Cuban Coffee (Cafecito)

Cuban Coffee

The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 4-6 drinks (4-6 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
32 Calories
0g Fat
8g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4-6 drinks (4-6 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 32
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 10mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cuban coffee is sweet, rich, and delicious. Traditionally, it's served after dinner, and there's no need for dessert when you're sharing this beverage with family and friends. It requires a special technique that creates shots of espresso with a thick layer of foamy crema on top. Unlike other espresso drinks, the crema is created with sugar, not milk, and there's no need to have an expensive espresso machine in the kitchen.

To make Cuban coffee, a 6-cup or 9-cup stovetop espresso maker or moka pot work best. Brewing the coffee is easy and fine-ground Cuban coffee makes it authentic. Freshly ground coffee beans work just as well.

There are a couple of tricks to transforming sugar into the perfect crema and it does take practice. First, watch the pot and use the first tablespoon or so of coffee that's brewed. It's concentrated and almost like coffee sludge, ideal for whisking with sugar to create the thick paste known as espuma (or espumita). To get the desired consistency you need to whip the mix for a couple of minutes. It takes patience and muscle, but the resulting coffee is worth every bit of it.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup coffee (finely ground; or amount needed for pot)
  • 1 1/2 cups water (or amount for coffee pot)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Cuban Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  2. In a large stovetop espresso maker, brew coffee according to the manufacturer's instructions using fine-ground coffee.

    Brewing Coffee in a Stovetop Espresso Maker for Cuban Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  3. In a glass measuring cup with at least 2 cup capacity, add the sugar. Once a little bit of coffee has brewed, add about 1 tablespoon to the sugar. Reserve a little extra coffee concentrate in a small dish to use if needed. Place the pot back on the stove to finish brewing.

    Making Espuma for Cuban Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  4. Make the espuma by using a small whisk or spoon to vigorously beat the sugar and espresso until it is a pale brown, almost foamy paste, about 2 to 3 minutes. You cannot beat it too much.

    Making Espuma for Cuban Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  5. When the coffee has finished brewing, pour it over the espuma while stirring to incorporate. Let the foamy crema rise to the top.

    Forming the Ideal Crema for Cuban Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios 
  6. Pour into individual demitasse espresso cups. Shake the measuring cup a little and use a spoon as you pour to get crema into each cup.

    Pouring Cuban Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  7. Serve and enjoy!

    Cuban Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

Tips

  • Use the amount of coffee and water required for the capacity of espresso maker you're using.
  • When whipping the espuma, it will be grainy at first. Keep going and it will turn into a foamy paste. It should be thick enough to drip off the end of the whisk or spoon but not runny and the sugar should be nearly dissolved. Add another splash of concentrated espresso if needed.
  • There's no need to adjust the sugar—1/4 cup works for 6-cup and 9-cup pots. The larger volume will not be quite as sweet.
  • You can use a 3-cup moka pot but will need to reduce the espuma or the coffee will be too sweet. Since 1/4 cup of sugar is easier to beat into espuma than 1/8 cup, consider making the larger amount. Once the espuma is ready, divide it in half or spoon a tablespoon (or to taste) of espuma into individual cups. Store excess espuma in a sealed container in the refrigerator and use it within a day; let it reach room temperature and whip again before adding coffee. The second round may not be perfect, but it will still taste good.

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