How To Make Café Bustelo In A Few Easy Steps

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Café Bustelo, a staple in Latin American communities, is renowned for its strong, full-bodied flavor.

Originating from Cuban espresso traditions, this coffee has become a symbol of vibrant culture and rich taste.

This blog post explores the essence of this beloved coffee as we guide you through the steps to brew a cup that captures its bold spirit, perfect for both novices and seasoned aficionados.

Learn the secrets to making a Café Bustelo that not only awakens your senses but also connects you to a rich cultural tradition.

What is Café Bustelo?

Café Bustelo is a distinguished American coffee brand, renowned for its robust and intense flavor profile, especially in its espresso-style offerings.

This brand traces its roots back to 1928, founded in East Harlem, New York, by Gregorio Bustelo, a Spanish immigrant.

It has since become an integral part of Latino households, symbolizing a deep connection to Latino culture and heritage.

Although often linked to Cuban traditions, Café Bustelo’s origin lies with its Spanish founder, making it a poignant symbol of nostalgia and cultural identity for many.

Owned by The J.M. Smucker Company, Café Bustelo enjoys widespread popularity across the United States, celebrated not only for its bold taste but also as a beacon of Latino cultural celebration and preservation.

How to Make Café Bustelo with a Drip Coffee Maker

It’s easier to indulge in the vibrant flavors of Café Bustelo right at home using a drip coffee maker, simply because most people have drip coffee makers, and if you don’t have one, they are pretty cheap.

This guide will walk you through the simple steps to create a deliciously bold cup of this Cuban-style coffee.

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Café Bustelo ground coffee
  • Cold, filtered water
  • Basket coffee filter (either reusable or single-use paper filter)

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Prepare the Coffee Maker

Fill the water reservoir with the desired amount of cold, filtered water.

Place a coffee filter in the basket. Use a standard 4″ basket filter if using a paper filter.

Step 2: Add Café Bustelo Coffee

Measure and add one tablespoon of Café Bustelo ground coffee for every six ounces of water into the filter.

Spread the grounds evenly and give them a gentle shake or pat down to level.

Note: Adjust the amount of coffee based on your desired strength.

For a stronger brew, add more coffee; for a weaker drink, use less coffee or add more water.

Step 3: Brew the Coffee

Turn on the drip coffee maker and allow it to brew completely.

Brewing time varies but is typically up to ten minutes.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy

Once brewed, pour the coffee into demitasses or small cups for a traditional experience.

Enjoy it black, or add sugar or cream to taste.

Important To Note

Remember, the key to a great cup of Café Bustelo is the coffee-to-water ratio and using a fine grind.

Experiment to find your perfect balance and savor the bold, robust flavor that makes Café Bustelo a favorite among coffee lovers.

How To Make Café Bustelo On The Stove

For those who don’t have a drip coffee maker or simply prefer a more traditional method, making Café Bustelo on the stove is a straightforward and rewarding process.

This method doesn’t require any fancy equipment, just a few kitchen essentials.

Follow these steps to enjoy a robust and authentic cup of Café Bustelo.

Ingredients and Equipment

  • 4 tablespoons of Café Bustelo coffee
  • 8 ounces of water
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Strainer (optional, for a smoother coffee)

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Mix Coffee and Water

In a saucepan, combine 4 tablespoons of Café Bustelo coffee with 8 ounces of water.

Step 2: Bring to a Boil

Place the saucepan on the stove over medium heat.

Continuously stir the mixture as it heats.

This helps to evenly distribute the heat and prevents the coffee from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Step 3: Let the Coffee Settle

As the mixture comes to a boil, you’ll notice the coffee grounds start to settle at the bottom of the pan.

Once it boils, remove the saucepan from the heat.

This will prevent over-extraction and bitterness.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy

If you prefer smooth coffee, use a strainer when pouring the coffee into your cup or a thermos.

This step will catch any coffee grounds and ensure a clearer brew.

If you’re comfortable with a more traditional style, you can pour it directly, allowing the grounds to remain in the bottom of the cup.

Customizing Your Café Bustelo Coffee Experience

Café Bustelo is known for its strong and bold flavor, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tailor it to your taste.

