How to Brew Authentic Cuban Coffee at Home with a Moka Pot

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Written By Chad Kelley

The overly caffeinated chef dad taking you down the rabbit hole of caffeinated knowledge

Cafe Cubano on a table next to the Cuban flag

Cuban coffee: a drink that packs a punch and captures the essence of a vibrant culture.

With just a few sips, you can experience the lively rhythms of Havana, the aromas of tropical fruits, and the warmth of a passionate people.

But what makes this coffee so unique? Is it the bold flavor, the sweet foam, or the rich history?

Join me on a journey down the rabbit hole that is the world of Cuban coffee, and let’s uncover the secrets of this beloved beverage.

From the traditional methods of brewing to the modern twists on classic coffee recipes, we’ll explore the caffeinated knowledge you didn’t know you needed.

So grab your moka pot, dust off your Spanish dictionary, and get ready for a wild ride.

Welcome to the world of Cuban coffee.

What Makes Cuban Coffee Different?

If you’ve ever had a sip of traditional café Cubano, you know that it’s not your average cup of joe. Cuban coffee is a unique and flavorful sweetened espresso that captures the essence of Cuban culture.

So, what makes Cuban coffee different? It’s all about the process. The Cuban method of making coffee involves brewing espresso in a moka pot and adding a special touch: the sugar foam.

Now, the key to the perfect sugar foam lies in the whipping technique. You have to whip the sugar and first drops of espresso coffee together to create a creamy, thick foam. This is what gives Cuban coffee its distinct sweetness and creamy texture.

Cuban Coffee Beans Drying in the Sun

But, there’s more to it than just the sugar foam. Cuban coffee is made with a special blend of dark roast Cuban espresso beans, which are carefully selected and roasted to create a rich and bold flavor.

And, the brewing process in the moka pot adds a special touch of intensity that’s hard to replicate with other brewing methods.

Here’s a fun fact: in Cuba, there are four main types of coffee drinks: cafecito, cortadito, café con leche, and cafe Cubano. Each one has a unique blend of espresso, milk, and sugar, and is served in different sizes and proportions.

So, if you want to experience the true taste of Cuba, you’ve got to try Cuban coffee. With its bold flavor, sweet foam, and rich cultural heritage, it’s a coffee experience like no other.

Overall, the combination of the moka pot, the espresso, and the sugar foam creates a unique and distinctive coffee experience that is truly Cuban.

Related Article: Arabica vs. Robusta Showdown: Which Bean Will Reign Supreme?

Traditional Cuban Coffee

To truly appreciate Cuban coffee, let’s take a look at how it’s made traditionally. The process begins with the moka pot, a trusty stovetop espresso maker that’s been a staple in Cuban households for generations.

Now, the secret to a perfect Cuban coffee lies in the blend of Cuban espresso beans and the brewing technique. The moka pot is filled with water and the espresso blend is added to the filter. As the pot heats up on the stove, the water boils and the espresso is brewed to perfection.

But, there’s more to Cuban coffee than just making stovetop espresso. It’s incomplete without the sugar foam, or espuma as the Cubans call it. This foam is created by whipping sugar and coffee together, which is then added to the top of the espresso shot. The result? A perfectly balanced blend of bitter and sweet, all in one cup.

Raw Sugar in a spoon laying on top of sugar cane

Now, here’s a tip: to make an authentic Cuban coffee, you’ve got to use raw sugar. This is the traditional sweetener used in Cuban coffee and it enhances the flavor of espresso coffee like nothing else. But, if you don’t have raw sugar, don’t worry, granulated white sugar will work just fine.

In Cuba, it’s common to serve the espresso with a small glass of water on the side. This is used to cleanse the palate before and after drinking the coffee, as well as to help dilute the strong flavor of the espresso.

Finally, Cuban coffee is often served as part of a traditional Cuban breakfast, alongside pastries or toast. One popular variation is the cafe cubano, which is a stronger version of Cuban coffee that has more sugar and is served in a larger cup.

traditional cuban breakfast

So, now that you know the secrets of real Cuban coffee, why not try making it yourself?

The moka pot and the Cuban espresso blend can be found online or at specialty stores.

With a bit of practice, you’ll be whipping up the perfect Cuban coffee in no time.

Related Article: Brew Better Coffee with Brikka: The Revolutionary Stovetop Espresso Maker

Moka Pot in a coffee shop

Cuban Coffee: The Strongest Coffee?

If you’re a coffee lover, you might have heard of the legendary reputation of Cuban coffee as the strongest coffee around. But, is it really true? Let’s take a closer look.

Now, it’s important to note that the strength of coffee can be measured in different ways. Some might base it on caffeine content, while others might look at the intensity of the flavor or the body of the coffee.

When it comes to caffeine, Cuban coffee does pack a punch. This is because the Cuban espresso blend is made with a higher proportion of Robusta beans, which have more caffeine than Arabica beans.

But, here’s the catch: the strength of the coffee also depends on the brewing method, roast level, and serving size. In fact, traditional Cuban coffee is often served in small cups, known as demitasse cups, which are only a few ounces in size.

So, even though the coffee might have a high caffeine content, you’re not consuming a lot of it in one sitting.

