Step by Step Guide on How to Make a Cortadito Coffee

For a coffee lover like me, nothing works best then a well-made espresso to get me started with my day. However- the same espresso every day is something that I do not like- and that is when I came across the café Cortadito recipe. A café Cortadito, commonly called as a Cuban espresso, is the espresso that originated in Cuba (no prizes for guessing that!). This espresso shot is sweetened with the help of demerara sugar while being brewed.  On this guide we will briefly talk about on how to make a cortadito.

This Cuban coffee is different- yet not that hard to create. Instead of adding the sugar later- you add the sugar to it while brewing the espresso, which is what adds to the taste.

Cortadito 101

As the name suggests, the cortadido originated in Cuba. Its origins can be traced back to the times when the first espresso machines were brought to Cuba from Italy. These coffees are still a part of the social and cultural setting of the country. Cortadito specifically means the espresso shot with sugar- but it is also commonly used for all the other drinks that use the Cortadito as their base. You can easily find a Cortadito in every coffee shop in Tampa as well as Miami, which makes it an integral part of the region’s cuisine.

Preparing to Brew Your Own Cortadito

I’m pretty sure all that talk about the finest Cuban brew has got you intrigued- and you may want to learn how to make a contradito. For getting started with that, you will need to gather the equipment required (covered in the next section). Let’s go ahead and see how you can brew yourself a cup of Cortadito.

Accessories & Ingredients Required

For the ingredients, you will require:

  • Espresso (any type will do)
  • Sugar: Plain, white
  • Coffee cream(optional)

For getting the espresso ready first, you will require:

  • Coffee beans
  • Coffee grinder
  • A small bowl
  • Water

With that, you will also require certain cookware, which is:

  • An espresso maker (Stove-top or plug-in, either will do)
  • A mixing container: Any metal cream, coffee mug, milk pourer
  • A teaspoon: Avoid using a tablespoon as it is too big

How to Make Cuban Cortadito: Step by Step Guide

Once you have gathered the necessary ingredients, you just need to follow the simple steps up ahead to make your cuban Cortadito.

Step 1: Fill the Espresso Maker With Water

Fill the Espresso Maker With WaterTo get the espresso maker ready, you will need to fill it with water. Depending on the size or fill of the espresso that you are trying to make, add water up to the desired line. This may vary with different espresso makers- you can check the instructions for your specific model for more information.

Step 2: Prepare the Coffee Grind

Preparing the coffee grind is a crucial step in the café Cortadito recipe. You should look for coffee beans that are not more than 3 weeks old. The type of roast is also important here. A dark roast will have less acidity, and gives you a better taste in an espresso as compared to a light roast. For those who prefer lighter roasts due to the flavor, going with that is also acceptable. Ensure that you get a fine grind for the espresso, as coarse grinds do not work as well in espresso machines. Grind enough coffee to fill the filter, and then pack this inside the filter for getting a stronger brew.

Step 3: Prepare to Brew the Coffee

Secure the top of the espresso machine on its base and then the filter for preparing the brew. While you make the brew, ensure that the espresso maker top is open so that you can see the spout while placing it on the stove. Once everything is set, you can start making the brew. Put the stove on high heat, with the water in its base. The brewing process will then begin. Ensure that you catch the 1st few drops of the espresso once it is prepared. You can remove the espresso maker from heat after the first drops of it are brewed.

Step 4: Prepare the Sugar

Prepare the SugarAs the coffee brews, you may want to get started on preparing the sugar. For preparing the sugar, put around ¼ to ½ cups of it in a bowl, and keep the spoon accessible. You can add more or less of the sugar depending on how sweet you would like your Cortadito. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the espresso brew.

Step 5: Caramelize the Sugar

Caramelizing the sugar is an important step in brewing the Cortadito. Take the first few drops that you collected from the espresso maker, and put them in the sugar bowl. You will want to make sure that you pour enough espresso to wet the sugar thoroughly. Stir the mix vigorously for getting the wetness that is needed.  You will have to stay patient here and let the process take its time. When you removed the espresso maker from the heat in the earlier step, you gave it enough time to bloom and have a better flavor.

