Coladas, A Cuban Kind Of Coffee

Calling all caffeine lovers, this one is for you.

The Cubans have a really unique relationship with coffee and after one sip of a Colada coffee, you won’t doubt this. It can be tasted in each and every sip.

Coladas, A Cuban Kind Of Coffee

When the Cubans were faced with a shortage of the good stuff, they came up with some really creative ways to both enhance and strengthen their coffee to make a super delicious drink.

Colada coffee is the perfect example of this. But what exactly is a Colada? Well, it’s a very sugary shot of espresso.

It’s the perfect morning shot to have you buzzed and energized for the day ahead.

This coffee is a signature drink that signifies the comradery of the culture in a small singular cup.

You should never sip at this alone, sit around a table and sip away with your family or friends.  

What Is Colada Coffee?

To make a colada coffee you’ll usually brew the beverage on a stove-top with an espresso brewer.

Typically, prepared this way, it’ll make approximately 4-6 servings.

Once brewed, the mixture is then whisked with a little bit of sugar. Usually, it’ll be served in a small plastic cup. 

There’s quite a fair bit of history when it comes to Cuba and coffee. And previously, there was even a trade embargo and major coffee shortages.

I know, I couldn’t bear to imagine it either!

There was that little rumor around at one point that people would even mix the coffee with roasted chickpeas just to keep it going that little bit longer.

So it’s quite apparent that Cubans are happy to do what needs to be done to ensure that caffeine fix. Someone after my own heart. 

Thankfully, things are much better now. Cuba actually produces and sells its own organic coffee to many parts of the world.

To make the drinks now, they’ll use a coffee called Arabica which they brew in Moka pots.

The strength of the coffee is around 25mg of caffeine per 2 oz of coffee. 

What Makes A Good Tasting Colada?

Coladas, A Cuban Kind Of Coffee

Of course, a colada will taste the nicest in Cuba itself.

If you are lucky enough to visit I can’t even say you should try a colada, it is simply a must.

Trust me, you won’t taste anything quite like it. But what about the rest of us, who can’t quite justify flying to Cuba for a cup of coffee (as much as we would love to.)

Well, you’ll just have to learn how to make it yourself. Luckily, that’s what I’m here for.

First of all, you’ll need to purchase some authentic Cuban coffee, and then once you’ve done that you’ll need to learn how to prepare it correctly.

Here are some things you’ll need/need to know. 

Authentic Cuban Coffee

It will probably come as no surprise that the main ingredient in a Colada is coffee beans.

There are two types of coffee beans that are produced in Cuba and they are Robusta and Arabica.

If you’re trying to truly recreate this drink, you’ll want to opt for the Arabica bean as that is what is usually used in a colada.

A little tip for you, if the absolute best of the best comes from Sierra Maestra so if you can get your hands on beans produced here you’ll be certain to have a high-quality coffee. 

However, due to geopolitical reasons, you’ll probably struggle to actually purchase an authentic Cuban coffee bean so if you cannot find the actual coffee beans opt for brands such as Pilon or Cafe Bustelo who specialize in Cuban-style coffee. 

The Espuma

No colada is ever complete without the frothy Espuma. This is where the brewed coffee is mixed together with the sugar until it turns frothy.

Delicious! If you want to keep with tradition you’ll want to use brown sugar as this is what was more accessible to the Cubans during the 1960s.

However, you can always use white sugar too, if you don’t have any brown sugar to hand. Just make sure that your sugar is granulated. 

Use A Moka Pot

Coladas, A Cuban Kind Of Coffee

Traditionally, colada is always made in a Moka pot.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Caribbean household that doesn’t have a Moka pot in their cupboards.

A colada will definitely taste the nicest if it’s made in a Moka pot due to how finely the coffee is ground but it is possible to use in an espresso machine if you don’t have one of the pots.

However, it will not work if you use a French press or an Aeropress. 

Pressurized steam passes through the coffee grounds, which brews a robust and dark delicious tasting coffee. 

Share Your Coladas

In Cuba, colada is seen as a social drink that is very rarely ever drank without company. You should serve your coffee in a small cup.

The coffee was originally served this way to help preserve that caffeine-rich delicious drink – small but strong cups of coffee helped to keep the ever-popular coffee culture alive. 

So serve up and enjoy with friends either for an early morning boost or an after-meal treat. 

Don’t Get Confused

Now, it’s important to remember that the Cubans really love their coffee.

This means that there are many types of drinks that are similar but not quite a colada.

Don’t get a colada confused with these other popular Cuban coffee drinks. 


It is easy to get this drink confused with a Colada because they are both espresso drinks that are served in similarly small-sized cups.

But there is a difference between the two. A cortadito has another ingredient – milk.

The two drinks do taste fairly similar so if you find a colada a bit too bitter you might prefer this beverage that is made with sweetened condensed milk. 

Cafe Con Leche

Another traditional coffee that is sold in small cups. Are you starting to spot the pattern here?

The cubans were very good at creating tasty coffee in smaller doses to preserve it!

This beverage is made with 80% espresso and 20% milk.

Now, this is even sweeter than both the colada and the cortadito. 

Coffee Colada

This may seem a little confusing but a colada coffee and a coffee colada are two very separate things.

Same words, different order, very different drink. By now, we’re well aware of what a Colada coffee is. But what is a coffee colada?

Well, it’s a tasty coffee-flavored version of a pina colada. What I will say, is that you should also try this drink as it is delicious.

Don’t worry, if you don’t drink alcohol because you can also get virgin coffee Coladas too! 

Final Thoughts

While to me and you, this beverage might simply just be viewed as a very tasty cup of coffee, it’s important to remember that in Cuban culture, it signifies much more than that.

The Cubans really had to get creative in order to preserve a drink that at one point really looked like it was on its way out.

This beverage really represents the endurance of the people as well as a true love and respect for a drink that is so popular across the globe. 

Jim Stanton
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