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Best Cuban Coffee To Try (Top 9 Picks)

Short on time? Our top choice is the Volcanica Cafe Cubano Miami Espresso!

Cuban espresso is unique in the coffee world.

Its emphasis on strong, bold, and intense coffee makes it stand out as a coffee.

It can be tough to tell what the best Cuban coffee is, but I’m here to help.

After years of searching for the best Cuban-style espresso, I’ve landed on a few of my absolute favorites.

Let’s jump straight into them!

Best Cuban Coffee: Top 9 Picks

Volcanica Cafe Cubano Miami Espresso

Volcanica Cafe Cubano Miami Espresso

I will always remember the first time I tried Cuban espresso. It was a magical moment. And I’ve been searching for a similar experience ever since.

This Volcanica Cafe Cubano Miami Espresso is The One.

It’s super rich and dark and the best Cuban espresso I’ve had in years. After all, the blend of Central and South American coffees was created specifically for brewing Cuban-style espresso drinks.

Not only that, but the dark roast really brings out the rich and bold intensity needed to create a perfect Cortadito, Cafecito, and cafe con leche.

The notes of chocolate, caramel, and nuts really come through no matter what drink you’re brewing. And they stick around for a while after you’ve had your last sip.

The washed process keeps the entire flavor profile crisp and clean in your cup.

The only downside is that this isn’t a versatile coffee. It’s meant solely for dark espresso.

But you’d be hard-pressed to find a better one on the market right now.

Pros

  • The chocolate, caramel, and nutty tasting notes align perfectly with an ideal Cubano-style espresso
  • The washed process keeps the flavor profile crisp and clean in your cup
  • The dark roast is perfect for creating a deep and rich flavor in a classic Cafecito
  • This blend was created specifically for crafting Cuban-style drinks, so it’s perfect for Cortaditos, Cafecitos, or cafe con leches

Cons

  • It’s not a versatile coffee because it’s too dark to really be used for anything except Cuban espresso
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Lifeboost Luxuriance Dark Roast Espresso

Lifeboost Luxuriance Dark Roast Espresso

Lifeboost is an up-and-coming roaster doing some pretty great things in the world of coffee.

This Luxuriance Espresso blend is a great dark roast addition to the lineup. It’s a blend entirely from Central America, which means the coffee has a nice citrusy note to it.

That citrusy note carries the espresso through the dark roast and into your cup. It ends up balanced and smooth with a good body and aftertaste.

The balance of Luxuriance is what makes it a good pick for creating Cuban style coffee.

The dark roast also isn’t too dark to be unusable as anything else. It’s still balanced enough to be used in just about any kind of brewer.

Lifeboost is organic coffee, and Rainforest Alliance certified. That means that the standards were high throughout the growing, roasting, and packaging processes.

The only thing to note is that this is a more traditional espresso blend. It can sometimes be hard to work with when pulling darker Cuban espresso.

Pros

  • The dark roast espresso isn’t too dark to be unusable, it adds balance and sturdiness to the espresso
  • It’s a blend entirely from Central America, which adds a nice citrusy note to the coffee
  • Lifeboost is USDA Organic, and Rainforest Alliance certified, so you can be sure the processing of this coffee was high-quality

Cons

  • This is a more traditional espresso blend, so it’s sometimes hard to work with when pulling Cuban-style espresso
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Supreme by Bustelo Whole Bean Espresso Coffee

Cafe Bustelo popularized Cuban coffee drinks in the United States nearly 100 years ago.

And they haven’t gone anywhere since.

I trust this brand with my life when it comes to creating rich and intense espresso blends. While it’s not exactly a Cuban coffee brand, the founder did travel to Cuba and brought the Cuban coffee culture with him.

Cafe Bustelo Supreme whole bean coffee is a response to the growing demand for 100% Arabica beans. It’s a complement to their classic espresso blend.

The notes of cinnamon, chocolate, and nuts are the dominant flavors in this coffee. And those flavors help keep the espresso smooth and delicious.

