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?
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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. This is a simple 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.