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Cafe Bustelo Review: Best Supermarket Coffee?

You may be wondering–is Cafe Bustelo good? Is it espresso, or is it coffee?

Cafe Bustelo has been a supermarket staple for decades. And whether you’re an instant coffee expert, or you like to take instant coffee on camping trips, Cafe Bustelo is an instant lover’s go-to for a great hot cup of coffee.

In this Cafe Bustelo review, I’ll talk about how it’s served, why it’s so popular, and its unique flavor profile.

Cafe Bustelo Review

Café Bustelo Coffee In A Nutshell

Cafe Bustelo is a super popular brand of instant coffee that is a bold flavor of coffee. 

If you’re looking for more coffee bean options, head over to our top 5 Amazon coffee picks!. This classic instant makes a great espresso alternative or can be used in a regular drip coffee maker or even a dual coffee maker if that is what you prefer.

Check out these 7 incredible dual coffee maker models that we’ve been loving!. It grew in popularity in New York City amongst Cuban immigrants in the 1920s. Now it’s hard to miss the bright yellow can with ocean blue and red on the shelves at grocery stores anywhere you go.

The flavor and texture of Cafe Bustelo coffee is what makes it such a beloved, household staple for such a long time. Even though it’s “just” instant coffee, Cafe Bustelo has surprisingly rich flavor and body. The level of crema even a small amount of Bustelo produces is rather unheard of in the realm of instant.

cafe bustelo

You can brew Bustelo as espresso, or add more coffee and hot water for a bold cup of instant “drip.” Bustelo uses a combination of Robusta and Arabica beans.

This combination gives Bustelo its earthy and chocolate notes that taste great with milk and sugar or even your favorite coffee syrup flavor. It also contributes to higher-than-average caffeine content and strong coffee flavor.

Out of all the different brewing methods, one of the more common ways to brew Cafe Bustelo is by making a Cubano or Cuban style coffee. Cubanos combine raw, demerara sugar with espresso. Lovers of Cuban coffee mix a small amount of Cafe Bustelo in a few ounces of water, then stir in demerara sugar.

If you’re fan of Cuban coffee, be sure to check out our complete list of the best Cuban coffee on the market!

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03/18/2024 06:56 pm GMT

Why Is Café Bustelo So Good?

The real question is, what is the best part about Café Bustelo? Well, it all boils down to its super smooth taste and the super high caffeine content. 

I am a firm believer that the coffee you grew up drinking is the kind of coffee you’ll love most of your life. And if you grew up drinking heavy, dark roast coffee like French Press or espresso, little else compares. Cafe Bustelo is good because it’s convenient and nostalgic, with a smooth espresso-style taste that’s difficult to mess up.

The texture and richness of Cafe Bustelo are unique. If you look at a range of instant coffee, you’ll notice Bustelo is super fine for espresso.

cafe bustelo

This often results in a muddy mouthfeel that gives the coffee its heavy body, and produces the familiar layer of foamy crema. It’s the closest thing to espresso texture you can make at home without an actual espresso machine.

Bustelo also stands up well to cream and sugar. If you’re not a black-coffee person, a bit of cream won’t diminish the smooth flavor profile of Bustelo.

If you’re on the hunt for creamers that support healthy habits, discover some of the best healthy creamers in our complete creamer guide.

cup of espresso

Cafe Bustelo is one of the cheapest coffees out there. It’s available at most supermarkets, and it tastes the same wherever you buy it. The consistency and affordability of Cafe Bustelo definitely add to its appeal.

Of course, not everyone loves the strong flavor of instant coffee. Instant coffee is pre-ground and vacuum-sealed in instant coffee packets to preserve freshness. It’s also roasted on the darker side. When roasting so much coffee at once, it’s easier for a roaster to over-roast everything rather than risk under-roasting. And dark roast is beloved by many, so it sells as one the best instant coffee roasts. 

Wondering the difference between instant coffee vs ground coffee? Check out our full comparison guide to determine which version is right for you!

cafe bustelo

At the end of the day, Cafe Bustelo lacks the nuanced flavor of fresh ground coffee. If you are someone who prefers coffee brands that are medium to light roast profiles, the bold coffee flavor of Cafe Bustelo may be off-putting. 

Looking for the perfect light roast coffee? Check out some of our favorite light roast coffee brands in our complete coffee guide!


  • Easy to brew
  • Low price
  • Strong flavor
  • Heavy body/mouthfeel
  • Crema-like consistency 


  • Bitter flavor
  • Muddy mouthfeel
  • High caffeine 
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03/18/2024 07:01 pm GMT

The Bottom Line

A cup of Cafe Bustelo resembles the texture and vibrant character of espresso.

Many brew Cafe Bustelo as a Cubano, mixing a concentrated amount of Bustelo with raw, demerara sugar. The sweetness of the sugar is a great balance to the great flavor of the Bustelo.

Bustelo uses a distinct blend of Arabica and Robusta beans to make their instant coffee. Because robusta beans are cheaper to cultivate, Cafe Bustelo is an affordable coffee that you can find at your local grocery store that still has a unique espresso-style coffee taste. The use of Robusta coffee also contributes to higher caffeine content. 

Cuban coffee

If you’re on the hunt for more cuban style coffee brands, check out 7 of our favorites!

Still wondering which type of coffee is right for you? Consider grabbing a coffee flight the next time you’re out!


Is Café Bustelo considered to be good coffee?

Cafe Bustelo is a popular brand of coffee among many types of caffeine lovers. Though you won’t see it used at coffee shops, it’s hard to deny that the bitter, earthy flavor of this coffee isn’t good. Any coffee lover will tell you it’s a beloved favorite for a reason and makes a tasty cup of coffee.

Can you drink Café Bustelo like regular coffee?

You can drink Cafe Bustelo like regular coffee. Add more Bustelo and more water to make a ratio that tastes right to you. Cafe Bustelo has a super fine grind, like espresso. But one of the appeals is that you can brew Bustelo however you take your coffee. Some even use Aeropress to better mimic the texture of espresso. 

Is Café Bustelo a cheap coffee?

Cafe Bustelo is one of the cheapest coffees available making it a great value. You can buy 36 ounces of Cafe Bustelo for less than $20. Compare this to a bag of single-origin, whole-bean coffee, which runs at least $15 for only 12 ounces. Cafe Bustelo is marked at a great price and uses a combination of Arabica and Robusta beans. This makes the cost much cheaper, as Robusta plants are easy to cultivate in a variety of climates. 

About Lily

Lily Blackburn is a professional barista of 15 years. She's worked extensively behind the bar in America's premier coffee city - Portland, OR - including stops at Upper Left Roasters and Ranger Chocolate. She's the resident coffee expert at Kitchen Ambition, and a regular contributor for Bit of Cream.

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