pinterest tag

Coffee Colada: A Cuban Coffee Recipe For Your Best Homies

small cuba espresso cup beside sunglasses, coffee colada

Heads up: This content is reader-supported, meaning we may earn a small commission if you click on some of our links.

You haven’t heard of coffee colada, you say? Well, good news, you’re in for a treat. Coffee colada is a delicious and sweet Cuban coffee drink perfect for those who love their coffee with a little extra kick.

So, what exactly is a coffee colada? It’s a small shot-sized portion of strong and sweet coffee that is served with a rich crema on top. Although it’s often called “Cuban espresso,” it’s not prepared using an espresso machine. 

Instead, it’s made by brewing four to six servings in a stovetop espresso brewer and then whisking a tablespoon of the espresso with brown sugar to create the crema. It’s typically served in small plastic cups for sharing among friends, making it the perfect drink to enjoy with your coffee-loving buddies.

If you’re a fan of coffee, then you need to try a coffee colada. It’s a unique and flavorful way to enjoy your coffee, and it’s perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Plus, sharing a coffee colada with friends is a great way to bond and connect over your love of coffee. 

orange vintage car on Cuban street with bright buildings

The Origin of Coffee Colada

This sweet, creamy, and strong coffee from Cuba has become a staple in Miami’s Cuban communities. But where did this unique coffee concoction come from?

The origin story begins in Cuba, where coffee is not just a drink but a way of life. Cuban coffee culture is deeply rooted in the country’s history, and the drink has become an essential part of the Caribbean island’s identity.

Cuban-style espresso, also known as Cafecito or Café Cubano, is the foundation of coffee colada. It’s a strong and robust espresso shot that is sweetened with natural brown sugar, whipped with the first and most concentrated drops of espresso and served in a small cup.

Bialetti Moka Pot
Bialetti 9-Cup Moka Pot

But why stop at just one cafecito when you can share the love with your friends and family? That’s where the coffee colada comes in. It is a large pot of cafecito brewed with a stovetop coffee maker with a hefty spoonful of brown sugar and served in shot-sized portions.

Coffee colada has become a symbol of Cuban drink culture, and it is no surprise that it has spread beyond the shores of Cuba to Miami and other Cuban communities worldwide. It is a drink that brings people together and is often served during special occasions and celebrations.

moka pot brewing coffee on stove

The Art of Brewing Coffee Colada vs. Cafecito

So, how do you make the perfect coffee colada? What’s the difference between a coffee colada and a cafecito (or Café Cubano)?

First, you need the right equipment. Coffee Colada is prepared using a stovetop espresso maker, or Moka pot, for a group, while a cafecito is often made with an espresso machine for a single serving. 

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

The main difference between a colada and a cafecito is the batch size and how the brown sugar is added to the coffee. In a colada, the sugar is whisked into the crema in a separate cup to create what’s known as espumita (or sugar foam), then added back to the larger pot of brewed coffee.

In a cafecito, the brown sugar is added to the espresso machine portafilter on top of the puck and then gently tamped. The water passes through the brown sugar and coffee grounds simultaneously, producing a sweet and rich espresso shot.

Both beverages require the proper coffee. We recommend using Cuban espresso beans or other strong coffee from Cuba for the most authentic taste. 

cafe cubano coffee beans in burlap sacks

The Unique Flavor Profile of Coffee Colada

This Cuban espresso has a unique flavor profile that’s hard to resist. It’s no wonder that it has gained immense popularity in the U.S. over the years.

So, what makes Colada coffee so unique? Well, it’s a sweet coffee drink served in tiny cups. It has a robust yet refined flavor with a pleasant aroma that’s hard to resist.

Now, let’s talk about the ingredients that give Colada coffee its unique flavor. First, there’s the coffee itself. Cuban beans are the main ingredient for the colada. Both robusta and arabica are grown in Cuba, but arabica is the type used for the colada. 

The best quality coffee comes from the Sierra Maestra region. Unfortunately, finding coffee from Cuba is more challenging due to geopolitical reasons.

Next, there’s the sugar. Brown sugar is typically used to sweeten the coffee. It’s added to the espresso’s crema, which gives the coffee a unique sweetness that’s not too overpowering.

Milk may also be added to the coffee to create a drink called a cortadito or café con leche (depending on the ratio of milk to coffee). These drinks are made by adding steamed milk to the colada coffee. It’s a delicious way to enjoy the unique flavor profile of colada coffee.

four hands toasting colada coffee cups

Coffee Colada: A Social Drink

When it comes to coffee, Cubans take it seriously. Not only is coffee a staple in Cuba, but it’s also a social drink that brings people together.

Enter the coffee colada, a small cup of sweet, strong espresso that people share. You might see it sipped from plastic, styrofoam, or demitasse cups. But no matter the vessel, the coffee colada cup is always a Tacita (a small cup).

But colada coffee isn’t just a drink. It’s a symbol of Cuban communities and coffee culture, a way to connect and share stories over a cup of joe.

So next time you’re in a Cuban restaurant or neighborhood, don’t hesitate to ask for a coffee colada. You might make new friends over a few small cups of espresso.

small black espresso cups with colada coffees

Colada Coffee Recipe

Colada coffee is simple to prepare. You only need a few supplies: coffee, sugar, and patience. And, of course, a few of your homies to share it with.



  1. Fill the bottom of the Moka Pot with filtered boiling water up to the safety valve.
  2. Fill the filter basket with freshly ground fine-ground coffee (amount will vary depending on Moka pot size, we recommend a 10:1 ratio) and gently tamp it down.
  3. Screw the top of the Moka Pot tightly and place it on medium heat, leaving the lid open for brewing.
  4. While the coffee is brewing, use a spoon to extract two tablespoons of crema from the top chamber of the Moka pot.
  5. In a separate vessel (a frothing pitcher works well), whisk the crema with two tablespoons of brown sugar until it is light tan and frothy.
  6. Once the coffee is finished brewing, pour it over the espumita (sugar foam) and stir gently to combine. A layer of crema should rise to the top.
  7. Divide the coffee into six tacitas (espresso cups or shot glasses).
  8. Serve and enjoy!
espresso in small white espresso cup with moka pot in background

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the deal with coffee colada? Is it just a fancy name for Cuban coffee?

Well, yes and no. Coffee colada is a type of Cuban coffee traditionally served in a communal cup and shared among friends. It’s a social drink meant to be enjoyed in good company. 

Colada coffee differs from cafecito or café Cubano as it is brewed in a larger batch and then served in smaller portions, usually in shot glasses.

Can I add coconut milk to my coffee colada for a tropical twist?

Of course! While traditional coffee colada contains just coffee and sugar, there’s no reason you can’t add a twist to it. A colada coffee with steamed milk is known as a cortadito or café con leche, depending on the ratio of milk to coffee, and there are no rules about which type of Leche you choose.

Coconut milk is a great addition that can give your coffee colada a tropical flavor. Just be sure to use unsweetened coconut milk so you don’t overpower the natural sweetness of the coffee.

cortadito in small glass cup on black grate

Miami has a large Cuban-American population, so it’s no surprise that colada coffee is a popular drink in the city. But it’s not just the Cuban-American community that loves coffee colada. It’s a delicious drink that’s perfect for sharing with friends and a great way to start your day with a little extra energy.

If I drink enough colada coffee, will I start speaking Spanish fluently?

We wish it were that easy! While a coffee colada might give you extra energy, it won’t magically make you fluent in Spanish. But it’s worth a shot, right? We suggest enjoying this delicious drink with a few Spanish-speaking buddies to improve your skills while getting caffeinated.


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters