All About Cuban Coffee + How To Make Cuban Cafe Con Leche

How to make cuban cafe con leche

My passion for coffee is no secret. (Hi, it’s even in my Instagram bio lol!) Whether it’s lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos or something else… I’m always down for a java fix. Part of me thinks it must be in my DNA… you can’t be Cuban and not appreciate a good cup of coffee, after all! A good Cuban cafe con leche is probably one of my all-time favorite things ever.

If you don’t know about Cuban coffee– let me tell you something, you’re missing out. If you’re looking for maximum caffeine impact… it’s something you need to look into, trust. (Have you ever seen the episode of the Kardashians where Khloe tries Cuban Coffee for the first time and gets totally cracked out/addicted? IT’S HILARIOUS and insanely accurate lol!)

Cuban coffee is basically a high octane blend of caffeine and sugar. Like… if there isn’t a diabetes risk, you’re not doing it right. You can enjoy it in a variety of ways: the Colada, the Cafecito, the Cortadito, or the Cafe Con Leche. Don’t worry– I’ll explain the differences!


The Cafecito is basically just a shot of espresso, prepared Cuban-style. Basically… that means with a ton of sugar. The espresso is brewed, then sugar is caramelized and added to the coffee. Serve as a shot and you have a cafecito.


A Colada is basically a giant Cafecito that you share with a group of people. When you order it, what you basically get is a giant cup of straight Cuban Coffee and you dole out shots. This is a VERY Miami thing by the way!


A Cafe Con Leche is half coffee, half milk. Most of the recipes I see online for Cafe Con Leche, though, are just lattes. If you’re making a Cafe Con Leche, you have to make sure to prepare the espresso properly, or it’s just a latte! I’ll be sharing that recipe today!


A Cortadito is basically a shot of Cafe Con Leche. So it’s kind of between a Cafecito and a Cafe Con Leche!


OK, so how do you make a Cafe Con Leche? First thing’s first, you have to make sure you have all the right ingredients. The two most important things are the coffee and the milk.

The most important step is choosing the right espresso! Cafe La Llave and Cafe Bustelo are two of the most popular… but beware, my Cuban grandmother swears that Bustelo is trash and that Cafe La Llave is the only way to go, so take that for what it’s worth. (She knows what she’s talking about!)

As for the milk, a true Cafe Con Leche is actually made with evaporated milk. So skip the regular cow’s milk and make sure you have cans of evaporated milk. (If not… what you made is a latte!)

How to make an authentic Cuban Cafe Con Leche

Step 1: Brew your espresso.

I always make my espresso in a stovetop espresso pot, but you can obviously prepare your espresso in an espresso machine as well!

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Step 2: Steam your milk.

You can either heat up your evaporated milk on the stovetop or you can just microwave it… which is honestly what I do.

Step 3: Measure out your sugar.

I do two tablespoons of sugar when I’m making a pot of espresso. Measure out two tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl.

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Step 4: Add a splash of coffee to the sugar and stir.

Pour a splash of brewed coffee to the sugar and stir until melted. This whole process is really important and helps get the sugar to the consistency it needs to be to melt into the coffee… you don’t want the sugar to be grain-y. This sugar concoction is called “la espumita” lol.

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Step 5: Pour the sugar back into the coffee.

Pour the sugar mixture back into the coffee and stir and you officially have turned your espresso into Cuban Coffee!


Step 6: Pour the coffee into your milk.

Now you just pour the coffee into your milk (should be 50/50 but that’s up to you!) And voila– you have an authentic Cuban Cafe Con Leche!



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