How to Make the Perfect Cuban Colada

How to Make the Perfect Cuban Colada

Every morning before school, I’d wake up to the familiar clink-clink-clink of a spoon stirring around a metal cup as my dad toiled over the morning’s coffee. The smell of roasting Bustelo wafting toward my bedroom only meant my dad would come lumbering in any second now to drag me out of bed and into my school uniform.

As an adult, the daily clink-clink-clink sound became the promise of an awesome, new day. Sweet, delicious cafecito is here to punch you in your face, and you’re going to like it.

A cafecito, or Cuban espresso, is basically an espresso shot that is sweetened with sugar while it’s being brewed. It’s pure electricity running through your veins. Side effects include increased productivity, hallucinating rainbows and unicorns, and falling madly in love with the person who made it for you. I’ve experienced several episodes where I’d walk around the office in a post-cafecito daze, wondering if I’ve developed feelings for the office cleaning staff.

Coffee and Rainbows

A colada is just a larger, more shareable version of a cafecito. It’s a caffeinated orgy full of complicated emotions. Be careful with whom you share coladas with.

Cuban Colada

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

  • Espresso
  • Sugar


  • Espresso machine
  • Metal cup
  • Another random cup
  • Metal spoon (a plastic one will do, but metal is better – you’ll see why in a second.

1. Fill your espresso machine with the coffee grounds. Squeeze it in, pack it in tight. The more you can get in there, the punchier it’ll be.

Cuban Colada

2. Add 2 big spoonfuls of sugar to your metal coffee cup. I’m crazy, so I do it freehand.

Cuban Colada

3. Turn on the machine and capture the first couple of coffee drops with your metal cup, just enough to moisten the sugar. Quickly replace with another (empty) cup to catch the rest of the coffee. I’ve heard from several sources that the first few drops of coffee are the most critical. It’s been said to be the most aromatic and to contain the most oil (making the result much more syrupy.) Others just say it’s tradition. I say, don’t angry the Cuban coffee gods and make sure you catch those first few drops.


4. Stir the moistened sugar vigorously with your metal spoon. Stir it like you freakin’ mean it. Seriously. Do a little dance while you’re stirring it. Make that clink-clink-clink noise, goddamnit. Do it until it turns light brown, then do it some more.

5. Slowly pour the rest of the coffee into your metal cup. Stir it to make sure all of the sugar dissolves. Serve it immediately to people who will now love you forever.


If you’re that unlikeable son-of-a-bitch at the office, or there’s a special someone you want to impress (note: gringos love coladas) make them a cafecito, or share a colada with them. At the very least, you’ll get an ego-boosting fist-bump the next day.

  • Mache Cherche

    Step 1. is wrong. So wrong. DO NOT pack the handle of your espresso machine with as much coffee as it will hold and push it down hard: this will compact the coffee grounds too tightly and the water will not be able to move through them properly. If the water can’t go through at the right speed, the coffee will be bitter and overextracted. If there is too much coffee in the handle, it will physically burn through contact with he machine. You need to fill the handle to just over full, and run your finger across the top to leave a small domed shape. Then, using a tamp, gently press the coffee flat into the handle. If you fill the handle correctly, you’ll get a MUCH better coffee. If you don’t, your coffee will be gross. Fortunately, most places that sell espresso machines will provide you with a free training course on how to use it, or you can take a barista training course over a weekend. The key to any good espresso based coffee is to produce a perfect shot of espresso, and a bad espresso shot will ruin even the sugariest and most delicious beverage recipes.

    • Hi Mache, thanks for sharing that. You’re definitely right, and every move counts in this process. I’ll get the instructions updated! 🙂

      • Jony Privat

        She never updated anything

        • Trip Affleck