According to Wikipedia,

Café Cubano (also known as Cuban espresso, Cuban coffee, cafecito, Cuban pull, and Cuban shot) is a type of espresso that originated in Cuba. Specifically, it refers to an espresso shot which is sweetened (traditionally with natural brown sugar which has been whipped with the first and strongest drops of espresso).

Link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_espresso

When I made my version of café Cubano using melted jaggery which is South India's most common version of natural brown sugar, I found that my cup of home-machine espresso has the distinctive taste of cane sugar/jaggery alongside the expected flavor of coffee.

Is the taste of cane sugar distinctly present in authentic café Cubano too, or does it taste just like regular espresso sweetened with refined white sugar, which doesn't leave any specific taste of its own, apart from the coffee?

1 Answer 1


I can’t give you an answer based on tasting the authentic product, but:

The various “brown” or “raw” sugars are characterized by the molasses content, which is part of the original cane sugar juices. This juice has a characteristic flavor profile with notes reminiscent of caramel and malt. In the production of white sugar, they are filtered out, leaving behind the white “just sweet” sugar.

The darker (and sometimes “wetter”) a brown sugar is, the higher the molasses content and the more extra flavor components are in the sugar. In cooking and baking, brown sugars are often used not just as sweetener, but also for the flavor.

The logical conclusion regarding your question is: If brown sugars are used in not-just-minute amounts, they will be noticeable. So the flavor of the Cuban coffee will and should be different from espresso with white/refined sugar. How intense the brown sugar flavor is, depends on how much sugar is used per serving and how dark it is. The term “natural brown sugar” in your source suggests a rather intense flavor, which should be quite similar to jaggery.

  • Thanks a lot for a detailed and really good answer @Stephie -- yes, I remember reading in the Wikipedia article that natural cane sugars are used to impart flavor to traditional desserts (and not just sweetness, is our conclusion): my version of cafe Cubano is right in front of me as I type and the signature taste of sugarcane is very obvious though in a nice way -- but quite an acquired taste, I should say! Nice to know that I could come quite close in flavor to the authentic item. Sep 8, 2019 at 2:58

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