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Agua Dulce Recipe (Costa Rica)

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This hot drink, literally translating to sweet water, combines tapa de dulce (Costa Rican brown sugar) and boiling water for a delightful treat.

About Costa Rican Agua Dulce

Costa Rica has a long-standing tradition of delicious hot drinks- just think about the amazing coffee ritual that happens multiple times a day.

And while it’s not uncommon for younger children to drink coffee in Costa Rica, many times adults will give their kids either hot tea or agua dulce until they are old enough to drink coffee.

Agua dulce is not just a kid’s drink, though. It literally translates to “sweet water” which is a pretty accurate description of the drink. Combining just hot water and sugar, the drink is the perfect antidote to a rainy day or winter afternoon.

It’s made from tapa de dulce, which is a brown-sugar like substance made from ground and boiled sugar cane. You can read more about the entire process of making tapa de dulce in the article I have about the trapiche tour.

In the US, the tapa de dulce is similar to a Mexican brown sugar cone that is called piloncillo. It is virtually impossible to purchase the tapa de dulce in the States, and so using piloncillo in place of the tapa de dulce in this recipe works just great.

Related post: Traditional Costa Rican Coffee Recipe

Costa Rican Agua Dulce Recipe

Printable recipe below

Agua Dulce (Costa Rica) Ingredients

  • hot water
  • tapa de dulce


In a saucepan, place the tapa de dulce and hot water. Boil until just bubbling. Stir to combine. Serve in a coffee mug.

Note: You will most likely need to break apart a large tapa de dulce if that is what you have. I usually do this with a large knife and a kitchen hammer or rubber mallet.

Related post: Costa Rican Drink Recipes


If you are not in Costa Rica you may not be able to get tapa de dulce. In that case, you can use Mexican piloncillo and it will taste very similar.

You can also use 1/2 cup dark brown sugar in place of the tapa de dulce or piloncillo.


Add a shot of rum and a teaspoon of butter for a hot buttered rum cocktail.

You could drink this cold, in the form of Agua de Sapo, where you also add lime and ginger to this recipe.

Serving Suggestions

This recipe is awesome with Costa Rican breakfast (gallo pinto, eggs, homemade tortillas and fresh fruit.) During the afternoon coffee ritual you can also drink agua dulce with fresh sweet empanadas, savory empanadas, homemade Costa Rican bread or really any baked good under the sun.

Join me over at my favorite place- Instagram.

Printable Recipe

Yield: 4 cups

Agua Dulce Recipe Costa Rica

Agua Dulce Recipe Costa Rica

This hot drink, literally translating to sweet water, combines tapa de dulce (Costa Rican brown sugar) and boiling water for a delightful treat.

Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons tapa de dulce (piloncillo) or dark brown sugar


  1. In a saucepan, boil the tapa de dulce and water.
  2. Once boiling, stir to combine.
  3. Serve in a mug, preferably with your favorite people.

About the Author

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Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, travel and language. I’m a mom of two Latinas, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here

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