Making Cuban Coffee




About: 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 bit and I'm figuring out how to be a good husband and dad.

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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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!

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!

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    54 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    What size stove top maker did you use 5.5 teaspoons of sugar would make a difference in the taste with different sizes of makers. Thank you


    1 year ago

    my two cents on my attempts to make Cuban coffee...pour the coffee then add the espuma if you notice yours just dissolves as mine maybe take temperature down or pour first to allow a bit of steam off it then add the whipped sugar. Add it in about three sections and it really gets a lot of foam


    3 years ago

    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 :)


    3 years ago

    how is this positive or constructive?


    4 years ago

    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


    11 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    4 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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


    Reply 4 years ago

    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


    4 years ago on Step 6

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


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    6 years ago on Step 6

    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???


    6 years ago on Step 6

    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.


    9 years ago on Step 6

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

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

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