What is a Colada? A Simple Guide to Cuban Coffee

Ok, so what is a Colada?

According to Gloria Estefan, “Cuban coffee is very powerful, very sweet, and a little dangerous… just like the people who drink it.”

Beloved by Cubans and Miami locals, the colada is a popular way of enjoying Cuban coffee. But exactly, what is a colada?

Essentially, coladas are Cuban espresso coffee and sugar. Lots of sugar. What makes them special the how they’re served. To understand what a colada is, you need to know the basic types of Cuban coffee.

Keep reading and you’ll be able to order your cafecito in Miami without fear!

Types of Cuban Coffee

There are four types of Cuban coffee: cafecito, colada, cafe con leche, and my favorite, the cortadito.

Here’s a guide to help you order the right cafe Cubano:


Cuban cafecito is basically a Cuban espresso. It’s typically brewed in a stovetop percolator espresso maker that the Italians call Moka – Cubans refer to it as “la cafetera” (the coffee maker). They say that the older the cafetera, the best the cafecito but in my opinion, the espumita is the key.

Espumita (es-pu-mee-tah) is the frothy layer of foam that tops the cafecito. To make the foam, you’d put sugar (preferably demerara brown crystals) on a metal milk creamer or another container and mix it with the first little drip of coffee to come up in the cafetera until it’s creamy.


While the cafecito is an individual portion, the colada is for sharing. Traditionally, a colada comes in a 4oz styrofoam cup that you use to pour the coffee onto smaller plastic cups. Don’t be fooled by the size – these tiny shots of sugar and coffee pack a punch!

Tip: Pinch the mouth of the styrofoam cup before serving others – it will make pouring the cafecito on the tiny cups a lot easier!

Café con Leche

Cafe con leche is the Cuban latte. A lot of milk and a shot or two of sweet Cuban espresso. Normally, whole milk is used unless you request 2% or


Finally, the cortadito. It’s pure Cuban espresso goodness with a little bit of steamed milk. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try it with evaporated milk with your cafecito instead.

Final Thoughts

Cuban coffee is a part of everyday life in Cuba and the cafecito culture made its way to Miami. If you’re a coffee lover, you have to try Cuban coffee. Sharing a colada is a social occasion and you’ll find yourself in deep conversation with strangers by the ventanita.