Cuban coffee beans have amassed quite the following. This extremely strong dark roast espresso is rarely served without a sweetener due to its bitterness. Even if you’re not a coffee aficionado, you’ll pick up on its distinct boldness.
Usually, you’ll have Cuban coffee one of three ways: a Colada, an espresso shot with sugary foam (this topping is called espuma); Cortado, espresso with steamed (not frothed) milk and usually no sugar; or Cafe con Leche which usually is espresso with an equal amount, if not more, of hot milk.
While it’s nice to have a favorite coffee spot that’ll serve up your favorite Cuban coffee drink, sometimes you want to have the perfect cup of coffee in your own kitchen.
You don’t have to source premium coffee beans from niche suppliers or hipster coffee shops. With a little guidance, you can find the perfect Cuban or Cuban-style coffee to brew at home.
We’re going to break down our top Cuban coffee brand picks so you can find the right brew for your tastebuds.
At a Glance: Best Cuban Coffee Brands
Quick Summary: Best Cuban Coffee Brands
|MAYORGA COFFEE Café Cubano Roast||Check on Amazon →|
|Supreme by Bustelo Espresso Style Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
|Café La Llave Espresso Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
|Chock Full o’Nuts Cuban Roast Ground Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
|CafÃ Bustelo Coffee Espresso||Check on Amazon →|
|Pilon Gourmet Restaurant Blend Espresso Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
Mayorga Organics Café Cubano Roast
Café Cubano is Mayorga’s signature blend. This dark coffee packs in many intense flavors without sacrificing the Cuban-style boldness. It has a nice dark crema and an overall smooth, bold finish.
The full-bodied signature flavor profile has just a hint of vanilla and syrupy smokiness, making it a coffee you may even want to drink black.
In addition to its delicious flavor profile, it’s sustainably produced by small organic coffee farms throughout Latin America (due to trading restrictions in the US, no part of this coffee actually comes from Cuba).
Mayorga gets their gourmet coffee from farms located in Peru, Honduras, and Nicaragua and works directly with coffee farmers to ensure they get full support from the company. It’s also certified Kosher, which can be a pro if that matters to you.
It’s also the least acidic option on this list, making it seem less authentic than a true Cuban coffee. However, whether that’s a pro or con comes down to personal taste.
- Sustainably produced
- True Latin American coffee
- The bold, distinct flavor
- Smooth finish
- Unless you find a deal, this is an expensive coffee
- It might be too strong for new coffee drinkers
Supreme by Bustelo Whole Bean Coffee
Café Bustelo isn’t necessarily known as a luxury coffee brand, but this whole bean coffee tastes pretty luxurious. These whole arabica coffee beans yield a smooth and strong taste.
Bitter, dark, and rich, this coffee makes a fine cafécito and will also taste great with steamed milk without becoming too diluted.
If you’re looking for a real Cuban-style coffee, Supreme may not be quite strong enough (we rate it as slightly weaker than the Mayorga blend). Again, this is going to change for each individual’s taste.
Cuban coffee is exceptionally dark and bitter, and that’s why it’s usually cut with milk or sugar. If you know your preference for coffee strength, this may actually go in the pro column for you.
- Rich taste
- Whole bean
- Wonderful, intense aroma
- A bit pricey
- A little weak compared to other Cuban styles
Café La Llave Cuban Espresso
Café La Llave is a pre-ground coffee with true Cuban Coffee Industry roots. The founders came to Los Angeles by way of Cuba, where their family had been growing and roasting coffee for generations.
Tagged as “by Latin coffee drinkers for Latin coffee drinkers,” this is a great coffee if you want authenticity.
One of the cheaper options on this list, Cafe la Llave isn’t lacking in bold flavor or interesting aroma. This well-balanced dark roast coffee blend has more than a hint of sweetness and a great chocolate aroma.
As it’s pre-ground, it requires little work; you can use it in any coffee or espresso maker you have on hand.
While it’s billed as espresso, we found that this coffee came out stronger brewed in a drip coffee maker. Depending on desired strength, it’ll make a very nice drink out of your espresso machine but may not be strong enough for some.
The amazing flavor is strong enough either way that it’ll go well with a little milk and sugar if that’s what you want.
- The pleasant, enticing aroma
- Works well in any coffee machine
- Earthy aftertaste
- Usually inexpensive, but the price seems to fluctuate
Chock Full o’ Nuts Cuban Roast Ground Coffee
Chock Full o’ Nuts used to actually sell nuts, hence the name. But their coffee game is where they shine. If you’re not on the East Coast, you may be unfamiliar with Chock Full o’ Nuts, but they have been around since opening in New York in 1932.
This strong and bold blend tastes almost as good as it smells (which is amazing! Your kitchen will smell so good). The other reason it made the list is that it’s the only Decaffeinated Cuban blend we recommend.
It’s popular to serve a colada to friends after dinner. If you want an authentic taste that won’t keep you up all night, then this is the blend for you.
You can use this ground coffee in any machine. This blend has the distinction of being both kosher and gluten-free. It also isn’t particularly expensive for the amount you get.
- Bold dark roast
- Amazing smell
- Decaf Cuban-style
- It might be too sweet for some
Café Bustelo Cuban Espresso Coffee
Our second Café Bustelo pick is a pre-ground blend that you can make using any device. There’s a reason this is a top seller in the US, and it’s likely the price. Nothing about it tastes cheap as Café Bustelo makes great cups of coffee every time.
