How to make the perfect cup of Café Bustelo?

Café Bustelo is a strong, bold, Cuban-style espresso known for its intense and rich coffee flavor. Making the perfect cup of Café Bustelo requires using the right tools, techniques, and ingredients to bring out the best of this dark roast coffee’s unique taste and aroma. With some basic brewing knowledge and the right equipment, anyone can make a mug of smooth, robust Café Bustelo that lives up to the brand’s “Poco a Poco Fuerte” motto.

What Makes Café Bustelo Coffee Unique?

Café Bustelo uses a special dark roast technique that gives the coffee an extra bold, strong flavor. The beans are roasted until they reach a very dark color, just before second crack, bringing out the oils and creating an intense, smoky taste. This dark roasting also removes most of the acidity from the beans, giving Bustelo a smooth mouthfeel.

In addition to the dark roast style, Café Bustelo uses a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. The Robusta beans have almost twice as much caffeine as Arabica and add to the coffee’s strong flavor. Combining these two types of beans creates a bold, highly caffeinated coffee perfect for a strong espresso shot.

Café Bustelo is meant to be brewed and enjoyed using the espresso method. The dark roast and special bean blend are designed to be extracted under high pressure, which gives the coffee a thick, syrupy consistency and dense crema on top. This traditional espresso preparation is key to achieving the ideal Café Bustelo flavor.

Choosing the Right Coffee Maker

To replicate the authentic Café Bustelo espresso experience at home, you’ll need the proper coffee maker. There are several options for making great espresso with Café Bustelo:

Stovetop Espresso Maker

Stovetop espresso makers, also known as Moka pots, are one of the most traditional ways to brew Café Bustelo. This simple, stovetop device uses steam pressure to push hot water through the grounds to quickly extract espresso-style coffee.


  • Inexpensive compared to other espresso machines
  • Makes strong, concentrated coffee perfect for Café Bustelo
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Produces coffee with thick, foamy crema

Espresso Machine

Home espresso machines give you commercial café-quality results by using high pressure to extract the coffee. There are manual, semi-automatic, and super automatic versions available.


  • Allows control over pressure and extraction
  • Can customize shot strength and volume
  • Produces thick crema just like cafe espresso
  • Works well with Café Bustelo’s fine espresso grind

Stovetop Espresso Pot

Stovetop espresso pots provide an immersive, hands-on espresso experience. They work by creating pressure in a bottom chamber that forces hot water up through the grounds.


  • Fun, engaging brewing process
  • Makes strong concentrated coffee
  • Lower cost than pump espresso machines
  • Produces café-style frothy crema

Any of these coffee maker options can produce delicious Café Bustelo espresso. Choosing between a stovetop maker, an espresso machine, or a stovetop pot comes down to your budget and preferences for brewing methods.

Choosing the Right Grind

Using the proper grind size is key to optimizing extraction and flavor when brewing Café Bustelo. The fine particle size needed for making espresso is what enables the hot water to properly extract the coffee’s oils and solubles.

Here are some tips for choosing the right grind size:

  • Use a fine or espresso grind. This very fine texture prevents the water from passing through too quickly.
  • Avoid a powdery, flour-like texture which can lead to over-extraction.
  • If you don’t have an espresso grinder, use the finest setting on a standard burr grinder.
  • Ask your local café to grind beans on their commercial espresso grinder.
  • Buy pre-ground Café Bustelo coffee labeled for espresso machines.

Testing out different grind sizes and making adjustments is part of the process of dialing in the perfect Café Bustelo espresso. Taking notes will help you determine if you need a finer or coarser setting.

Using the Right Espresso to Water Ratio

The proper ratio of ground coffee to water is vital for making balanced Café Bustelo espresso. Too much or too little of either one will lead to weak, watery coffee or overextracted bitterness.

Here are some guidelines for the ideal espresso to water ratios:

  • Use 2 tablespoons finely ground coffee per 1 ounce of water.
  • For a double shot, use 1/4 cup of grounds and 2 ounces of water.
  • Maintain a 1:2 brew ratio. For example, 14 grams of coffee to 28 grams of water.
  • Adjust the amount of grounds to dial in the flavor based on your taste preferences.

Keep in mind that Café Bustelo is a darker, bolder roast meant to be extracted in small servings. Using the proper coffee to water ratios intensifies the flavor of each concentrated shot.

Water Temperature

Heating the water to the ideal temperature range is vital for proper extraction of Café Bustelo’s robust flavor oils. The Specialty Coffee Association recommends hitting a water temperature of 195°F to 205°F for optimal espresso extraction.

Here are some tips for heating your brewing water:

  • Use a electric kettle with temperature control settings.
  • Bring water to a rolling boil, then let it rest about 30 seconds off heat.
  • For stovetop brewers, make sure the bottom chamber is hot before adding water.
  • Use a thermometer to check that you are in the 195°F – 205°F range.

Starting with hot water is crucial, but don’t let it sit too long and lose heat. Keep the brewing process moving once the water hits the ideal espresso temperature.

Use Fresh, Purified Water

The quality and freshness of the water used is one of the most important factors when brewing Café Bustelo espresso. Here are some tips for using the right water:

  • Always use fresh, cold water. Do not reuse hot water.
  • Avoid tap water high in minerals like calcium and chlorine which impact flavor.
  • Use purified or filtered water if possible.
  • Let cold water run for a few seconds to flush pipes and freshen the supply.

High quality H2O allows the full flavors of Café Bustelo to shine through in the cup. Test out bottled spring water or filtering your tap water to get the best tasting homemade espresso.

