How to Make a Cafecito / Cuban Coffee

What is a Cafecito (Cafe Cubano)?

The Café Cubano (Cafecito) is a prominent social drink in Cuba, Florida and many Cuban American communities. This coffee is very similar to a traditional espresso – strong brewed, in slightly larger quantity than actual espresso, and sweetened with sugar alone.

Cafecito is also the name of a sandwich shop in Chicago. A Cuban coffee is simply coffee from Cuba.

Cafecito Recipe (Cafe Cubano)

Introduce the Cafecito to your friends and family at your next social gathering. This recipe uses a 3-cup Moka Pot (Stove Top Espresso Maker) at 4-oz per cup, for a total of 12 brewed ounces of coffee.

Course Drinks
Cuisine Cuban
Keyword cafecito, cuban coffee
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 36 kcal


  • 42 g Coffee espresso grind
  • 420 ml Water
  • 3 tsp Brown Sugar or demerara

How to Make

  1. Fill Moka Pot with water according to instructions

  2. Pack down coffee into stove top espresso maker chamber

  3. Place over moderate heat

  4. Add 1 tsp of sugar to 2 coffee cups

  5. As coffee fills the reservoir, pour ½ tablespoon of coffee over sugar to begin dissolving

  6. Return espresso maker to heat to complete brewing

  7. Beat the sugar and espresso mix in the cup with a spoon, until granules dissolve - this is known as "creaming the sugar"

  8. Pour brewed coffee over the creamed sugar, stirring slowly

  9. Pour coffee into espresso cups and serve

Recipe Notes

This coffee drink recipe has a sweet demerara sugar over a strong coffee that packs a punch.

Your ratios may vary from the traditional 1:10 coffee:water ratio, depending on your brewing method and preferences.

Demerara sugar has a larger grain than brown sugar; it is partially refined and produced from the first crystallization of cane juice into sugar. The demerara natural caramel flavor gives this warm drink its caramel notes. The crema for this coffee is hand made using the demerara sugar and a little bit of the brewed coffee.

You will need to beat the sugar and coffee until it becomes a creamy blonde liquid, for about one minute. This blonde liquid is what separates the Cafecito from other coffee recipes.

Nutrition Facts
Cafecito Recipe (Cafe Cubano)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 36
% Daily Value*
Sodium 24mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 9g 3%
Sugars 9g
Calcium 1.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Best Coffee Bean for a Cafecito

The obvious choice for coffee selection here is a coffee from Cuba, making it an authentic Cuban coffee drink. Due to low production and export volumes however, alternatives need to be considered. Costa Rica is a great option as a substitute, as well as Honduras. A typical Cuban coffee bean is roasted fairly dark, which is enhanced further by the Demerara, and brewed very strong.

Coffee Maker: The Moka Pot (Stove Top Espresso)

Although the Moka pot doesn’t actually make espresso, which has to be placed under 130.5 PSI, it does use water pressurized by steam to create a dark, rich coffee. This high pressure along with the steam extracts more flavor compounds and coffee solids and makes a coffee that has a mouthfeel and body more akin to espresso. The key to making coffee with a Moka pot is patience. Bring the coffee to a boil over moderate heat. Otherwise, you could burn the coffee grinds and burnt tasting coffee.

If you are going solo and want to treat yourself, make a single serving by adding the sugar directly to the espresso pitcher of an espresso maker. Doing so will cause the coffee and sugar to become more viscous than if you simply added sugar at the table. Although traditionally the Cafecito won’t have milk or cream added to it, it’s not uncommon for American’s to add a splash of cream to their espresso.

It’s easy to run to a coffee shop and pick up a few coffees after work for friends and family but for something special that you don’t drink every day, the cafecito is worth the time to make. The extra effort that goes into making a cup of coffee such as the cafecito speaks to the Latin tradition of enjoying social time with friends and family.