That being said, Cuban coffee has a bold and intense flavor that can be overwhelming for some. If you’re not used to strong coffee, you might want to start with a milder variation like the cortadito, which is blended with an equal amount of milk.

Cuban Coffee in styrofoam cups next to a pastry

At the end of the day, whether or not Cuban coffee is the strongest coffee is a matter of opinion. But, one thing is for sure: it’s a coffee experience that’s not to be missed. With its unique blend of Robusta beans, bold flavor, and cultural heritage, Cuban coffee is a coffee lover’s dream. So, if you’re up for a flavorful adventure, give Cuban coffee a try.

What Makes It Cuban Coffee?

So, what makes Cuban coffee stand out from other espresso drinks? It’s not just the sugar foam and the moka pot, but the cultural heritage and traditions that make Cuban coffee a unique and flavorful experience.

For Cubans, coffee is more than just a drink; it’s a way of life. Coffee has been an essential part of their culture for centuries, symbolizing warmth, hospitality, and social connection.

In fact, coffee plays a significant role in social settings, bringing people together to share stories, laughter, and camaraderie. The way coffee is served in Cuba is a reflection of this cultural emphasis on hospitality and social interaction.

The four main types of Cuban coffee, including the cafecito, cortadito, cafe con leche, and cafe Cubano, each have their unique blend of espresso, milk, and sugar that represents the diverse tastes and preferences of the Cuban people.

Elements of Cuban Coffee

Cuban coffee has gained international popularity, thanks to the Cuban diaspora and the rise of specialty coffee shops. You can find Cuban coffee in many parts of the world, but nothing can compare to the experience of drinking Cuban coffee in its homeland.

The Cuban approach to coffee is also reflected in the brewing process, which involves a unique blend of Cuban espresso beans, carefully selected and roasted to create a bold and rich flavor. The use of a moka pot and the addition of sugar foam give Cuban coffee its distinct flavor and texture.

What sets Cuban coffee apart is not just the brewing process or the sugar foam, but the cultural heritage, traditions, and values that are embedded in every cup. Cuban coffee is an expression of the rich history, warmth, and hospitality that make the culture so unique.

So, next time you take a sip of Cuban coffee, remember the cultural significance behind it and savor the rich flavors and aromas of this beloved beverage.

Types Of Cuban Coffee

Cafe Cubano

Cuban coffee comes in four main types, each with its own unique blend of espresso, milk, and sugar. Let’s take a closer look at each type:


This is the most traditional and straightforward type of Cuban coffee. It’s a shot of espresso with a dollop of sugar foam on top. It’s served in small cups and is perfect for those who want a strong and sweet coffee to kick start their day.


If you prefer a milder coffee with a touch of sweetness, try the cortadito. It’s a variation of the cafecito, which is blended with an equal amount of steamed milk. The milk adds a creamy texture to the coffee and balances out the sweetness of the sugar foam. It’s also served in small cups and is perfect for those who want a more subtle coffee experience.

Cafe con leche:

For a creamier and more indulgent coffee, go for the cafe con leche. It’s made with equal parts of steamed milk and espresso, and sometimes a little bit of salt and butter are added to give it a richer flavor. It’s served in a larger cup and is perfect for those who want a milder and more substantial coffee.

Cafe Cubano:

If you’re looking for a bold and sweet coffee, try the Cafe Cubano. It’s a newer variation of the cafecito, which involves adding a shot of espresso to a cup of sugar and stirring until the mixture becomes a thick syrup.

The syrup is then poured over the remaining espresso to create a powerful and sweet coffee. It’s served in small cups and is perfect for those who want a strong and indulgent coffee.

Each type of Cuban coffee has its own distinct flavor and character, reflecting the diverse tastes and preferences of Cuban culture. Whether you’re in the mood for a bold and sweet coffee or a creamy and indulgent coffee, there’s a Cuban coffee that’s perfect for you.

So, the next time you order a Cuban coffee, try one of these variations and savor the unique flavors and aromas of Cuban culture. By experiencing the four types of Cuban coffee, you’ll get a taste of the rich history and hospitality that make Cuban coffee a beloved beverage around the world.

Related Article: Comparing Piccolo & Cortado: The Ins and Outs of Espresso

Cuban Flag Hanging between apartments

Bottoms Up: Time To Sip On Some Cuban Coffee!

Now that you’re well-versed in the world of Cuban coffee, it’s time to grab a cup and try it for yourself! Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or just starting your coffee journey, Cuban coffee is a must-try for anyone who wants to experience the rich culture and hospitality of Cuba.

By trying the different types of Cuban coffee, you’ll get a glimpse of the diverse tastes and preferences of the Cuban people. From the strong and sweet cafecito to the creamy and indulgent cafe con leche, there’s a Cuban coffee that’s perfect for every taste bud.

So, next time you’re in the mood for a bold and flavorful coffee, order a cup of Cuban coffee and experience the unique blend of espresso, milk, and sugar that makes Cuban coffee so special.

And don’t forget to try making it at home with a moka pot some dark roast espresso, and some raw sugar for an authentic Cuban style coffee experience.

In the words of the Cuban proverb, “El cafe fue bueno, pero la charla fue mejor” (The coffee was good, but the conversation was better).

So, grab a cup of Cuban coffee, sit down with a friend, and enjoy the conversation over a delicious and flavorful cup of coffee. Cheers!