Pulling the Perfect Café Bustelo Espresso Shot

Once you have the right coffee maker, grinds, water, and ratios dialed in, the final step is mastering the espresso pull. Here are some tips for extracting the ideal Café Bustelo shot:

  • Use freshly ground Café Bustelo beans within 2 weeks of the roast date.
  • Distribute the grounds evenly in the filter basket before tamping.
  • Tamp using 30-40 lbs of pressure to compact the grounds.
  • Start the brewing process immediately after tamping to prevent air pockets.
  • Extract the espresso slowly over 20-30 seconds.
  • Stop the pull when you have 1-2 ounces of thick espresso in the cup.

Pulling the perfect shot takes some practice. Evaluate each one and adjust the grind size, dose, or brew time to achieve the ideal Café Bustelo flavor balance.

Choosing the Right Espresso Cups

To fully experience the aromas and taste of your Café Bustelo properly, use an appropriate espresso cup. Here are some tips for choosing cups and glassware:

  • Use small 2-3 oz cups made specifically for espresso.
  • Choose thick, heavy-walled cups that retain heat well.
  • Ceramic, glass, and stainless steel all work well.
  • Avoid paper or foam cups which impact flavor.
  • Pre-heat the empty cups with hot water or steam before pulling shots.

The right cup helps maintain the ideal drinking temperature to keep the crema intact and aroma strong. Small sizes also let you appreciate the concentrated flavor of the Café Bustelo espresso.

Storage Tips for Freshness

Proper storage of Café Bustelo coffee helps maintain freshness and prevent the beans or ground coffee from becoming stale. Here are some storage tips:

  • Store beans and grounds in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
  • Avoid exposure to air, light, heat, or moisture.
  • Only grind beans as needed for maximum freshness.
  • Use an airtight stainless steel container for storing grounds.
  • Refrigerate unused portions if not using within a week.

Date any containers you store the coffee in and try to use up opened coffee within 1-2 weeks for optimal flavor. Proper storage keeps Café Bustelo tasting robust and fresh.

How to Froth Café Bustelo for Espresso Drinks

The thick, frothy crema of a Café Bustelo espresso shot adds rich texture and visual appeal to espresso-based milk drinks. Here are some tips for frothing and foaming milk with Bustelo:

  • Use fresh, whole milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized or homogenized.
  • Chill milk in the fridge before frothing to stabilize foam.
  • Use a steam wand on an espresso machine to aerate and heat milk to 150-160°F.
  • Position wand tip just below the milk’s surface until foamy, then submerge to heat.
  • Use a milk frothing pitcher and move pitcher to incorporate foam.
  • For hand frothing, use a french press plunger or milk frother.

Achieving silky, glossy milk foam takes some practice, but is key for balancing the strong Café Bustelo espresso in drinks like cappuccinos and lattes.

Making Café Bustelo-Based Espresso Drinks

Café Bustelo’s bold flavor profile makes it perfect for cutting through milk to create intense, indulgent espresso drink flavors. Here are recipes for popular coffeehouse drinks made with Bustelo:

Café Bustelo Cappuccino

  • Brew 1/3 cup Café Bustelo espresso
  • Froth 1/3 cup whole milk until foamy
  • Pour milk into cup, then add espresso
  • Top with additional frothed milk and cocoa powder

Café Bustelo Latte

  • Make a double shot of Café Bustelo espresso
  • Steam and froth 1 cup of whole milk
  • Pour steamed milk over espresso shots
  • Top with 1/4 inch of foam and sprinkle of cinnamon

Café Bustelo Mocha

  • Brew 1/4 cup Café Bustelo espresso
  • Add 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup to cup
  • Pour steamed milk over chocolate syrup
  • Top with espresso and dollop of whipped cream

Feel free to get creative and come up with your own Café Bustelo drink combinations! The strong espresso pairs well with flavors like vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut too.

Tips for Making Iced Café Bustelo Drinks

Café Bustelo also shines as a base for chilled coffee drinks on hot summer days. To make iced beverages that maintain rich coffee flavor, try these tips:

  • Brew Bustelo espresso or concentrated cold brew for a bolder profile
  • Use an ice coffee brewing method for smoother, less bitter taste
  • Pour espresso or coffee over ice immediately to prevent dilution
  • Add a splash of milk, cream, or sweetener if desired
  • Shake or stir together with ice for an icy, refreshing texture

Iced lattes, mochas, and other Café Bustelo coffee drinks are delightfully refreshing on summer days. Make a big batch of cold brew or concentrate ahead of time to fuel all of your chilled coffee cravings.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

It can take some trial and error to master the art of brewing Café Bustelo espresso. Here are some common issues and how to fix them:

Bitter, Overextracted Flavor

  • Use a coarser grind size
  • Reduce brewing temperature
  • Cut the coffee to water ratio

Weak, Watery Espresso

  • Use a finer grind size
  • Increase the dose of coffee grounds
  • Tamp the grounds with more pressure

No Crema

  • Make sure coffee is freshly ground
  • Use an espresso roast coffee
  • Brew at higher pressure if possible

Bland, Flat Flavor

  • Use freshly roasted Café Bustelo
  • Dial in proper coffee to water ratios
  • Be sure water is hot enough

Don’t get frustrated, adjusting your method is part of perfecting your café-quality Café Bustelo espresso at home. Taking notes on each cup will help dial in the ideal flavor.


With its signature dark roast and blend of bold beans, Café Bustelo coffee is perfect for making intensely flavored espresso drinks at home. Using the proper brewing tools and techniques allows you to achieve coffeehouse-quality Café Bustelo espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes. Paying attention to factors like grind size, water quality, and milk frothing takes some practice, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Mastering Café Bustelo espresso brewing will allow you to enjoy intense, aromatic coffee drinks that highlight this unique Latin espresso blend.

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