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 a lubricant for idle office chatter or heated political debates. The drink, also known as cafecito, is so deeply entrenched in the local culture that the mayor of the City of Miami proclaimed 3:05pm 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 alongside the steaming cups of rocket fuel 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 3:05pm somewhere. 

A woman serves coffee to a customer from the ventanita at Café Versailles, Miami
Café Versailles has been serving up cafecito for over 50 years © AFP via Getty Images

Versailles has been ground-zero for cafecito culture for over 50 years, serving locals, celebrities, politicians – and even the occasional US presidential candidate – from its location in Little Havana. In fact, Versailles’ founder Felipe Valls Sr has been credited as the first person to develop the ventanita. The restaurant has even spun off a neighboring coffee bar and bakery, where the cafecito perfectly straddles the sugar-to-espresso ratio. For a twist on your cafecito, try 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. 

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

Read more: Heading to Miami? A local wants you to know these 10 things 

2. La Carreta

You can’t go wrong with the cafecito at any of La Carreta’s multiple Miami locations, but the Bird Rd 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 team wins a championship. The powerful doses of Cuban coffee – along with the sticky sweet guava pastries – will keep the celebration going all night.  

How to get there: Take the Dolphin Expressway/836 West to the Palmetto Expressway/826 South. From there, exit on SW 40th St and take that west for about 1 mile. 

A display cabinet next to a large red coffee grinder is filled with espresso cups and coffee-themes ornaments for sale
La Colada Gourmet in Little Havana roasts its own beans and has coffee-themed souvenirs for sale © Khosro / Shutterstock

Serving up some of the most inventive cafecitos and coladas in the city, La Colada Gourmet in Little Havana is where you go when you graduate to next-level iterations on the classic formula. Not only does the gourmet operation roast its own beans, but you can elevate your cafecito with condensed milk, Nutella or a shot of liquor. Before you go, take a moment to peruse bags of their house-blend beans and the assortment of Cuban coffee accessories for a true 3:05pm souvenir.

How to get there: Get on I-95 S and take the NW 7th Ave exit. From there, continue on NW 7th Ave for approximately 1.5 miles.

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 café con leche. Order a tostada (a large, buttery slice of pressed Cuban bread) to dunk ceremoniously into the café 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 St. Take the NW 37th Ave exit to Salamanca Ave in Coral Gables.

A hand is holding a thimble-sized plastic cup of black coffee
Savoring a thimble-sized measure of Cuban coffee from a no-frills ventanita is the classic cafecito experience © Madiha Brooks / Getty Images

5. Islas Canarias

If you find yourself out in the western parts of Miami-Dade county, put Islas Canarias on your radar for some of the finest croquetas and cafecito in town. There are two locations in close proximity to each other – the restaurant and the cafe – and both are fairly no-frills operations. At the restaurant, sidle up to the ventanita and place your order for a cafecito and croqueta quickly and concisely. The staff is typically busy but very efficient — they’ll appreciate your preparedness.

How to get there: Take the Dolphin Expressway/836 West to SW 24 St/Coral Way. Head west on SW 24 St/Coral Way until you reach 136 Ave. 

6. Suite Habana Cafe

The Cuban-owned Suite Habana Cafe in Wynwood was designed to feel like one of Cuba’s paladares (small, family-run restaurants – usually run out of their home). The cozy environs – with Cuban posters on the walls, white brick walls, cushioned seats, and eclectic lighting – lend themselves to an afternoon sipping on a cafecito or café con leche made from the house blend of Colombian and Brazilian beans designed especially for Cuban espresso. Add in a croissant or pastry from the selection and you’ve got a Miami power combo.

How to get there: Get on I-95 N and take it to NE 36th St. Take exit 2B from I-195 E and then navigate Biscayne Blvd and NE 27 St to North Miami Ave.

Someone is pouring a light brown Cuban coffee out of a metal jug and into into a small white cup
Every Miami cafe puts its own spin on Cuban coffee. © Juanmonino / Getty Images

7. Bebito’s Cafe

Over in South Beach, getting your Cuban coffee fix means heading to Bebito’s. Named for the owner’s Cuban grandfather, this cafe ​​doles out classic Cuban cortaditos and café con leche using a private-label signature blend of Central and South American beans that are locally roasted. Marbled green walls, neon signs, and taffy-colored booths lend to the retro tropical feel – the ideal Miami Beach spot to enjoy a cafecito with a guava-and-cheese pastry before a day on the water. 

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

Keep planning your trip to Miami:

Add these top experiences to your itinerary
Want to know when to go? Find the best time to visit Miami
Explore beyond Miami with these top day trips
Give your wallet a break with these free things to do in Miami

This article was first published Oct 24, 2019 and updated Apr 16, 2024.

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