These step-by-step instructions will walk you through how to make the best, sweet, frothy Cuban Coffee with a thick layer of faux crema on top.
What is Cuban Coffee?
Cuban Coffee (aka Cafe Cubano) is a super-sweet coffee make with whipped sugar and strong coffee or espresso. The whipped sugar rises to the top to form a thick, foamy layer that resembles crema. This layer, called “espuma”, is made of whipped sugar, which you’ll see how to make in the video. Super easy, super delicious. Moka pots are frequently used to brew the coffee needed for this recipe. If you’ve never used a moka pot, view our brewing guide here.
Making a Thicker, Sweeter Version
If you prefer your Cuban Coffee closer in consistency to the kind served in paper cups in Miami, you’ll have to increase the sugar content to around 1 – 1.5 TABLESPOONS per serving. Here’s what the final product looks like when you use more sugar. It’s far thicker, the espuma layer is deeper, and the coffee becomes lighter:
What kind of beans should I use for Cuban Coffee?
Cuban coffees are most traditional, but any medium-to-dark roast will do. Cuban coffee is sold at almost all grocery stores. Brands include Cafe Bustelo and Cafe Pilon, among others. These coffees are a bit finer in grind than I typically recommend for moka pots, which makes the next tip ESPECIALLY important:
My Abuela tamps the coffee down when brewing. Why shouldn’t I?
This is a common mistake with modern moka pots. The instructions with most of today’s moka pots specifically state not to tamp, and for good reason. Tamping makes it harder for the steam to rise through the grounds. This creates a build-up of pressure that modern, aluminum moka pots are not constructed to handle, putting you at risk of a blow-out. Using finely ground coffee (common with Cuban coffee brands) increases this risk since the smaller grinds mean more compaction, less air, and more pressure build-up. So it’s especially important not to tamp. View our Moka Pot Guide for more information.
You’re using decaf in your video. What’s wrong with you…
Health issues dictate that I’m stuck drinking decaf for the foreseeable future. But you don’t have too! Lucky you!
You don’t use enough sugar.
It’s true, traditional Cuban Coffee can have as much as a full TABLESPOON of sugar per cup. Feel free to add more sugar if you like. For me, 1-2 teaspoons per serving provides a great balance that is still very sweet, but allows the coffee flavor to shine through. But in general, more sugar = thicker espuma.
My Abuela says you’re doing it wrong.
Like any “traditional” recipe, there’s many variations out there, and the makers of each one will always claim theirs as the most “authentic”. And they may be right!
Moka pots have been used in households worldwide for decades. But it is a pressure-based system, so it’s important to read your manual and follow all safety instructions recommended by the manufacturer. Never leave a moka pot unattended on the heat.
- 4 tsp. white sugar
- Cuban style coffee (Cafe Bustelo or similar. In the end, you'll need 2 shots of brewed coffee.)
- water (for brewing the coffee)
- 3 cup (shot) Moka Pot
- mixing cup
- 2 espresso or demitasse cups
- You'll need at least 2 shots of coffee in the end. To make this, I used a 3-cup moka pot for this, which makes 2-3 shots.
- Fill moka pot with Cuban grounds. Do not tamp. Level off with finger.
- Fill bottom reservoir with hot water up to right below the pressure release valve.
- Place the moka pot on medium-low heat.
- Remove from heat immediately after the coffee brews.
- Place 4 tsp. of sugar into a mixing cup. (use more sugar for more froth)
- Once your coffee is brewed, grab 1 tsp of hot coffee, and place it into the sugar.
- Whip the sugar and coffee fiercely for 2-3 minutes, until it becomes foamy and creamy in color. Add more coffee, if needed.
- Pour the rest of the moka pot coffee into the sugar cup.
- Mix thoroughly until sugar is mostly dissolved and the espuma layer rises to the top.
- Pour into espresso or demitasse cups, and serve immediately.
- More sugar will create a thicker foam (espuma) layer. Some traditional recipes use up-to a tablespoon per shot of coffee.
Please feel free to ask questions and share your own experiences.
Music Credit: “Cumbia No Frills” by Kevin MacLeod.
Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/
*FTC* – This is not a sponsored video.
Products used in this video: