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
Wow, if it really is as simple as this, the savings would be huge considering commercial offerings are $4 or more per ounce; at William Sonoma, their in=h0use brand is $7.19 / oz... ouch!
I'm wondering though how much coffee flavor is actually maintained if what your making the powder from are 'used' grounds? I guessing it's all about the concentration that's created as it converted to powder form.
Regardless thanks. Will be giving it a try.
In my experience it adds a subtle coffee flavor that's noticeable but not hugely in your face. :)
I followed this recipe exactly and once cooled tried it in hot water, but it did not dissolve completely. I still used it in a chocolate cookie recipe so the small granules were hidden. I don’t think could have ground it any finer, but maybe try again?
To clarify, it may not dissolve in hot water like instant espresso will, but in baked goods it should play it's role in adding a coffee flavor without really effecting the texture.
Jeanne Marie says
thanks for responding, I did not look in the stores for expresso because everything I read said you cant find it. so sent husband out and he found it. I put it in two pies and with chocolate and really was not a fan of it but hey you dont know if you dont try. again thanks Alexandra
Jeanne Simerly says
hi what a dilemma I need instant espresso powder today I do have espresso grounds I thought I could make instant out of them but all I can find is you need to use used espresso does it actually need to be used?
Hi! Sorry to be getting back to you just now. Technically, instant espresso is brewed espresso that's been dehydrated. That being said, I have used ground coffee beans in a pinch and so I'm sure ground espresso beans would work as well.
I'm so glad that I found your website and this discussion! I started by looking for organic espresso powder since coffee and teas are so highly sprayed with pesticides. I couldn't find organic but was shocked at how expensive even regular espresso powder is. I buy dark roast organic coffee beans that I grind for making French press coffee. After reading your explanation and Tim Kelly's comments that helped me to understand the differences, I'm going to dig out our expresso machine to brew a couple of cups of espresso and then follow your suggestions for drying and fine grinding the toasted grounds to make the espresso powder. Thank you so much!
Cinda McComb says
Wow! This is amazing. where I live espresso powder is always way more expensive than coffee beans. Thanks for the sharing this.
Exactly! You don't want to use it for actually making espresso, but for baking purposes, it works great. :)
Tim Kelly says
Thanks for the post. My brewed espresso grinds are in the oven as I type. First time trying this and will be adding them to my cacao butter and coconut energy bites. Can't wait to see how it goes.
I'm seeing a lot of the same kind of questions as I read through this thread. A few things that might be helpful for those who are confused about 'espresso'. Forgive me if I'm nerd-ing out too much.
1. Yes, you need to brew (espresso method) your coffee beans before baking / drying them in the oven to make espresso powder. If you are using instant coffee grinds in place of actual coffee beans as a short cut, than they have already been brewed and dehydrated so you could just grind them to a really fine course and use them as is. However, if you love your coffee like some of us than it's probably sacrilege to have instant coffee in the pantry : )
2. For the purpose of espresso powder, than it shouldn't matter what kind of coffee bean you use, it's how it is brewed. Espresso generally just refers to the shorter (time period) and higher pressure extraction method of the water being forced through the grind when making a coffee. Espresso is different to brewed coffee or steeped coffee where the water is more gently forced through the coffee grind at a slower rate or even steeped for a longer period. With regards to the type of bean though, then beans used in espresso are generally of a darker roast.
3. The importance of a fine grind for espresso, is because it allows a better extraction process (release of oils) as the water is passing through the grind at a quicker rate. If the grind is too large than you will get a weak coffee as there is less surface area of grind to extract from. This quicker brewing method is also why an espresso will generally have a little less caffeine content than a standard brewed coffee. But it should be packed full of flavour and body as the finer grind allows this better extraction of oils. The pitfall here though of a finer grind and enhanced availability of oils, is an espresso becomes a balance and the coffee can be too bitter if the grind is too fine or extracting is too long. When brewing or steeping a standard coffee the grinds are larger and there is more time allowed for the water to extract the flavour and oils from the bean.
And... I should probably stop there.Ha, ha.
Thanks so much for sharing all this! Love it!
I found Cafe Bustelo instant espresso powder and ran it through my Keurig. Could I use the powder as is or can I use your oven method on the grounds post brew? I will be using it in a chocolate cake and frosting recipe. Thanks so much!
If you already bought instant espresso powder you can just use it as-is; no need to do anything to it! This is just a substitute if you don't want to purchase it.
Do u think it's possible to use nesspresso pods coffee if u cut the pods open after use and dry in oven
Hmm, possibly! I hadn't thought of that before but it might work. :)
Angela Maciel says
Woah! This is amazing.. Are you using coffee grounds that are fresh or is it ok to go for the ones older than two weeks?
You can use older ones!
I have some questions? What is the difference between the powder and the espresso coffee in the can? Can you use the espresso coffee (from the can) in a protein shake and get the same energy you would get from the espresso coffee? I brought a can of espresso coffee and I really don't know anything about it. Can you put espresso coffee in your coffee maker? Can you put into your keurig coffee maker? and is it OK to just put a spoon full in your protein shakes? Sorry for all the questions, but want to cover it all. Thanks!
Sorry I missed answering this earlier, but this powder is intended for use in baking and shouldn't be used as instant espresso to actually make coffee/espresso, like you can do with the canned stuff. You could use espresso in a can in a protein shake; the caffeine would be there. If it's instant espresso you don't need to brew it in a coffee make, but if it's just pre-ground espresso beans, you would brew it. And I don't see an issue with putting either of those in a protein shake!
Silver Hensley says
Ok, so I want to use kona coffee for home made esspresso powder used for baking...i have a grinder and coffee brewer....do I bake the beans for an hour then grind to a powder, or do I need to brew the coffee, or ground finer coffee then brew, then bake and grind again? I'm kinda confused....why are sombre saying to brew the grinds first?
A typical coffee maker won't treat the grounds the same way as an espresso maker; you'll have wet, loose grounds versus dry, compact grounds, so this technique probably won't work well for you, unfortunately. The idea is to brew the grounds first and then bake them, but with the grounds from a coffee maker, it's not the same effect.
It all seems interesting and I would like to make espresso brownies, however, 1. I do not have access to espresso powder where I live. It was hard enough to find espresso grounds... 2. I do not typically drink espresso, so no machine! Only a regular coffee maker is around, but I need to make those brownies!!! HELP!!! Thank you!!
Hi there! Sorry for the late reply. You're best bet is probably to just buy instant espresso in that case. :/ I've also used very finely ground coffee beans in a pinch. :)
Came across this recipe on accident, but I think you just saved me a ton of money! Gonna stop buying instant espresso for recipes now and see if the used espresso grounds from my Moka Pot will do.
It doesn't put nearly as much pressure on the grinds as an electric machine, but I'm hoping it'll work just as well. Read through all the comments to see if anyone's mentioned this and I second Cherie's comment, you have a lot of patience lol
Would love to hear how it works out for you! :)
Finally got around to making espresso today and did it! Worked out really well, just had to put in the oven for about 30 minutes longer to get the grinds completely dry. Thanks again! :)
If you brew the beans first, then wouldn't the resulting powder be relatively caffeine free? Also, would this be different than instant espresso powder that you actually make espresso with since that probably wouldn't be brewed first?
I'm really not sure what the caffeine content would be, but this isn't meant to be a substitute for instant espresso to actually MAKE espresso, but rather to just be used for baking purposes where you want the strong espresso flavor without adding actual liquid espresso to a recipe.
Silver Hensley says
Alexandra, I have kona coffee beans and want to make esspresso powder with them, how should I proceed?
Silver Hensley says
It's for making chocolate esspresso moose
Tim Kelly says
I thought the idea of an espresso is that its a quick steep and a smaller volume of water pushed through the grind. This means that there would be more caffeine in the left over espresso grind than would be in a standard coffee grind. It's known that there is more coffee in a standard cup than an espresso for this reason. However, this would also mean that there would be more coffee flavour (oils) left in the espresso grind as well.
Janet Zarpie says
I don't have an espresso machine or access to someone who does. The best deal right now on amazon is 'Old Chicago Coffee' brand espresso powder for cooking, and it says it's the pre-brewed kind. It's almost ten dollars for 2.5 ounces, seems like a lot even though others are more. Do you know of another that costs less? I would think this would be more like 3 dollars for just a few ounces. You mention the Medaglia brand in an earlier comment but that one is nine dollars for just 2 ounces. On a budget, hope you can help!
I'm really not sure since I never buy espresso powder myself (that's why I do the DIY version - it's much cheaper and works just as well for baking purposes). That being said, espresso powder is pretty strong stuff, so you don't need to use a ton for any one recipe.
Janet Zarpie says
Thank you for your help, I actually made some chocolate and ended up with the Old Chicago espresso powder, it worked out great. I don't have a machine so I'm stuck buying it, but like you said, doesn't take much. I actually used about 1/2 teaspoon and still have lots left, so a couple ounces goes a long way!