Step 6: Mix the Brewed Espresso With the Caramelized Sugar

The amount of espresso in the sugar should be sufficient to turn it into a paste. Once that is done, put the espresso maker back on high heat, and let the brewing process complete. After the espresso is completely brewed, turn the stove off. Stir the sugar mix in it quickly. In this step, stirring is crucial- you can over-stir the mixture, but not stir less than what is needed. When you are done with this, you will have a light brown mixture with a gloss appearance. After the espresso finishes and the sugar caramelizes, pour espresso above the sugar mix. Stir gently, making sure that no amount of sugar sticks to the bottom.

Step 7: Add Desired Amount of Cream (Optional)

Add Desired Amount of Cream (Optional)When you see a cap formed on the mixture’s top, you will know that the espresso and caramelized sugar have been mixed properly. After that, you can put cream in the cups that you will be serving them in, if desired.

Step 8: Serve

You can now put the espresso in the serving cups. If you have cream in them, do not stir the mix more. Serve the Cortaditos immediately and enjoy a great Cuban brew!

Watch this video for better understanding:

Tips and Precautions

Learning how to make a Cortadito may not appear that hard, but it is important to remember that this brew is a very delicate one. Even a single mistake can ruin the taste of this great Cortadito recipe. To avoid that, here are a few precautions and tips that you should remember:

  • The type of water you use to brew the espresso makes all the difference. Fresh water without any flavors or odors is what you should go in for. Water that tastes funny or has excess chlorine will ruin the entire taste.
  • For the best taste, dark roast beans are preferred- though you can go with light roast as well. To get the authentic Cuban taste, go with Cuban coffee beans, since the distinct roasting process of these beans gives them the sought after taste.
  • The first few drops of the espresso brew are the most important part of caramelizing the sugar- pay extra attention while brewing, else you will not get the desired flavor.
  • Before you pour, pre heat the cups as well. A finely made espresso can be easily ruined by pouring them into stone cold cups.

Nutrient Facts

Nutrient FactsThe health conscious ones may be worried about what else goes into this Cuban brew. Well- as you may have already guessed, since there is no milk or cream (optional) going into this Cortadito, there is little that you have to worry. However, a few nutritional facts about it that you may want to note (for 1 serving, 1 oz):

  • Total Calories: 50
  • Total Fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 6 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Protein: 4g

Thus, as you can see- with little fat or cholesterol, the Cortadito is amongst the healthiest of coffees that you can enjoy without any guilt!

My Experience with the Cuban Classic

My Experience with the Cuban ClassicI never shy away from trying a new coffee- and this Cuban classic was something that I simply had to try. In my last trip to Florida– I fulfilled this desire in the most authentic way. I had the Cafecito or Café Cubano-, which is a small yet highly potent cup of coffee, and is over two times as strong and sweet as my regular kind. I sipped it down like a shot- and I must say, I have never had something as short, sweet and refreshing!

There is a whole mélange of flavors that hits you at once- it is very strong as well as very sweet, and there is no way to describe that. I was only sure of one thing- I had never had something as strong as the Cuban Cortadito until then, and I was not going to stop having this now!

Learning how to make a Cortadito is not that hard either. The recipe is something that I have tried numerous times. It took me a while to get the perfect café Cortadito feel. I occasionally enjoy the extra Cortadito calories by adding a bit of cream to the cup while making it myself- and I am sure you will like this as well!

Anyone who likes a strong blend must give the Cuban Cortadito a shot. The Miami culture has this coffee deeply engraved in it, and you can get it for less than a dollar there at the cafecito counters. However- with the Cortadito recipe, you can even make it on your own. Think of the Cortadito like your little Cuban retreat- just one shot is enough to make you realize what you have been missing on, and give you a taste unlike any other.


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