugar
would not be a nice bodily experience.
I wish it were feasible with maybe half the sugar content, but I'm assuming that would screw up the ratio..
Anybody tried it it that way???

Ti4 (author)2012-10-23

I didn't know that this is called "Cuban Coffee" in USA. Many people do the same also here in Italy :)
I do it with brown sugar: I think that the caramel aftertaste it leaves is delicious.
Just an advice: to make the sugar-coffee "paste", use the very first drop of coffee that comes out. It's more aromatic!
And an information: the italian "stove-top espresso maker" real name is "moka" and, in Italy, the coffee it makes is not "espresso". Espresso is ONLY the short coffee made with the "steam espresso machine" like the ones you can find in bars or the smaller machines with similar functioning for home use.

acoleman3 (author)2011-12-17

this actually sounds good. nice 'ible!

kutz (author)2010-04-19

lol, i have mine black
 tastes terrible but it'll pick u up real quick!

aidanjarosgrilli (author)kutz2011-12-07

small cup and one teaspoon of sugar

Zombie_BBQ (author)kutz2011-03-09

sorry to say but if it taste terrible you must have done it wrong or used bad coffee

mcsmiley (author)2011-11-28

Just to add a suggestions of the particular brands of coffee that seem to do the trick. Try either Bustelo, Pilon or Llave.

Karyes (author)2011-11-25

This is a terrific instructable! I've always wanted to make Cuban coffee at home, it's the best medicine for low energy, so thank you!
My personal (if unconventional) tip: After making the (unrefined) sugar/espresso paste and adding in the rest of the espresso, I use a little wire whisk to whip up the espuma in the stainless pot -- which I've placed on the still-warm burner after removing the traditional Italian espresso maker. I've found it's easier to get a good foam this way, especially living at a high altitude, where everything seems to cool off much more quickly.

Zombie_BBQ (author)2011-03-09

wow very nice,i miss Cuban Coffee. used to live in Florida about 23+ odd years ago .

ser_pez (author)2010-03-05

 another easy way to add the sugar is to spoon it directly into the top part of the espresso maker.  that way, when the water boils and the espresso is collected in the top part, it will mix with the sugar and then all you have to do is stir the coffee with a small spoon and then pour.  

blksheep (author)ser_pez2010-03-06

You could do it that way, but I wouldn't get the foam on top. But if you don't want the foam, it would be quicker.

Void Schism (author)blksheep2010-04-14

I use a press for most of my coffee, with the sugar in with the coffee.
I use unprocessed (raw) sugar and I still get a gorgeous thick espuma (aka crema)
From what I understand, it is a foam of emulsified coffee oils in water, and so is independant of where or what type the sugar is.
Making sure the coffee is fresh and oily, and that the water is hot enough to make the oils emulsify should be enough to guarantee a decent espuma

mr.anon.e.mouse (author)2010-01-24

 Thanks for the instructable! I just drank my first attempt at Cuban coffee and it was really god! Not quite as good as the little hole-in-the-wall (literally) that I used to get my cafecitos from in Miami, but I'm get it down pat, I'm sure. 

My rig is a 1.5 cup stovetop coffee maker. I used 4 tsp. good coffee, 1 smashed whole clove (that was a good suggestion, thank you, too, fishhead455) and 3 rounded tsp. of plain ol' sugar. I didn't get any foam, but I attribute that to adding too much coffee to the dissolving step. Still, it tasted so good that I'm going to go for another batch - perfect for a wintery day studying contracts!

By the way, your fine instructable provoked me to register so I could say Thanks! 

austinburke. (author)2009-02-07

is there anyway to make this without an espresso maker? im broke...

GCLumpkin (author)austinburke.2009-08-20

Would this help?

Espresso Without a Machine Using a Single Serve Coffee Maker

jotyson (author)austinburke.2009-06-03

ab: I don't know of any. But they come in many sizes and prices. Check thrift stores. many people buy these and never use them then toss. Others will toss when the seal is worn and it begins leaking steam. If you find one in this condition go to a coffee specialty house and match the seal. It can be removed with a sharp knife. If you find the old Italian aluminum types they are OK for awhile--but keep looking for a stainless model. The aluminums build up crud/corrosion inside the base and must be scoured. The aluminums can be spotted by the sharp octagonal edges on its top and base.

blksheep (author)austinburke.2009-02-09

Well, you have to use hot espresso. I suppose you could buy an espresso from a coffee shop and then mix it up, but the espresso needs to be really hot to melt the sugar. Usually the stove-top espresso makers are pretty cheap, between $10 and $20, maybe less.

jokavi (author)2009-05-25

You must like your coffee cold.

and7barton (author)2009-05-24

Is this the same as Cafe Stretto ? - The stuff they sell in Italian cafes ? Immensely strong with an oily slick on the top.