The dark roast Cafe Bustelo Supreme uses balances out the more delicate Arabica beans to create a perfectly smooth coffee.

Plus, it’s a versatile choice. It can be used for the richest Cuban espresso but can also work well when brewed in a drip coffee maker or even as a pour-over.

The only downside is that it’s 100% Arabica beans. Cuban-style espresso is traditionally mostly Robusta beans for the intensity and boldness. This coffee isn’t that.

Pros

  • This is the coffee responsible for the popularity of Cuban espresso in the United States, so it’s very good
  • Notes of cinnamon, chocolate, and nuts are the dominant flavors that help keep this coffee both delicious and strong
  • The dark roast balances out the more delicate beans to create a smooth and rich espresso
  • It’s a versatile blend, so it can handle rich espresso and can be brewed as drip coffee if needed

Cons

  • It’s 100% Arabica beans, which means it has a more delicate flavor than a classic Cuban-style espresso
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Cafe La Llave Espresso Capsules

Even as a trained barista and coffee purist, I still love the convenience of single-serve pod brewers every now and again.

But combining rich, Cuban-style espresso with a single-serve brewer seemed impossible. Until this Cafe La Llave.

It’s an incredibly intense espresso. But it’s still balanced and smooth, just as Cuban espresso should be.

The super dark roast keeps the coffee uniform and consistent. You won’t find much variance from pod to pod, which is huge for me.

Cafe La Llave claims that it’s “Intensity Level 11.” There’s no real way to know the scale, but trust me when I say that it’s a pretty dang intense experience. You almost need to add sugar.

The capsules themselves are dependable and quality. They are nitrogen-flushed, which means that all the oxygen was taken out during processing. That ensures that the coffee inside doesn’t age too quickly and ends up tasting old.

The only downside is that these pods are only compatible with Nespresso Original Line brewers. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to skip this coffee.

Pros

  • It’s an incredibly intense espresso, as a Cuban-style coffee should be
  • The nitrogen-flushed aluminum pods help prevent oxidation and aging, meaning this coffee stays fresh for a long time
  • The super dark roast creates a bold experience that is perfect for creating Cuban-style drinks in your capsule brewing espresso machine

Cons

  • These pods are only compatible with Nespresso Original line brewers, so if you don’t have one, you’ll have to skip this coffee
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Mayorga Decaf Cafe Cubano Decaf Dark Roast

For a long time, I never even considered the possibility of finding good decaf Cuban coffee beans. It couldn’t exist, right?

Wrong. I’m so glad I found Mayorga’s coffee.

It’s a Swiss Water decaf, which means it was decaffeinated with water instead of chemicals (a major plus for the taste and quality). The process keeps the coffee flavorful and delicious.

The dark roast Mayorga uses really evens out the beans and creates a smooth and rich decaf espresso.

And it’s certified USDA Organic. You can be sure that it was held to a high standard through the growing, roasting, and packaging processes.

Plus, Mayorga is a Latino-owned company. It’s truly a Latin-style coffee created for Latin-style drinks. And a huge part of Mayorga’s focus is supporting Latin American coffee production. So it’s a great buy if you’re an ethics-conscious coffee lover.

The only downside is that it’s a 100% Arabica coffee bean. The espresso is a bit more delicate than a truly classic Cuban-style espresso.

Pros

  • The Swiss Water process keeps this coffee flavorful and delicious
  • The dark roast evens out the beans and creates a smooth and rich espresso
  • It’s certified USDA Organic, so you can be certain it was held to high standards throughout the growing and roasting processes
  • Mayorga is a Latino-owned company with a focus on supporting coffee farmers from Latin America, so this is a good buy if you are ethics-conscious

Cons

  • It’s 100% Arabica beans, which means the espresso itself is a bit more delicate than a classic Cuban-style coffee
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Kahwa Cuban Coffee Grounds

Cuban-style coffee drinks need to be rich, smooth, bold, and intense. But they shouldn’t be without a touch of balance.

