When visiting Miami or Cuba, you’ll soon come across locals drinking Colada coffee. So, you may wonder if you can make it yourself.

Colada coffee is a thimble-sized, sweet espresso shot, famous in Cuba and Miami. It has a light, sweet foam on top, and you can make it with a Moka pot or espresso machine. Colada coffee is typically made in a large batch and then shared with friends or family.

This article will explain what Colada coffee is, how to make it, and how it compares with other Cuban coffee types.

Different ways of making Colada coffee

Colada coffee is a Cuban version of espresso. It’s a large cup of sweet, strong coffee poured into smaller, thimble-sized cups for sharing.

It has a layer of foam (or “crema”) on top created by combining a tablespoon of the espresso with a bit of sugar.

Homemade Colada coffee.

Colada coffee, however, is much more than simply espresso and sugar. It’s made in large batches and then shared with several other people, making it the perfect beverage for sharing and enjoying a relaxing conversation.

Now that you have a clear understanding of what Colada coffee is, you might be tempted to make some for yourself to try.

You can make delicious Colada coffee with an espresso machine or a Moka pot. Below, I’ll show you how to make around six servings using both of these methods:

Making Colada coffee with a Moka pot

Making Colada coffee with a Moka pot is the most popular method and takes less than five minutes and two ingredients:

All ingredients needed to make Colada coffee at home.

Here’s how to create tasty Colada coffee with your Moka pot:

  1. Fill the coffee chamber with four tablespoons of coffee grounds. Cuban coffee works best as it’s what locals typically use. Cuban coffee is usually dark-roasted, giving Colada coffee its distinctive strong taste.
  2. Tamp the coffee lightly and fill the water chamber. Tamping down the coffee grounds lightly ensures that the maximum flavor is extracted. However, don’t press it down too much.
  3. Place the Moka pot on the stove over medium heat. Medium stovetop heat ensures that the coffee flows freely and helps manage the pressure in the pot. If you’re in a hurry, you could use hot instead of cold water.
  4. Prepare the sugary mixture in a jug while the Moka pot is heating up. While your Moka pot is on the stove, prepare the surgery mix by combining two tablespoons of brown sugar with the first few drops of coffee from the Moka pot. Beat the sugar mixture until it has dissolved into the coffee, and continue until it forms a beige color with a foamy consistency.
  5. Pour the brewed coffee into the sugar mixture. When your coffee has been brewed, pour it over the sugary mix and stir it gently until it’s well combined. There should be a light foam (or “crema”) on top.
  6. Serve the coffee in six Colada coffee cups. Now you can serve your prepared Colada coffee in six small cups. If you don’t have traditional “tacitas” (the Spanish word for a small cup), you can use espresso cups or shot glasses.

Making Colada coffee with an espresso machine

If you don’t have a Moka pot, an espresso machine works just as well to prepare strong-tasting Colada coffee.

Below is the best way to make Colada coffee with an espresso machine:

  1. Fill the coffee chamber with fine coffee grounds and pack them down tightly. With Colada coffee, the stronger it is, the better, so be sure to pack in as many coffee grounds as possible. The sugar content offsets the bitter and robust coffee taste.
  2. Prepare the sugary mixture in a separate jug. Place two heaped tablespoons of brown sugar into a jug. If you don’t have brown sugar (which has a subtle caramel taste that pairs well with Colada coffee), white sugar is fine, too.
  3. Fill your espresso machine with water, switch it on, and place the jug underneath it. When the espresso machine starts working, capture the first few drops into the jug containing the sugar. Once you’ve done this, replace the jug with your coffee cup.
  4. Create the sugary, foamy “crema.” Stir the espresso and sugar mixture vigorously with a teaspoon or small whisk until it forms a beige-colored, foamy substance.
  5. Pour the espresso into the jug with the sugar foam. When the espresso is ready, pour it into the jug containing your sugary foam. Stir it gently to ensure the sugar dissolves completely, and you can see a light foam on top.
  6. Serve your Colada coffee. Now you can serve your Colada coffee in six tiny cups and enjoy.
Yield: 6 servings

5-Minute Colada Coffee

Colada coffee, ready to drink.

This Colada coffee is the perfect Cuban espresso drink to share with family or friends. It can be made in just a few minutes and has a delicious flavor.

Prep Time 3 minutes
Additional Time 2 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 4 oz (120 ml) of espresso coffee
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) of brown sugar


  1. Start by adding the brown sugar to a bowl large enough to also hold the espresso coffee.
  2. Then, prepare to make two doppio espressos with your espresso machine or an equivalent amount of espresso-like coffee with your Moka pot.
  3. While the espresso is brewing, catch about one tablespoon of espresso and add this to the brown sugar-filled bowl.
  4. Begin mixing and foaming the espresso and brown sugar mixture by stirring vigorously with a tablespoon or using a small whisk.
  5. Once the brown sugar and espresso mixture is foamy, slowly pour the remaining espresso coffee into the bowl and give it a good mix.
  6. Grab your small espresso glasses and slowly pour the Colada coffee into them.
  7. Serve the Colada coffee after making it, and enjoy!


