Best Cuban Coffee In Miami

Don’t let the occasional big-chain coffee shop fool you — Miami runs on Cuban coffee. This strong caffeinated concoction made from Cuban espresso and sugar not only helps locals power through a midday slump, but it bridges social barriers and provides lubricant for idle office chatter or heated political debates. The drink, also known as cafecito, is so deeply entrenched in the local culture, the mayor of the City of Miami proclaimed 3:05 p.m. Miami’s official cafecito break time.

The first rule of cafecito is: a little goes a long way. The thimble-sized stack of cups that come with a colada — a four-ounce styrofoam cup of Cuban coffee — is the strongly suggested serving size and promotes sharing. The second rule is: find a ventanita. These walk-up, to-go windows serve up flaky Cuban pastries and steaming cups of rocket fuel (that’s the Cuban coffee) fast and furiously.

If you’re ready to get a taste of this caffeinated wonder, check out one of our seven favorite spots for Cuban coffee in Miami. Hey, it’s 3:05 somewhere.

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La Carreta

You can’t go wrong with the cafecito at any of La Carreta’s multiple Miami locations, but the Bird Road storefront has arguably the best ventanita of them all. Buzzing with energy and the satisfying hiss of the espresso machine releasing steam, this lively ventanita is where the city gathers when a local sports franchise wins a championship because the powerful doses of Cuban coffee — along with the sticky sweet guava pastries — will keep the celebration going all night.

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How to get there: Take the Dolphin Expressway/836 west to the Palmetto Expressway/826 South. From there, exit on SW 40th Street and take that west for about one mile.

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Amelia’s 1931

The name of this modest cafe is a homage to the owner’s Cuban grandmother, who worked the counter at the family’s landmark Islas Canarias restaurant for decades. Amelia’s 1931 is a throwback to its namesake, with a long stretch of counter space surrounded by tchotchkes and ornate vintage-looking tilework. The counter provides the perfect perch for enjoying a cafecito with one of the cafe’s award-winning croquetas while making acquaintances with fellow caffeine connoisseurs sitting within elbow distance.

How to get there: Head west on the Dolphin Expressway/836 and take the NW 137 Avenue exit south. Take 137 Avenue south for about two miles.

Rub elbows with celebrities, politicians or perhaps a future president at Versailles © Courtesy of Versailles

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Little Havana’s Versailles is ground-zero for cafecito culture. The ventanita here has been serving locals, celebrities, politicians and even the occasional U.S. presidential candidate for nearly 50 years. While the cafecito here perfectly straddles the sugar to espresso ratio, you might want to opt for the cortadito — Cuban coffee that’s been cut with steamed milk — to go with your pastries. And at Versailles, subbing your milk for the evaporated version isn’t just acceptable, it’s highly recommended.

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How to get there: Head east on SW 8th Street/Calle Ocho until you reach 35th Avenue.

Typical cuban restaurant at SW 8th Street, a focal point of the cuban community in Miami ©Kamira/Shutterstock

Tinta y Café

While Tinta y Café might look like a cozy local coffee shop that’s perfected the latest latte art, it’s actually a Cuban cafe with all of the bohemian creature comforts of an indie roaster. Here, your cortadito comes with the aforementioned latte art — as does your cafe con leche. Order a tostada (a large, buttery slice of pressed Cuban bread) to ceremoniously dunk into the cafe con leche. It’s the local custom, and yes, you should definitely drink the creamy remains.

How to get there: Head west on Dolphin Expressway/836 to NW 14th Street. Take the NW 37th Avenue exit to Salamanca Avenue in Coral Gables.

Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop

This no-frills spot in the city’s Wynwood neighborhood churns out a laudable Cuban sandwich, but it’s the scalding cups of syrupy sweet cafecito that keeps the area buzzing and energized throughout the day. Sure, you can find fancier cups of joe all around Wynwood, but none will give you the bang for your buck that Enriqueta’s ventanita will.

How to get there: Get on I-95 N and take it to NE 36th Street. Take exit 2B from I-195 E and then navigate Biscayne Boulevard and NE 2nd Avenue to NE 29th Street.

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Every Miami cafe puts its own spin on Cuban coffee. Stay long enough and you’ll develop your favorite location © Juanmonino / Getty Images

La Colada Gourmet

Serving up what is arguably some of the most inventive cafecitos and coladas in the city, La Colada Gourmet in Little Havana is where you go when you’ve reached graduate to next-level iterations on the classic formula. Not only does the gourmet operation roast their own beans, but you can take your cafecito to the next level with condensed milk, Nutella or a shot of liquor. Before you go, take a moment to peruse their assortment of Cuban coffee accessories for a truly 305 souvenir.

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How to get there: Get on I-95 S and take the NW 7th Avenue exit. From there, continue on NW 7th Avenue for approximately a mile-and-a-half.

Café Versailles where Cuban exiles gather to have a “cafecito” ©AFP via Getty Images

David’s Cafe Cafecito

If you find yourself in South Beach, getting your Cuban coffee fix means heading to David’s Cafe Cafecito. The restaurant has seen several locations open and shutter over its 40-year history, but you’re in good company here. Its current location boasts a wall of autographed photos from notable patrons over the years. Join their ranks with a steamy cup of sweet café con leche paired with chewy bites of crusty tostada — an exercise in sublime simplicity.

How to get there: Take I-95 N to the MacArthur Causeway. Head east and exit on FL-907 N/Alton Rd.

This article was originally published October 24 2019

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