I've visited Cuba this summer. As you may guess, I visited a few coffee plantations. Also, many famous coffee houses.

Before my visit, I thought that “Cuban coffee” is some kind of espresso with a little bit of sugar in it added during tamping. Thus, sugar is mixed during extraction as in Turkish coffee in brew time.

However, while was in Cuba I never ever experienced anybody added any bit of sugar in the grounds. So, I watched the whole set up carefully and realized that the sweetness in the Cuban coffee is not the result of the added sugar, but the over roasting of the coffee.

As far as I understood, the “Cuban coffee” is sweet as it is caramelized during the roasting process but not as a result of the added sugar. However, I would like to verify my observation with other coffee enthusiasts observations before finalizing my decision.

Therefore, the question could boil down to whether the Cuban coffee have additional sugar in it?

To help you visualize what I'm talking about, I provide a picture of some over-roasted Cuban (Caturra) beans at a plantation near Viñales, Cuba. Over-roasted Cuban beans (Caturra) at a plantation near Viñales, Cuba.

2 Answers 2


I wouldn't say that beans that have been roasted this much are sweeter. At some point, when the bean turns black the sugars break down into carbon and a brew with those beans would be less sweet than with a standard medium espresso roast. I guess somewhere at around the second crack the sugars will be gone and only "charcoal" is left.

So I'm assuming they either mixed the ground coffee with the sugar before you saw the coffee or you somehow missed it otherwise. Because a sweet cup with those black charcoaly things seems unlikely if you don't put sugar in it. As far as I know cuban coffee is indeed coffee with some kind of brown raw sugar mixed in it.

  • This was what I've known. However, after continuously encountering this, I got confused. I wonder if anybody else witness something similar.
    – MTSan
    Dec 12, 2017 at 9:06
  • They may add the sugar straight after roasting. When the sugar if very fine and the roast is shaken vigorously, it will probably stick to the beans nicely.
    – JJJ
    Jun 6, 2019 at 8:29

Cuban espresso is sweetened with raw sugar as it is being brewed

  • To clarify, the sugar is added to the cup that the coffee is brewed into.
    – Evan Nowak
    Dec 13, 2017 at 20:10

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