Café Bustelo Whole Bean Espresso coffee is probably the strongest roasted coffee you’ll find at this price, definitely more so than a Folger’s or Maxwell’s. Because of this, it makes an excellent Cafe con Leche or colada.
However, this might be considered more of a medium roast than the full-on dark roast blend of other Cuban-style coffees compared to some of our other picks.
It does have a rich flavor on its own but more of a bitter aftertaste than some other coffees. You’ll almost definitely want to add the milk and sugar. It’s also a very finely ground coffee.
It may not work great with your reusable filter, but it is fine with the disposable paper ones.
- Unbeatable price
- Versatile-make it in anything add anything to it
- The aftertaste is noticeable and bitter
- Weak aroma
Pilon Gourmet Restaurant Blend Coffee
Creamy, robust, and biting, Pilon’s Cuban coffee packs a real punch. Pilon uses 100% arabica beans in this whole bean coffee. And they definitely have a kick to them. It also has a pretty creamy consistency. Overall, there is a lot going on in this coffee.
If you’re taking it as an espresso shot, you’ll notice a bitter taste in your mouth right after, but it looks and smells great all the way through. The strong flavor also holds up well with Cuban drinks’ traditional sugar and milk additions.
Currently, Pilon’s whole bean espresso only comes in a 16-ounce bag, and it will cost you, which is why it’s far down on this list. If you want to try something new, the whole bag may not be worth the punch to your wallet.
- Complex flavor
- Very bitter
- One size
- Very pricey
What to Know About Cuban Coffee
Cuba actually produces very little coffee compared to coffee-juggernaut Colombia (think thousands of bags of coffee compared to millions). And if you’re in the United States, buying actual Cuban coffee is next to impossible.
At the end of the day, everything comes down to personal taste. We gave you an overview of the most common Cuban coffee recipes you may want to make with whichever Cuban coffee brand you pick. But what you want is going to change as you discover more blends.
If you know you want to make cafécitos for your friends, you should get something that will taste great with granulated sugar, like the classic Café Bustelo.
If you know you want something that will add its own unique flavor profile to any mixer or even taste great as a pure espresso shot, then Mayorga is your best bet.
However, Café la Llave may be your top choice if you want something in-between that’s either cheaper or less offensive for a new coffee drinker’s palate.
Remember, Cuban coffee is primarily known for being an extremely dark roast that you will feel going down. It is meant to be strong.
So if you know you like something milder, then pick the blend that may be less authentic but right for you. Know your preferences, and if you have the budget, a taste test is always a good (and fun) option.
So, we’ve given you the best Cuban coffee brands we could get our hands-on. You know all about the coffee, but maybe you need some additional information before you decide. If you still have some questions, here’s what people usually want to know:
Should I Buy Whole Beans or Pre-Ground Cuban Coffee?
Really, this comes down to a matter of taste. For coffee lovers who know what they want, buying the whole bean lets you grind to your desired density.
Most bean lovers swear that grinding at home gives a fresher taste and aroma than scooping Cuban coffee grounds into your machine.
Other people say they don’t taste any difference between the two. Even those that appreciate freshly ground coffee may not want to do that extra step first thing in the morning.
You can always buy a small bag of each and perform a taste test. You may be converted into a whole bean buyer or decide to drop it if you find the right pre-ground coffee beans.
Don’t own a grinder? No problem. If you want to give grinding a try, take a look at our recommendations for the best coffee grinder.
How Should I Brew Cuban Coffee?
There’s no one brewing process to make Cuban coffee. If you’re not in the market to buy a new machine, you can use any coffee or espresso maker.
Café Bustelo’s ground blend states you can use it with many brewing methods including a pour-over coffee maker, espresso maker, stovetop brewer, french press, or really, anywhere. However, the most common way to make Cuban coffee is in a Moka pot.
How Should I Serve Cuban Coffee?
There are three main styles of Cuban coffee drinks. They usually use either milk or sugar, but you can serve it any way you please. Again, Cuban coffee is known for its strength, so adding some kind of sweetener is usually a given.
One very popular way to serve Cuban coffee is by making a sugary foam called espuma to serve on top of the cup of espresso. Check out our cafécito recipe if you’re interested.
Can I Buy Cuban Beans in the USA?
Due to US embargoes on Cuba, this is a standard question. Restrictions have eased, and Nespresso was the first company to bring actual Cuban coffee (as in straight from growers in the Sierra Maestra mountains) into the USA since 1958.
However, direct trade coffee from Cuba is still very hard to find in the US. You will likely encounter a lot of knock-offs before the real thing. Cuban-style coffee is your best bet, and the products listed here mainly come from Latin America to produce that robust flavor.
Our Favorite Pick
Our number one choice is Mayorga Organics Café Cubano Roast for its full-bodied, delicious taste, organic practices, and authentic Latin American flavors. Cafe Bustelo’s Supreme whole bean coffee makes runner up for its equally great taste yet slightly softer aftertaste.
But if you’re looking for a different flavor profile, pre-ground blend, or more budget-friendly option, then there’s something here for you.
The best Cuban coffee brands offer a comprehensive and versatile range of flavor profiles and blends. The top pick could change if you want to serve them using traditional Cuban recipes.
You know your own taste buds best. Don’t be afraid to shop around if you’re trying something new.