What's the difference between espresso and Cuban coffee? Basically the coffee is brewed similarly, but with Cuban coffee demerara sugar is added prior to brewing. Sometimes the initial drops of espresso are mixed with sugar to create a paste and then the rest of the coffee is poured into the cup. The sucrose hydrolyzes in the hot espresso and the flavor is slightly different than adding the sugar at the end of the brewing cycle. With an espresso the sugar, if you want it, is added after it is made.