How to Make Cafe Bustelo: Easy Guides for Drip Coffee and More

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If Bustelo’s an espresso-style coffee, do you need an espresso machine to make it? If you’re used to buying medium-ground coffee, those finer grounds in a Cafe Bustelo canister can be confusing.

In this article, you’ll learn how to make Cafe Bustelo in a regular drip coffee maker, a French Press, and a Moka Pot.

How to Make Cafe Bustelo in a Drip Coffee Maker

A woman about to pour coffee from a drip coffee maker

Most household coffee makers are drip coffee makers. These are the standard machines that have a coffee pot, a filter basket, and a water reservoir.

Drip coffee makers work best with medium-ground coffee. The finer grounds in Cafe Bustelo may make it through your filter, so be prepared for a bit of extra gunk in the bottom of your cup. You’d be better off buying whole-bean Cafe Bustelo and using a coffee grinder to prepare it for your drip coffee maker, but you can use the find grounds in a pinch.

 The method of making Cafe Bustelo in a drip coffee maker is super simple, and it will have your lips to your cup in no time. 

Step 1. Add your water to the coffee maker’s reservoir. Use your coffee carafe to measure this out. If you’re going to use a measuring cup, remember that each coffee cup is six ounces, not eight.

Step 2. Set up your coffee filter and add one tablespoon of Café Bustelo for every six-ounce cup of water. Smooth it over to make sure it’s all spread around evenly. You can adjust this coffee-to-water ratio if the coffee tastes too bitter or too sour. Remember, this is espresso-style coffee, which will by default result in a bold taste with a hint of bitterness.

Step 3. Turn on your coffee machine’s brew cycle. That is all there is to it! In just a couple of minutes, you will have your perfect cup of dark-roast coffee.

How to Make Café Bustelo in a French Press

Making coffee with some of the best coffees for French press lovers.

I don’t recommend using espresso-ground coffee in your French press coffee maker. French press coffees are typically coarse-ground beans. Cafe Bustelo grounds will seep right through the filter, leaving you with a lot of extra gunk in your cup and making it a lot harder to clean your press afterward.

You can opt to get Bustelo in whole bean form. Using a French Press coffee grinder, you can then grind it yourself to just the right coarseness that won’t leave you with mud at the bottom of your cup.

But now that you’ve been warned let’s see how you can use standard Cafe Bustello grounds to make French press coffee.

Step 1. Fill your French press halfway with Café Bustelo. For every six-ounce cup of water, you want to use one tablespoon of coffee. Café Bustelo is more potent than regular ground coffee. You might even want to start with less, as a little goes a long way. If you’re going to add some sweetness, you can add sugar or a flavored syrup at this point, too, as the sugar when the warm water hits will give it a caramelized touch.

Step 2. In a pan or kettle on the stove, heat water. The temperature of the water should be between 195- and 205-degrees Fahrenheit. To achieve this, bring water to a complete boil, then let it sit for a few minutes.

Step 3. Gently pour water into the French press, making sure to cover all the coffee but not splatter the coffee up the side. You’ll have less sludge on the bottom of your cup if you splash less around the sides. Stir to create a uniform consistency.

Step 4. Place the filter plunger on top. Instead of the standard 4–5 minute seeping time, only allow the coffee to steep for 2–2.5 minutes. It might seem short, but this is espresso, not your regular coffee. If that is too rich for you, you can cut the time to 1 minute.

Step 5. Press your filter plunger down slowly to extract the coffee from the coffee grounds. As mentioned, you will have to press down on your plunger a bit firmer than usual. The results may be worth it, though.

How To Make Café Bustelo Using a Moka Pot

A person pouring their Moka pot coffee into a mug

Cafe Bustelo is made specifically for use with a Moka pot, so this is your best option. That assumes, of course, that you have one of these stovetop espresso makers. If you don’t have one, I’d suggest the Bialetti 4953.

Step 1. Fill the bottom tank to just below the safety valve with filtered cold water.

Step 2. Take out the funnel, then fill with Cafe Bustelo coffee, leveling the surface at the end. It prevents any coffee grounds from getting into the water and can ruin your coffee’s taste.

Step 3. Now place the funnel loaded with coffee grounds into the tank, making sure nothing spills.

Step 4. Screw the pot tightly into the tank. If there is no good seal, you won’t get the same pressure you need, resulting in over-brewed coffee.

Step 5. Set the pot on medium heat, then wait for the coffee to brew, filling the coffee pot.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cafe Bustelo?

 Born from Gregorio Bustelo’s love of the Latin culture (and coffee), Café Bustelo is a Cuban-style espresso coffee that started in East Harlem in 1928. You may know it as just delicious thanks to its bold taste and aroma; it is often referred to as a “poor man’s espresso.”

What’s Next?

No matter how you brew it, the best part of making Café Bustelo is enjoying every sip of the most simple, authentic cup of at-home Cuban coffee you can get. And If you like Cafe Bustelo, be sure to try out all the other great Cuban coffee brands. Italian coffee brands or espresso-style beans would also be great options.

For some, Cafe Bustelo is just too bitter. If that’s you, you might want to try Costa Rican coffee or Colombian coffee instead. You could also try using an AeroPress or automatic pour-over coffee maker. Those machines produce coffee that is more flavorful and less bitter than what your drip coffee maker can do.

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