Here are several ways to customize your Café Bustelo coffee, whether you prefer it sweet, creamy, or with a unique twist.

Experimenting with these additions can transform your coffee experience into something truly special.

Sweeten the Deal

  • Sugar: Adding sugar is a classic way to balance the robust flavor of Café Bustelo. Whether it’s white, brown, or raw sugar, adjust the amount to suit your sweetness preference.
  • Honey or Maple Syrup: For a natural sweetener, try honey or maple syrup. These can add a unique flavor profile to your coffee.

Creamy Delights

  • Milk or Cream: Soften the intensity of your coffee with a splash of milk or cream. Full-fat, skim, almond, soy, or oat milk can all provide different flavors and textures.
  • Condensed Milk: For a touch of sweetness and creaminess, condensed milk is a popular choice, especially in Latin American coffee traditions.

Flavor Infusions

  • Cinnamon or Nutmeg: A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg can add a warm, spicy note. This is particularly delightful during colder months.
  • Cocoa Powder: For a mocha twist, mix in a little cocoa powder. This combination of chocolate and coffee is a classic favorite.

Cold Coffee Creations

  • Iced Coffee: Simply pour your brewed Café Bustelo over ice for a refreshing iced coffee. You can also add flavored syrups or creamers to enhance the taste.
  • Cold Brew: Make a cold brew concentrate with Café Bustelo by steeping it in cold water for 12-24 hours, then strain. Serve over ice with water or milk.

Specialty Drinks:

  • Espresso-Based Drinks: If you have an espresso machine, use Café Bustelo to make lattes, cappuccinos, or macchiatos.
  • Coffee Cocktails: Mix it up with coffee-based cocktails. Café Bustelo can be a great base for an espresso martini or Irish coffee.

Seasonal Specials

  • Pumpkin Spice: Embrace the fall season by adding pumpkin spice to your Café Bustelo.
  • Peppermint Mocha: For a festive twist, add peppermint syrup and chocolate to your coffee during the holiday season.

How Strong is Café Bustelo?

Café Bustelo is renowned for its robust strength, primarily due to its dark roast profile and elevated caffeine levels.

A typical 12 fl oz serving contains about 150 mg of caffeine, which translates to roughly 12.50 mg per fl oz and 42.27 mg per 100 ml.

This measurement is based on the drip brewing method, and it’s important to note that caffeine content can vary with different brewing techniques, such as when using Keurig K-Cups.

The use of darker roasted beans in Café Bustelo not only enhances its distinctive flavor but also contributes to its overall strength.

For those seeking a coffee that offers both a rich taste and a significant caffeine boost, Café Bustelo is an excellent choice.

How Many Calories Does Café Bustelo Have?

A single tablespoon of Café Bustelo coffee contains 11 calories.

However, it’s worth mentioning that this caloric value can vary based on the specific product and the portion size used.

Additionally, remember that adding extras like milk, sugar, cream, or flavored syrups to your Café Bustelo will raise the overall calorie count of your beverage.

Where Are The Best Places To Buy Café Bustelo?

Café Bustelo coffee is readily available at a range of retail outlets.

Major stores like Walmart, Amazon, Target, and Sam’s Club all stock Café Bustelo.

The brand offers a diverse selection, including original, decaf, Supreme by Bustelo, and espresso-style brick options.

You have the choice of purchasing Café Bustelo in either cans or the traditional coffee bricks.

For online shoppers, Café Bustelo is also available through the Smucker’s Shop and

Notably, Café Bustelo stands out as one of the more affordable coffee brands on the market, making it a favored choice for coffee enthusiasts who are mindful of their budget.

Is Café Bustelo Better Hot Or Cold?

Café Bustelo is a flexible coffee choice that’s delightful both hot and cold.

While it is traditionally savored hot, it’s equally enjoyable as a cold brew.

Thanks to its robust flavor and rich aroma, Café Bustelo adapts well to different brewing styles, from drip coffee makers to espresso machines, and is great in lattes and cappuccinos too.

Therefore, whether it is best served hot or cold ultimately depends on personal preference.

Can I Use An Iced Coffee Maker To Make Café Bustelo?

Yes, you can use an iced coffee maker to prepare Café Bustelo.

