Café Bustelo Review: Best Poor-Mans Specialty Coffee?

Are you the type of person who needs their coffee to hit you as hard as a Monday morning? Or maybe you’re just a fan of a good deal. either way, we think we may have a brand of coffee for you to try.

introducing café bustelo: the latin american inspired espresso style coffee made to be affordable for almost everyone. is this the right brand for you? Read on to find out.

Reading: Cafe bustelo review

about bustelo coffee

Let’s start with the spirit of the brand itself. Café Bustelo was started in New York by a young Spanish immigrant almost a century ago. His name was Gregorio Bustelo and his ambition was to bring a unique profile of Latin American coffee to East Harlem (and beyond).

This type of coffee profile is far off the palate in most areas of the United States. But Gregorio had been inspired by the flavor of the coffee that he had found on his travels, particularly the one in Cuba, and there was no going back.

Gregorio first opened a store in 1928 and sparked interest by going door to door in nearby neighborhoods. Eventually, the brand grew and spread to Miami. now, you can find it almost everywhere, and cafe bustelo is a household name within the Latino coffee community.

the products

floor: “the original”

Their basic line of ground espresso is sold in can, can and brick form. they also sell a “supreme” line in cans, bricks, and bags, as well as a decaf product that is sold in cans. (the supreme espresso is also available in a whole bean option)

Café bustelo pre-ground or bean supremo coffee is made with 100% Arabica beans. as a result, it has less caffeine but is also less bitter. however, it still has the distinctive full body of the regular mix.

instant: “instant Latin flavor”

In addition to its popular ground coffee, Café Bustelo is equally well known for its instant coffee. This line is available in single packs, small containers, and larger freeze-dried canisters. Like the basic range, the instant line includes decaffeinated.

The instant range also includes a couple of flavored coffees: latte and chocolate coffee. Overall, the snap formation seems to have less of a bitter aftertaste than the original bustelo line.

single-dose cups: “ready for your cup”

To cash in on its promise of potency and convenience, Café Bustelo has also broken into the capsule market. they sell 4 different flavors of k-cup as well as selling their product in espresso pod form.

our thoughts


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obviously, this is where bustelo coffee really shines. A longtime favorite of money-conscious and penniless college students, Cafe Bustelo is one of the most affordable brands you’ll find.

Online, you can usually find this brand for less than $0.40 an ounce, which means you can typically get a pound for less than $10.


This category goes hand in hand with the previous one. because bustelo coffee is so affordable that you can find it almost everywhere. Visit their website for a full line, or for just the basics head to Amazon or even most grocery stores, local markets, or pharmacies.

suction cups

Here’s our two cents on the original bustelo coffee flavor. note that the “supreme” line is 100% Arabica and therefore tastes (and price) significantly different. While general feedback on the Supreme line is positive, many Bustelo fans recommend simply sticking with the tried-and-true original and saving some extra money.


A point of contention about the quality of bustelo is actually the taste. the cup is bold and intensely bitter with the slightest hint of fruit like raisins underneath. this almost authoritative flavor is distinctive to Latin American coffee culture and is known to be quite a divisive profile, particularly for the American public.


here’s another point where cafe bustelo has won over a lot of coffee fans. Since this brand uses Robusta coffee beans as the main component of most of their products, they tend to contain an incredible amount of caffeine.

While this decision hurts your performance in other areas, the strength of this brew is definitely enough to leave your hair standing on end in the morning. this also means that it holds up very well to a healthy addition of milk.


on the other hand, this is where many people hide their complaints against this brand. the body of these concoctions tends to be quite heavy. and for someone not used to a denser cup, this brew can end up feeling a bit oppressive.

however, you can combat this characteristic by changing your preparation methods. If you’re having trouble drinking a heavier drink, try opting for a method that involves a paper filter. this will prevent some of the thicker oils from reaching the final cup.

best way to prepare it: classic coffee

Brewing Café Bustelo’s coffee as a cafecito, or Cuban coffee, does justice to its distinctly Latin American roots and profile. all this method requires is coffee, some sugar, and a moka pot.

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to make it, simply make a batch of coffee in the moka pot (or make a strong coffee with whatever you have on hand). then measure 1 tablespoon of brewed coffee and mix with an equal amount of sugar. repeat for the number of servings you want (2 servings = 2 tablespoons each, etc.).

You should get a syrupy mixture that you will later distribute into espresso cups (demitasse). Pour the rest of the brewed coffee on top and enjoy this strong and sweet delight.

alternative service method

if you’re not interested in sugarcoating things too much. you can also just take the mocha pot preparation and cut it with some cream and serve. the flavor is strong enough to stand up to milk, but the addition will help tame the harsher edge of the brew.

other options

other brands to try

If cafe bustelo sounds like a good choice, but you’re wondering what else is out there, here are some of our other favorites.


pilon has a brand style similar to café bustelo, selling both a standard and gourmet line and offering its products in the distinctive “bricks”, cans and jars. They also have decaf and instant options.

brown the key

another Latin-inspired brand. this one makes a point to emphasize sustainability. It’s a bit harder to find in the United States than the other two options, but the company’s roots actually go back to Cuba. Also, this brand likely uses a mix of Arabica and Robusta beans, giving the flavor some interesting woody notes.

for that person who wants something instantaneous

There’s no shame there. in fact, we have a complete guide curated just for you; check it out here. but the short answer here is that you should probably check out [earnist_link ref=”folgers-classic-roast-instant” id=”7350″]folgers[/earnist_link] or [earnist_link ref=”medaglia-doro-espresso-instant-4″ id=”7349″]golden medal[/earnist_link].

Here are two fan favorites in the world of instant coffee. the latter can also be used as an espresso powder for baking!

should I buy?

do you love Cuban-style coffee? Or do you just crave the intensity of a black (or almost black) coffee in the morning? Maybe you’re just looking to save a little cash on your pick on the go? then coffee bustelo is an excellent option for you.

If you don’t like overpowering bitter profiles and prefer the more delicate and complex flavors of a harmless medium roast, skip this one.

happy caffeine!

See also: 15 Cafe Theme Ideas to Captivate Everyones Attention


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