Kahwa delivered on that last bit better than many other options.

This blend is more of a traditional espresso blend. It’s a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans and has a classic strong and robust flavor. But there’s a touch of sweetness on the finish. That makes it pretty good for creating Cuban-style espresso.

But because it’s a more traditional espresso blend, it’s very versatile. It can be used in an espresso maker just as easily as a drip coffee or pour-over. And that’s Kahwa’s biggest selling point.

The bags Kahwa uses are nitrogen-flushed and sealed with a one-way valve. That means you get fresh-tasting coffee each time you buy a bag. 

The downside to buying such a versatile coffee is that you’re buying versatility instead of quality.

Pros

  • This is a traditional espresso blend, so it has a classic strong, and robust flavor with a sweet finish
  • It’s a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, which means it has the classic Cuban-style flavor with some nuance to the flavor
  • It’s a versatile coffee that’s good for anything from rich espresso to pour-over brews
  • The bags are nitrogen-flushed and sealed with a one-way valve, which means that you get fresh-tasting ground coffee in every bag

Cons

  • It’s caught between being an espresso blend and a regular coffee, so while it’s versatile, there are some better options for each style of brew
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Illy Intenso Espresso Fine Ground Coffee

Illy Intenso Espresso Fine Ground Coffee

Illy produces some of the best bulk coffee deals available to consumers like us.

And let’s be real, buying in bulk is the absolute best value possible when buying coffee. Especially if you plan on making a ton of shareable Cuban espressos.

Illy uses resealable containers to keep the coffee fresh for a long time. That means that buying in bulk doesn’t have to leave you with old and stale coffee.

And the dark roast is absolutely perfect for pulling rich espresso shots. It creates a balanced and smooth body that’s ideal.

It does come pre-ground, but the grind size is spot on. And I mean, you don’t even have to think about it before you start brewing.

Really the only downside is that it’s 100% Arabica beans. Normally that would be a good thing, but with Cuban-style espresso, you want some Robusta beans to give your coffee an extra kick.

Pros

  • Buying in bulk is easily the best bang for your buck when brewing a lot of espressos
  • Illy uses resealable containers to keep the coffee fresher for longer, which means you have more time to go through the coffee before it starts to taste old
  • This dark roast is perfect for creating a rich and bold espresso to use in Cuban drinks
  • It comes in a grind that is spot on for brewing strong espresso

Cons

  • It’s 100% Arabica beans, so you won’t quite be able to recreate the rich and intense body of a classic Cuban espresso
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Volcanica Los Angeles Espresso Blend

Volcanica Los Angeles Espresso Blend

Volcanica’s Los Angeles Espresso Blend is a light roast. But hear me out.

Using a light roast for espresso is a very new-age thing to do. It creates a more delicate and punchier espresso that’s more palatable on its own without milk.

What does that mean for Cuban-style espresso? Well, it means that it’s a brand-new take on the classic.

It works for me. There’s a touch more sweetness in the coffee rather than bold intensity.

The lemon, honey, and berry notes are spot on. They create a punchy and sweet espresso that’s ideal for pulling a touch more concentrated than normal.

Plus, the washed process keeps the flavor profile crisp and clear. You’ll find consistent flavors with each espresso you pull.

And it’s Kosher certified. That means that no chemicals were used throughout the growing, roasting, and packaging processes.

The only downside is that the lighter roast espresso for Cuban-style drinks isn’t for everyone. So tread carefully.

Pros

  • The light roast adds a bit of acidity and brightness to the espresso, which is an interesting new take on the Cuban-style coffee
  • The lemon, honey, and berry tasting notes are spot on and create a punchy and sweet espresso
  • The washed process keeps the profile crisp and clear in your cup, meaning that you’ll find great and consistent flavors
  • It’s Kosher certified, which means that it wasn’t grown, roasted, or packaged with any chemicals

Cons

  • Because it’s a lighter roast, it’s not the most traditional Cuban-style espresso
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Artizan Coffee Cuba Mia Signature Blend

It’s rare to find a coffee with as much authenticity as Artizan Coffee has in Cuban coffee.