While this coffee is often celebrated for its hot brews, it also makes excellent iced coffee.

An iced coffee maker can brew Café Bustelo effectively, and you can then transform the brewed coffee into a delightful iced beverage by adding ice and any other preferred ingredients.

If you’re planning to use a particular iced coffee maker, it’s wise to consult the manufacturer’s instructions to confirm its compatibility with Café Bustelo or any other specific coffee brands you might use.

Tips For Extracting The Most Flavor

To get the best flavor from Café Bustelo, a coffee known for its rich and bold espresso-style profile, follow these tips:

  1. Use Fresh Coffee: Start with the freshest Café Bustelo coffee you can find. Check the expiration date to ensure it’s within a reasonable timeframe.
  2. Correct Water Temperature: Use water that’s just off the boil (about 195°F to 205°F). Water that’s too hot can extract bitter flavors, while water that’s not hot enough won’t extract the coffee’s full range of flavors.
  3. Proper Coffee-to-Water Ratio: A general guideline is to use 1 to 2 tablespoons of Café Bustelo per 6 ounces of water. Adjust according to your taste preference, remembering that Café Bustelo is known for its strength.
  4. Right Brewing Method: Café Bustelo is versatile and can be brewed using various methods. For a traditional espresso experience, use an espresso machine or a stovetop Moka pot. For a regular coffee, a drip coffee maker or a French press works well.
  5. Grind Size (if using whole beans): If you’re grinding Café Bustelo beans, ensure the grind size is appropriate for your brewing method. Use a fine grind for espresso and a coarser grind for drip or French press.
  6. Freshly Brewed is Best: Drink your coffee soon after brewing. The longer it sits, the more the flavor changes and diminishes.
  7. Clean Equipment: Regularly clean your coffee maker, grinder, and any other equipment to prevent old coffee oils and residues from affecting the flavor.
  8. Storage: Store Café Bustelo coffee in a cool, dark place in an airtight container to preserve its freshness and flavor.
  9. Experiment with Customizations: While Café Bustelo is traditionally enjoyed strong and black, feel free to experiment with milk, sugar, or other flavorings to suit your taste.


Mastering the art of making Café Bustelo is all about simplicity and respecting the bold flavors of this iconic coffee.

Whether you’re using a drip coffee maker, a stovetop method, or experimenting with cold brew, the key is in the balance of water and coffee, along with brewing it to your taste.

Remember, the best cup of Café Bustelo is the one that suits your flavor preferences, whether enjoyed black, sweetened, or cream-laden.

So, embrace these easy steps, and you’ll be savoring a delicious, culturally rich cup of Café Bustelo in no time!


What kind of coffee is in Café Bustelo?

Most of their coffee is made with a blend of Robusta and Arabica coffee beans.

Can I use a French Press for making Café Bustelo?

Absolutely! Using a French Press is a great way to brew Café Bustelo.

Just ensure you steep the coffee for about 4-5 minutes for optimal flavor extraction.

Can you use a Pour-over method to make Café Bustelo?

Yes, the pour-over method works well with Café Bustelo.

It allows for precise control over the brewing process, resulting in a clean and flavorful cup of coffee.

Can you make Café Bustelo in a Keurig?

Yes, you can make Café Bustelo in a Keurig.

Café Bustelo offers K-Cup pods that are compatible with Keurig machines, making it convenient to enjoy this bold coffee.

Does Café Bustelo have Instant coffee?

Yes, Café Bustelo offers an instant coffee version.

This is a great option for those who want to enjoy Café Bustelo’s robust flavor with the convenience of instant preparation.

Can I use an AeroPress for making Café Bustelo?

Certainly! An AeroPress is a versatile brewing method for Café Bustelo.

It can produce a strong and smooth cup of coffee, similar to an espresso.

Can I use an Espresso machine to make Café Bustelo?


Café Bustelo is well-suited for espresso machines.

Its fine grind and bold flavor profile make it ideal for creating rich and flavorful espresso shots.

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Jacob Harris

Jacob is a coffee enthusiast who turned his passion into a career. As the owner and editor of Karma Coffee Cafe, he shares his extensive knowledge and recommendations, captivating fellow coffee lovers.

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