You can substitute the brown sugar for light brown sugar or white sugar, depending on the sugar you have at home.

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Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 19Sodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 4.87gSugar: 4.81g

Best coffee beans for Colada coffee

Colada coffee is best prepared using the same coffee grounds as traditionally-made espresso.

Below are the best coffee beans for making Colada coffee:

Bustelo Supreme whole bean espresso

Although Bustelo is arguably the most popular coffee bean brand in Cuba, they roast their beans in small batches to ensure optimal taste and quality.

Bustelo Supreme Whole Bean Espresso (available on Amazon.com) beans are medium roasted, giving them a milder taste profile than typical dark-roasted Cuban coffee.

Cafe Bustelo Supreme Whole Bean Espresso Coffee
  • Rich and dark, this coffee is especially roasted for espresso or cappuccino

Although this coffee yields a weaker aroma, it has a bitter aftertaste that is sometimes noticeable in Colada coffee due to the added sugar.

Naviera Cuban Style dark roasted coffee

Dark roasted coffee beans are an excellent choice for making Colada coffee as they offer a bold, full-bodied, and rich flavor profile.

Naviera’s Cuban Dark Roasted Coffee (available on Amazon.com) makes an excellent choice for Colada coffee preparation.

Its robust chicory taste profile, with the earthy and slightly woody flavor notes pair well with the added sugar to Colada coffee.

Naviera Cuban Style Dark Roasted Coffee
  • Rich smooth flavor and American made - roasting every day in our new larger facility In Tampa

If you’re sensitive to caffeine, consider this coffee brand as it contains less caffeine than other dark-roasted coffee.

You should also think twice about using this coffee bean if you don’t enjoy the taste of chicory, an earthy and slightly nutty taste.

Chock Full O’Nuts Cuban roast ground coffee

If you like your coffee to have plenty of sweet flavor notes and a floral aroma, Chock Full o’Nuts Cuban Ground Coffee (available on Amazon.com) may be an excellent option for you when making Colada coffee.

The sweet cocoa and flowery notes are well-balanced with a bold, bitter, and slightly sour finish.

Chock Full o’Nuts Cuban Roast Ground Coffee
  • Chock Full o’Nuts ground coffee contains a rich blend of 100% premium coffee beans that have been roasted to perfection

Despite this coffee’s name, it contains no nuts or nutty overtones, and you can buy it in a 10.5oz (298g) can or brick.

Cafe Pilon espresso coffee

Cafe Pilon Espresso Coffee (available on Amazon.com) is incredibly bold and smoky, with slightly earthy flavor notes.

The dark-roasted beans provide a strong coffee taste, which may be too overwhelming if you’re not used to drinking strong espresso.

However, the intense aroma and slight bitterness are perfect for preparing Colada coffee as its sugar content slightly tempers it.

Cafe Pilon Espresso Ground Coffee
  • A unique blend of choice coffee beans

This coffee variety also forms a light, creamy foam after you’ve prepared it. When combined with the Colada coffee’s foamy sugar and espresso mixture, it provides a rich and creamy consistency.

Colada coffee vs. other Cuban coffee types

There are several special coffee types in Cuba, and it can be challenging trying to figure out how they differ from one another.

Here is how Colada coffee differs from other popular Cuban coffee types:

Colada coffee vs. cafe Cubano

Also known as cafecito, cafe Cubano is a Cuban espresso that contains sugar.

It’s prepared in the same way as Colada coffee and features the same light, sweet foam on top. However, instead of preparing the espresso in batches (like you do with Colada coffee), only one serving is made.

Colada coffee vs. Café Con Leche

A direct translation of Cafe Con Leche is “coffee with milk”.

This tasty Cuban coffee is prepared by combining a shot of sweetened espresso with steamed or hot milk.

Unlike Colada coffee (which is served in tiny cups) Cafe Con Leche is served in larger cups and is similar to a latte. It doesn’t contain any sugar (unless you add some afterward for taste) and is a popular breakfast beverage in Cuba.

Colada coffee vs. Cortadito

A Cortadito is prepared in the same way as a Cafe Con Leche. However, instead of being served in a regular coffee cup, it’s put into small, espresso-sized cups.

It’s similar to Colada coffee because it’s considered a social drink and perfect to consume while chatting and relaxing with friends.

Final thoughts

Colada coffee is a social drink widely consumed in Cuba and Miami. The most popular method for making Colada coffee is using a Moka pot, but an espresso machine works well, too.

You’ll need to make a sugar and foam mixture by combining a few drops of espresso and sugar.

The best coffee beans to use for Colada coffee are dark-roasted Cuban beans.

Cuban coffee varieties share many similarities, but Colada coffee is unique because it’s served in tiny cups, prepared in a large batch, containing sugar but no milk.

If you love to make espresso drinks like this Colada coffee at home, you might consider trying out some more espresso-based drinks using the recipes listed below:

More espresso recipes to try

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