espresso maker

Cuban espresso

Cuban coffee (café cubano, cuban espresso, cafecito, cuban pull, cuban shot) is a type of espresso which originated in Cuba after espresso machines were first imported there from Italy. Specifically, it refers to an espresso shot which is sweetened with sugar while it is being brewed, but the name covers other drinks which use Cuban espresso as their base. Drinking café cubano remains a prominent social and cultural activity within Cuba as well as the expatriate community.


Cuban-style espresso is made by adding raw sugar to the container where the espresso grounds will be brewed with hot water in the espresso machine. This enables the resulting drink to have the strength of espresso, but with a smooth, sweet flavor that is unobtainable by simply mixing sugar into a regular espresso. A proper cafecito should be made using an espresso machine, but it can also be made at home using a stove top espresso maker. There is a misconception that a properly made cafe cubano has a small layer of chocolate brown colored foam, called espumita, at the top. However, any shot of espresso made from a good machine should have the espumita regardless of whether sugar is added to it or not. The misconception exists because users of stove top espresso makers can imitate this effect by mixing the first drops of espresso with sugar to create a paste. When the rest of the espresso is added to the mixture an espumita like substance appears.


Cortadito, which in Spanish literally means "little cut", is an espresso topped with steamed milk. It can be between 50/50 to 75/25 espresso and milk. It is similar to a cortado served in other countries, but pre-sweetened.

Café con leche, or "coffee with milk", a Cuban espresso served alongside a cup of hot or steamed milk. Originally served separately, the cafecito is dumped into the glass of hot milk and stirred in. It is the traditional Cuban breakfast beverage, served with slices of buttered, toasted cuban bread that are dunked in the coffee cup. In addition, traditional Cuban "café con leche" contains a pinch of salt (popularized by the Chinese immigrants who arrived in 19th century Cuba) and a pinch of butter, giving it a unique taste.

Colada, 4-6 shots of cafecito served in a large cup along with small demitasse glasses. Meant to be shared.

The most important aspect of some Cuban espresso varieties is that they are sweetened while the espresso is being brewed.


It is common for Cubans to drink café cubano first thing in the morning, after meals and sometimes as a social and cultural activity. Whether someone comes to visit your home, or a chance meeting on the street, following the initial "hello," an offer is always extended to have a "café."

Finer Cuban restaurants will serve a patron a glass of water to cleanse the palate before drinking the espresso, although some Cubans think the water is to dilute the café once it hits your digestive system. For purist coffee drinkers, drinking water after the espresso brands one as a non-appreciative espresso drinker. In some circles, an acceptable end to a Cuban espresso is to lightly dunk the tip of a Cuban cigar in the bottom of the demitasse and then light it up. A shot of Cuban espresso is typically served in small amounts and is not drunk from a large coffee cup.

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