Cuba is famous for cigars, tropical weather, and a bit of a rocky past. But, did you know it’s also famous for its coffee?
Cuban coffee is typically grown on small farms, giving it a rich flavor that you won’t want to miss.
So, are you ready to take a sip of Cuban coffee? Here are the best Cuban coffee brands for you to try before you die.
at a glance: Our Top 5 Cuban Coffee Brands
But First, a Bit of Background
Coffee first appeared in Cuba back in 1784, when Haitians brought the plants to the area, although the industry didn’t take off until a decade later.
The reason coffee became a booming industry in the island nation was because the local climate was perfect for growing the beans. The humidity, rich soil, and ocean breezes all combined to make aromatic and high-quality coffee.
Speaking of high quality, Cuba actually has some pretty strict regulations regarding coffee quality. If it doesn’t mean national standards, the coffee can’t be exported.
Most people in Cuba drink their coffee black with a bit of sugar. Today, you can order this as a cubano or a Cuban coffee in many coffee shops. What you’ll get is an espresso shot mixed with a bit of brown sugar.
How Cuban Coffee Is Made
Cuba has its own unique processing traditions, which is part of how the country has come to make such unique coffee!
In Cuba, farmers remove the shell from the coffee beans with a special machine. Then, they ferment the coffee until the fruits lose their stickiness.
Next, the farmers throw away the empty grains and dry the coffee in the open air. Then, they sort the beans by size, weight, and color. The defective beans get thrown away.
Finally, the farmers roast the beans at high temperatures. The roasted beans then get packaged up and shipped out to shops around the world.
Characteristics of Cuban Coffee
Cuba’s unique cultivation process gives its beans a rich flavor and aroma. However, the exact nuances in the flavor vary based on the variety of coffee.
You’ll find either Arabica or Robusta coffee beans in Cuba. The majority of the coffee (as much as 60%!) tends to be Arabica.
Another characteristic of Cuban coffee is that it’s usually quite dark. It’s also particularly strong, giving you a rich coffee flavor and a powerful caffeine kick.
Most Cuban coffee is prepared either as espresso or in a Moka pot. These brewing methods help extract the most flavor from the coffee and enhance that rich, dark flavor we mentioned.
How to Choose the Best Cuban Coffee
So, you’re ready to try some of this Cuban coffee for yourself. How do you pick the best beans?
Well, there are a couple of things you’ll want to pay attention to when picking your coffee. Here are a few factors to keep in mind.
Even though Cuban coffee is generally known as being strong and dark, you can still find a few different roasts out there.
Before diving into buying Cuban coffee, make sure to do a bit of research on what types of roasts you enjoy.
Look for brands that offer coffee in your favorite flavor profile. Sure, you might have to look harder for a lighter roast, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Another thing to look for when hunting down Cuban coffee is the texture. The texture of your coffee will determine how you drink it.
If you’re planning on drinking a traditional Cubano, you’ll want to go for a fine-ground coffee. That way, you can make it into espresso or Moka pot drinks with no problem.
On the other hand, if you just want to enjoy a cup of black coffee, you can go for a coarse roast. Just be warned: it’s going to be one strong brew!
Just like any other type of coffee you’d buy, you want to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
In the world of Cuban coffee, you’ll find everything from super affordable options to expensive, premium blends.
Think about what budget you have for buying your coffee and look into which brands will fit the mark. Otherwise, you run the risk of spending more than you’d planned.
The 6 Best Cuban Coffee Brands
Now that you’ve got a feel for what Cuban coffee is all about and how to find it, let’s talk about the best Cuban coffee brands out there!
1. Bustelo Supreme Whole Bean Espresso Coffee
- The coffee has a rich aroma, so it’s super flavorful
- This blend has a full body, so it’s perfect for mixing with milk or sugar
- It’s a premium coffee, so it’s on the expensive side
This brand has been around for almost 100 years! Bustelo is a brand that’s always received several accolades, even earning first place in several international coffee competitions.