Yes, they are still very small roasters, but their co-founders are both from Cuba and currently live in and roast from Miami. You can certainly trust that Artizan knows its way around the Cuban coffee market.

This Cuba Mia blend is a mix of Robusta beans from Indonesia and Madagascar. It also has Arabica beans from South and Central America.

The blend is exquisite for creating great traditional Cuban espresso.

Plus, each aspect of the blend is darkly roasted on its own before being thrown together. That means you get the best flavors from each one.

The only downside is that because the roaster is so small, there can be some variance in the quality of the roasts from batch to batch.

Pros

  • It’s a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans from around the world, which gives this coffee a smooth and classic Cuban-style flavor profile
  • Artizan coffee uses split-roasting, which brings out the best flavors from each aspect of the blend to keep the coffee delicious
  • The dark roasts for each bean are perfect for creating Cuban-style espresso, so you don’t have to worry too much about how you brew
  • The co-founders of Artizan are from Cuba and live in Miami, so you can trust that you’re getting a truly authentic Cuban coffee

Cons

  • Because the company is so small, there can be some variance in quality between the roasts
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Everything You Should Know About Cuban Coffee

Alright, let’s dive into what I look for when I buy coffee to use in my Cuban-style drinks.

There are a few things that are absolutely essential to look for:

What Roast Level Should You Look For?

The roast should almost always be dark. That’s because Cuban espresso is meant to be rich, intense, bold, and strong. Think of a great Moka Pot-type of coffee.

And a dark roast is the best way to achieve that without getting too crazy when pulling your shot.

It’s possible to use a lighter roast. However, I believe it’s much harder to create classic Cuban espresso with a lighter roast. That’s because lighter roasts have punchier and sweeter flavors than darker roasts. And it’s harder to balance that profile with such a strong style of brewing.

BOTTOM LINE
The dark roast is the best coffee for Cuban-style espresso. Using a light roast is possible, but it’s much harder to achieve that classic Cuban espresso profile.

What Flavor Profile Is The Best?

While we’re on the subject of flavor profiles, which one is best for Cuban coffee?

In my opinion, it’s best to look for a flavor profile that’s deep and rich.

Look for notes like chocolate, nuts, molasses, etc. Those notes mean that the coffee will be strong and have a full body. Both of those things are very desirable when crafting Cuban-style espresso drinks.

Personally, I like to find flavor profiles that are geared more toward being smooth. Things like chocolate and earthy notes. I find that those coffees hold their profiles better when pulled strong and combined with sugar.

BOTTOM LINE
I recommend looking for deeper and richer tasting notes. Chocolate, molasses, and nuts are common notes found in good Cuban coffees.

What Kind Of Beans Should You Buy?

Okay, this might come as a surprise, but I’m going to tell you to look for Robusta beans.

I know, I know, that goes against almost everything I’ve ever written and almost all contemporary guidance on coffee beans.

But there’s a good reason I’m telling you to buy Robusta. For one thing, it’s more traditional than any Arabica blend. 

Cuban coffees were first developed with Robusta beans. That’s why they are supposed to taste bold and should be combined with raw sugar.

Second, Robusta beans have a deeper flavor than Arabica beans. They taste thicker and more viscous, which is ideal for Cuban coffees.

Third, they are easier to work with. Robusta bean blends aren’t as finicky as Arabica blends. That means you don’t need to be any kind of good barista to get phenomenal results.

BOTTOM LINE
Against everything you probably know about coffee, find a Robusta blend. The flavors are better and easier to work with when brewing Cuban-style coffees.

My Final Verdict

You can’t go wrong getting the Volcanica Cafe Cubano Miami Espresso.

It’s a super rich and dark coffee that was created specifically for brewing Cuban-style coffees.

The dark roast brings out some incredible flavors, and the blend itself is perfect.

It’s a great choice for brewing thick and intense espresso.

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Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.