Have a recipe that calls for espresso powder? Here's everything you need to know about this ingredient, including what it is, what it contributes to a recipe, and how you can make it yourself. (It's easy to do and inexpensive!) Use it to add a subtle coffee flavor or extra richness to your favorite baked goods - especially those involving chocolate!
If you bake often (which, let's be real, is probably why you're here) chances are you've come across a recipe that uses espresso powder. You can absolutely find this product in groceries store, but since I love my DIY recipes, I'm here to show you how you can make your own - and most likely for a fraction of the price! All you need is brewed espresso grounds, an oven, and a coffee grinder. With just a few simple steps, you'll have your own homemade espresso powder to add to all your favorite baked goods, including cakes and cupcakes, cookies, and more.
So let's get into what this ingredient really is, what it's used for, and how you can make it at home.
- What is it?
- What is it used for?
- Can I make my own?
- Do I need an espresso machine?
- Do I have to use espresso beans?
- What if I don't have a coffee grinder?
- How can I use it?
- Storage and shelf life
- Will this powder dissolve in hot liquid?
- Will this make my baked goods taste like coffee?
- Can't I just substitute ground or instant coffee?
- Recipe Card
- 💬 Comments and Reviews
What is it?
Espresso powder - also known as "instant espresso" - is made from ground espresso beans that have been brewed, dried, and then ground (even further!) into a fine powder. Although the name may imply otherwise, it is not generally used to make espresso. This brings me to my next point...
What is it used for?
Espresso powder is typically used in baking to amplify other flavors, especially chocolate. Much like vanilla bean, it's not generally used to contribute the bulk of the flavor in a recipe, but rather to complement it. Because of its fine texture, it dissolves in liquids easily and also blends seamlessly into dry ingredients.
Can I make my own?
Yes! Remember what I said earlier: espresso beans are brewed, dried, and ground before they're packaged up and sold as espresso powder. As noted by Fine Cooking, this is a process you can duplicate at home. All you need are the grounds that remain from brewing coffee or espresso in an espresso machine.
The grounds will start out in compact discs; start by breaking these up with your hands over a baking sheet. Use as much or as little grounds as you'd like; since this keeps well, I'd recommend using enough to fill a small container.
Next, spread grounds out into a thin, even layer.
At this point, you're ready to bake the grounds. Place them in your oven on the middle rack, and bake at 175ºF for 1-3 hours. They should feel dry and slightly crunchy when done. The exact amount of time this takes will vary based on how much you're working with.
Finally, use a coffee grinder to further grind into a fine powder. You may need to do this in batches!
And that's it! It's now ready for all your baking needs.
Do I need an espresso machine?
For best results, yes. Unlike the process of brewing coffee, brewing espresso involves forcing water through the beans at a very high pressure for a very short amount of time. The grounds that remain are compacted into a disc, and a majority of the moisture from the water has already been removed. The extraction method also impacts the flavor of the grounds.
So while you may be able to produce a similar end product using grounds brewed from a different type of coffee-making device, you will likely need to bake them much longer to cook out all the water, and the flavor will likely be weaker.
Do I have to use espresso beans?
No; any type of coffee bean can be brewed in an espresso machine. Technically, espresso beans are specifically roasted to be suitable for their intending brewing method, but the main factor here is the brewing method, not the type of beans being brewed.
What if I don't have a coffee grinder?
While I've found that using a coffee grinder is the most efficient way to break the grounds down into a fine powder, there are plenty of other methods you can use. Try a food processor, blender, or even a mortar and pestle.
How can I use it?
This DIY espresso powder is purely intended for baking. As I mentioned earlier, it works especially well when combined with chocolate! Use it for...
- This gluten-free, silky chocolate tart
- These rich dark chocolate espresso cupcakes
- These oh-so-fudgy, flourless, NUTELLA chocolate chip cookies
- A batch of chocolate-dipped caramel chocolate chip biscotti
- These marble financiers
- Or, for a recipe where coffee plays a starring role, these AMAZING coffee and brown sugar scones
Storage and shelf life
Treat this like any spice in your kitchen. Store it in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry place. It should last for at least a year this way (but probably much longer). As long as it remains fragrant, it's most likely fine to use.
Will this powder dissolve in hot liquid?
Yes; for the purposes of baking this will dissolve just fine in a hot liquid. However, please keep in mind that this is not instant coffee, and it's definitely not meant to be used as such. So don't drink it! Brew a fresh batch of coffee instead.
Will this make my baked goods taste like coffee?
On its own, this will contribute a subtle coffee flavor to your baked goods and amplify other rich flavors in the recipe. The more you use, the more you'll taste it, of course. I've used 2 tablespoons in a batch of my gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for a strong, but not overwhelming flavor. What you won't get is a cake that tastes like you poured a cup of cold brew into it - but this would make a great addition nonetheless!
