How To Make Café Cubano {Cuban Coffee}

How To Make Café Cubano {Cuban Coffee}
From, by Michelle Lara


 Stove-top espresso maker, finely ground coffee and sugar

The Tools: Stove-top espresso maker, finely ground coffee and sugar – Michelle Lara


In Latin culture {I’m Puerto Rican} coffee is not about a quick cup in the morning to start your day. The idea of plugging a machine and loading a pod to disburse coffee in seconds is outlandish.

Growing up drinking coffee was about spending time together. The woman in my family would head to the kitchen to clean up and prepare a ‘taza de café con leche‘ – it’s during these times they’d discuss marriage, who was expecting, illnesses, who was divorcing {gasp!}, politics  and everything else in between.  Being able to sit with them was a right of passage – it meant you were mature enough to hear the stories and never dare repeat them. While I enjoyed the gossip, I was never really into the coffee itself. I’d add a lot of milk and a lot more sugar and would basically dissolve away all the coffee taste – what was I thinking?!

When Starbucks became really popular I wanted to see what all the buzz was about,  I found the entire ordering process overwhelming – tall, grande, whip, no foam. I thought my coffee ship had sailed and left it at that. It wasn’t until I moved to South Florida that I tasted Café Cubano {Cuban coffee}, I was instantly hooked.


I’ve attempted to make it several times, while I had all the right tools I was missing a few important steps. I enlisted the help of my good friend, Liz Balmaseda who happens to be an amazing writer and food editor . If you’re going to get a Café Cubano tutorial trust me she’s is the one you want to learn from!

Liz says to make a great Café Cubano you don’t need any fancy toolsor even fancy coffee – Café Bustelo or Café Pilon can be found in just about every supermarket across the country.  The key to a perfect taza is the crema {some call it espumita}. The crema is basically sugar that has been caramelized and whisked into the coffee – this is what makes that beautiful golden froth that floats on top of  a Cafe Cubano.

How To Make Cuban Coffee | Michelle // Cupcakes, Cocktails & Kids

Café Cubano Recipe:

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • A stove-top espresso maker {similar to this one – they’re inexpensive and come in  different sizes}
  • finely ground coffee
  • water as needed
  • sugar {I like about 2.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving}


1. The espresso maker has basically 2 compartments the bottom piece is where you add the water. There is a small knob inside, you are going to fill the water right below that knob.

2. Add your coffee into the top piece make sure not to pack it in – you want to fill it to the rim but fluff it up. Tightly close the espresso maker.

3. Place the espresso maker on the stove-top on high heat. In a separate container add your sugar.

4. You will start to hear noise as the water starts to steam up. Stay close by,  lift the lid gently as the first bit of coffee rushes up, pour that into the sugar. Lower the temperature from high to medium and allow the rest of the coffee to brew.

5. Beat the sugar and coffee  vigorously {for about a minute} to make the crema. You want a golden velvety smooth consistency. If it’s too sandy you can add some more coffee that has brewed – add it in little by little and whisk again to get the right consistency.

6. Pour the espresso into the cup you have your crema in, the foam will rise to the top. Carefully pour your espresso into a small ‘taza’ {espresso cup} and carefully push the the crema with it.

If you’d like it with milk {cafe con leche} heat milk to just before it boils. For a bit more indulgence you can prepare it with evaporated milk.

cuban coffee tutorial collage 1

cuban coffee tutorial collage 2a

cuban coffee tutorial collage 3


Follow Liz Balmaseda on Twitter,  Instagram and at The Palm Beach Post






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