Zootch (author)2009-03-16

I like strong, bitter coffee, do I need ANY sugar? I am used to black Turkish coffee and triple espressos...

tandem25 (author)Zootch2009-03-18

When I lived in Florida, my an inlaw of mine made this for me quite regularly. I tried your version. it is VERY similar. Killer! Thank You. I use less sugar but very close.

blksheep (author)Zootch2009-03-17

If you don't add any sugar, then it's just plain espresso. Cuban Coffee is just the name for how the espresso is prepared. This definitely isn't bitter coffee, although it does still have a strong flavor.

Archergal52 (author)2009-02-24

I kinda wish I'd never read this instructable. After I made one cup, I've been making 2-3 cups/day. That much sugar and caffeine can't be good for me, but oh it's so delicious.


blksheep (author)Archergal522009-02-24

Glad you like it. And... no, it can't be good for you, but hey who wants to live forever?

uberchoob (author)2008-08-07

I've got a question. You mention how much sugar you use (5 1/2 heaping teaspoons), but how much espresso does that sweeten?? Could you give me the amount in ounces please?

thraco (author)uberchoob2009-02-16

I use a one-to-one ratio, e.g. 6 tsp for my 6-cup stovetop maker. Well, 6 tsp and a little more, just for fun. :) I love cuban coffee.

myrtle50 (author)2009-01-03

Fabulous - I always wondered what Cuban Coffee was!

RainForRent (author)2008-08-30

Dammit, I had almost forgotten how great cortaditos are. I need to get back to Miami. The coffee shop loved the gringo who always came in ordering huge amounts of cortaditos and coladas.

joeny1980 (author)2008-08-04

Excellent instructable. I have been looking for directions on making cuban espresso in a stovetop espresso maker and this is by far the best I've found. I have a problem though. I can't get foam at all. I've tried this a half a dozen times and I cant get it no matter what. I am using filtered water. I am putting the stove at about half way. How high do you have your heat? I have it half way up so the pot finishes in about 5 minutes. I am using a 2 cup pot, I believe yours is a six. Can you confirm? It is important to know especially if you are using 5 and a half teaspoons of sugar. I am using canned espresso coffee as well, I've tried 3 brands and same results everytime. I whipped up the sugar and it looked identical to your photo, when I poured in the rest - it is just straight black. Help me out.

blksheep (author)joeny19802008-08-04

Foam really is the hardest part. In my experience the lack of foam comes from adding coffee to the sugar too fast. The sugar just straight away melts and you can't whip it properly. Another way to get it is to add a tiny bit of coffee to the sugar, (like a tablespoon) and mix it up. Then add a tiny bit more, mix it again. Keep adding until the sugar is to consistency of thick pancake batter. Now whip the hell out of it. Finally dump all the remaining coffee in and stir. The foam should come up as you pour in the coffee.

Linthorn (author)2007-12-24

Dios Mio! I have been trying (unsuccessfully) for years to make a decent Cuban coffee (cafecito). I read your instructions and immediately made two wonderful batches back-to-back. I'm thrilled!

metaphronesis (author)2007-12-10

OH MAN ever since I moved away from home (Miami) I've been obsessed with this stuff. I guess I'm trying to compensate for missing my culture back home. I still can't do a good job at the froth, but after reading your instructable I'll give it another go. CUBA LIBRE!!!!

fishhead455 (author)2007-12-10

This stuff is TOO strong. I drank a cup and did a back flip over my grandma's house...(just kidding). Add some freshly-ground nutmeg and two or three crushed cloves to the mix before brewing. This is a Caribbean mountain-style. Tasty-tasty fer sher. Enjoy.

blksheep (author)fishhead4552007-12-10

My fiance's dad adds 1/2 to 1 heaping teaspoon of instant coffee to the sugar before he mixes it up. Talk about back flips!

robbtoberfest (author)2007-12-09

Is it the frothed sugar that makes it a Cuban coffee?

blksheep (author)robbtoberfest2007-12-10

Yeah, mostly. It's also the amount of sugar. When I think "espresso" I think really bitter, but Cuban Coffee is sweet and smooth . It always reminds me of chocolate.

GorillazMiko (author)2007-12-09

ah, looks very delicious! do you have any other good recipies?

blksheep (author)GorillazMiko2007-12-10

At this point most of my recipies are just barely edible to cockroaches, but I'm trying to get some more good ones. I may at some point post Mom's Spaghetti Recipie which is, honestly, the best spaghetti sauce I've ever had.

About This Instructable



Bio: In a past life I was a scenic designer, living in New York and building plays and fashion shows. Now, life has slowed down a ... More »
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