What Is Cuban Espresso and How to Make It

When you hear any food related to Latin America, we think about food packed with spices and strong intense flavors. Well, spicy and savory aren’t the only things that come into mind. but when you really dig deep into Latin American culture (especially in Cuba), you’ll be surprised to know that when it comes to intense flavors, they go all out. And that includes coffee. One, in particular, is the Cuban espresso.

What is Cuban Espresso?

Cuban espresso or Cafe Cubano is an espresso prepared with whipped cream. This espresso is characterized by its extremely sweet nature. Cafe Cubano is hot, sweet, and really strong! But what’s incredibly amazing about this type of coffee or espresso is its texture.

When you get a demitasse cup of Cafe Cubano, there is a layer of foam on top of the coffee that looks like crema. This is what they call as the Espuma. Espuma is the Spanish word for ‘froth’ or ‘foam’. The espuma is technically intended to look like crema. When brewing espresso using the Moka Pot, you can barely get a good amount of crema. But with the espuma, you get a similar sensation as when you drink a cup of espresso with crema.

How to Make Cuban Espresso?

The secret behind a good cup of Cafe Cubano is the whipped sugar. Cafe Cubano is pretty much a very easy drink to prepare. Here’s how you make a Cuban espresso.


  • 3-cup Moka Pot or Espresso machine
  • Small Mixing Bowl or cup
  • Spatula, Whipping Wand or Spoon
  • 2 espresso cups


  • 4 (or up to 6) teaspoons of white sugar
  • Cuban Coffee or any medium to dark roast coffee
  • Water
moka pot on stove with ground coffee in the background

Making the Espresso

Using a Moka Pot

  1. Fill Your Moka Pot with ground Cuban coffee. Remember not to tamp your coffee since this is not an espresso machine.
  2. Fill the reservoir with water.
  3. Put your Moka Pot on the stove and heat.
  4. Once the coffee is finished brewing, take the Moka Pot off the stove.

Using an Espresso Machine

  1. With a clean espresso machine, put the ground Cuban coffee in the portafilter and tamp. Level the portafilter with your finger or a spoon.
  2. Out the portafilter into its holder and lock it into the espresso machine.
  3. Prepare the espresso cups and put it under the espresso machine.
  4. Turn on the espresso machine and let the espresso drip.
brown and white sugar

Whipping the Sugar

NOTE: For every cup of espresso is 1 teaspoon of sugar. For those who prefer a lighter sweeter coffee, you can add 1.5 teaspoons of sugar. However, the most ideal (in most Cuban recipes) use 4 teaspoons of sugar for 3 cup shots of espresso.

  1. Put the sugar in the mixing cup.
  2. Once the espresso starts to slowly spur out in your Moka pot, fill your teaspoon with the first few drips and pour it into the mixing cup. Put two teaspoons of espresso first, you can just add in some more later on, if needed.
  3. Mix the espresso and sugar slowly then start to beat.
  4. Whip or beat the crap out of your sugar. There is no such thing as overbeating your sugar.
  5. Keep beating the sugar until it thickens up into a viscous caramel-colored froth and no particles of sugar are left.

Creating the Heavenly Cafe Cubano

  1. Once you are finished with the frothed sugar, pour in the espresso.
  2. Mix the froth and espresso gently.
  3. Pour into your demitasse cups. Serve!

The Cafe Cubano Secret

Every Cuban home has their own twist to make a kicking cafe Cubano. Having a taste of homemade Cafe Cubano by different families, I’ve found some awesome home secrets. And these local twists make this drink even more authentic.

Use Brown Sugar

Refined sugar is just plain sweetness. Brown sugar, on the other hand, has a unique earthy taste to it. It is a little harder to whip but Cuban espresso has more funk and flavor to it.

The First Drops

I dare say, the best froth comes when mixed with the very first few frothy drops of espresso from your Moka Pot. When infused with the sugar, the taste is absolutely divine.

Cuban coffee or espresso expresses the flavorful culture of Cuba. You can’t go wrong with a pure shot of espresso with sweetness whipped to perfection. You can drink it neat, or as an ingredient for your cappuccino.

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