If you’ve been drinking Cuban coffee for a while, you might actually find this blend is a bit light. However, that just makes it the perfect choice for newbies who are just getting into the world of Cuban coffee.
2. Mayorga Cuban Coffee Whole Bean Coffee
- Organic, so you know you’re not getting any unwanted chemicals or additives in the blend
- Kosher, so you can drink it even if you have specific religious stipulations
- Has a smooth finish, which makes it great for easy drinking
- Only comes in small sizes, so you’ll have to restock constantly
- Has a super strong flavor, so it might not be ideal for beginners
This Cuban coffee has a robust flavor. It’s characterized by dark yet bright beans that have quite a syrupy texture.
If you’re interested in trying this coffee, beware! Mayorga’s blends are pretty strong, so they might be a bit harsh for beginners.
On top of that, the coffee only comes in smaller packages which are pricey, to boot. If you’re not careful, you could wind up spending a lot of money on this coffee.
3. La Llave Coffee Cuban Espresso
- It’s affordable, so it works well for those on a budget
- It has an intense aroma, so it’s great for those who love aromatic and flavorful coffee
- It has a smoky aftertaste, so it can be a bit off-putting for beginners
This coffee has a sweet, chocolate aroma that makes for the perfect start to the day. It’s also got quite a high caffeine content, so it’s perfect for adding pep to your step on sleepy mornings.
La Llave Coffee Cuban Espresso is a pretty strong coffee, which can be a bit overpowering for beginners. Still, it’s full of tradition and has that Latin style most of us look for when we buy Cuban coffee.
4. Naviera Coffee Cuban Style
- Contains earthy notes, so it’s got a super-rich flavor
- Has a clean taste, so it leaves a nice finish in your mouth
- Can be a bit expensive, so it may not be within all budgets
If you’ve ever had a cup of New Orleans coffee then you’re familiar with chicory coffee. Chicory is a type of root that adds a rich, woody flavor to beverages.
This coffee is made of ground Cuban beans mixed with ground chicory root. The result is a nutty, dark flavor that’s got a unique aroma to it.
If you’re not familiar with chicory root, drink this coffee with caution. The flavor profile isn’t for everyone.
5. Chock Full o’Nuts Cuban Roast
- It’s kosher certified, so it works well if you have religious stipulations to keep in mind
- It has a complex flavor profile, so it’ll keep you surprised as you drink it
- It’s a premium coffee, so it’s on the pricier side
- It has a sour finish, so it can leave a bit to be desired in terms of after taste
If you’re looking for a bright, sweet coffee with a rich aroma, Chock Full oNuts is the roast for you. This coffee is actually made out of beans from Colombia, but it’s processed in Cuba.
The coffee is Kosher certified and undergoes a special canning process to preserve its quality.
The flavor of the blend is pretty rich, so you’ll get quite a hefty cup of coffee. However, you’ll also get a hefty price tag!
6. Pilon Espresso 100% Arabica Coffee
- It’s super affordable, so you don’t have to break the bank to buy it
- It pairs perfectly with sugar, milk, and other accompaniments, so you can enjoy it in lattes and other beverages
- It has a weak flavor, so you won’t get that same coffee taste you’re used to
- It has a bitter aftertaste, so it can be a bit harsh to drink
Pilon Espresso has an extra fine grind that’s ideal for espresso. You could also use it for a Moka pot. Either way, you’ve got the perfect base for making traditional Cubanos.
This coffee has a fairly bitter aftertaste, but that pairs well with cookies and other treats (great excuse, right?).
One thing to note is that this coffee isn’t very smooth. That can be a bit disappointing if you’re used to the ultra-slick texture of most Cuban coffee.
Sip on Some Cuban Coffee
So there you have it! A quick guide to the best Cuban coffee brands on the market. But, in this rundown, which is the best?
Well, Mayorga Cuban Coffee comes out as the clear winner in this lineup. The texture is silky-smooth and it’s made organically so you know you’re getting a quality product.
Plus, it has that rich, toasty flavor that you look for when you buy a Cuban coffee blend.
Regardless of which blend you choose, however, we’re confident that you’ll love your drink.