Can't I just substitute ground or instant coffee?
In a pinch, you can grind instant coffee into a fine powder and use it as a substitute in a recipe that calls for espresso powder. However, the flavor will likely be weaker, so you may need to increase the amount used. As for just using ground coffee, I'd be lying if I said I've never done it. Again, the amount needed may be different, but it will work if that's all you've got. That being said, if you have access to espresso grounds and want to save a few bucks, this DIY version is your best bet.Print
DIY Espresso Powder
Have a recipe that calls for espresso powder or instant espresso? Here's how you can make it yourself. Use it for added flavor and richness in your favorite baked goods - especially those involving chocolate!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour (up to 3)
- Total Time: 1 hour (up to 3)
- Yield: 1 cup
- Category: how-to
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
- leftover espresso grounds*
- Preheat oven to 175ºF.
- Prep grounds: Crumble grounds up with your hands and spread out in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake: Place baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 1-3 hours, tossing every hour or so, until the grounds feel dry and slightly crunchy. The exact amount of time this takes will depend on how much of the grounds you start with.
- Grind: Using a coffee grinder, further grind into a fine powder; you may need to do this in batches.
- Store: Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Keeps for at least a year.
*You can use as much or as little as you'd like, depending on the quantity of espresso powder you want to make. Actual yield will be determined by how much you start with.
Keywords: espresso powder, instant espresso, how to make espresso powder, espresso powder for baking, homemade espresso powder
Do you happen to have a recipe for the cookies.in.the pictures? :)
I think I used this chocolate chip cookie recipe but added 2 Tbsp of espresso powder and used a combination of chopped milk/semisweet chocolate and Toblerones as the mix-ins. :)
Kelli Amaral says
What about just adding a little espresso powder to a chocolate cake when the recipe doesn’t call for it? How much would you add? And how would you add it - mixed in with the dry or dissolved in the wet?
You can definitely do that! As an example, I use espresso powder in my chocolate espresso cupcakes, which calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons in a batch of 12 cupcakes. For a basic double-layer, 8-9" cake, you could probably use up to 2 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder. I just whisk it in with the dry ingredients. Hope that helps!
Have you tried drying the grounds in a microwave using a lower level of power?
Hi Meg, I have not. :/ I suppose it could be worth a try if using a small amount of grounds, but I can't say for sure. I'd love to hear if you give it a go!
Hi! I don't have any leftover espresso grounds. I could get my hands on finely ground espresso beans. Do I have to go through the whole process or I could use it right away for baking?
Like I mentioned in the post, you technically could use ground beans as a substitute and I have done it before in a pinch, but it's not quite the same. If it's just for a baked good it should be fine but you might need to adjust the amount used.
Jan Liggins says
I would love to make a Coffee Cake using my favourite Espresso Coffee, Allpress. From what I've been able to find out, using this particular method to make Espresso Powder is more to enhance other flavours in baking, rather than being the dominant flavour. Do you think I could use your method to make something where Coffee is the main flavour? Many thanks for any help you can provide.
Hi! Do you already have a recipe in mind? Is the espresso powder meant to be the only coffee element in the recipe?
Jan Liggins says
Yes, it's a recipe that uses just regular instant coffee powder, but I would like to make it using my favourite Coffee, which does not come in an instant form. So I was trying to come up with a way to make the Coffee Cake using my favourite Coffee.
Jan Liggins says
Forgot to mention that yes, it would be the only coffee element in the recipe, other than what is in the Icing.
I think it would probably do as good a job as the instant coffee powder (or at least pretty close), but I'm not positive. If you want to email me a link to the recipe using my contact form, I might be able to give you better advice!
I used to be able to buy Delallo Espresso Powder at my local Walmart, but they took it off the shelf. However, you mentioned that the Medaglia d'Oro Instant Espresso Coffee, will work in its place. even though its name has coffee in it?
I'm not a coffee drinker, but I do enjoy baking & that is what I'll be suing it for.
Thanks for any reply.
If it's a fine ground I think it should be fine. If it's more like crystals I would probably advise against it.
Jo Woll says
I will look closely before opening. Thank you for your reply. Much appreciated.
I will try this out, but currently instead of instant espresso powder, I use Lavazza espresso ground beans, fresh out of the can (they are very finely ground) at a 0.5:1 ratio. I.E. 1/2 teaspoon of the ground espresso for one teaspoon of the instant.
1) when espresso has been has been put through my Italian stovetop espresso maker, I notice an acid taste to the grounds within a few hours. So perhaps immensely drying the grounds in an oven would prevent that?
2) absolutely none of my Italian cookbooks (in the Italian language, published in Italy) call for instant espresso powder.
Not sure about the acid taste... would love to hear how it turned out if you gave it a try though!