Don’t worry; the purpose of this article isn’t to convince you to rely on instant espresso granules to brew all your coffee drinks. We are, however, going to tell you about our latest obsession: instant espresso powder. You probably won’t find espresso powder at your favorite coffee shop, but you just might find it in all kinds of sweet and savory recipes. And if it’s not already on the ingredient list? Well, you might discover that a teaspoon or two of the stuff can make it better!
Who knew the powers of espresso were strong enough to improve anything it touched? Oh, right, every coffee fan ever! Read on to get the full lowdown on espresso powder and how to use it, directions on making this fun ingredient, and our recommendations for the best espresso powder on the market today!
At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Espresso Powder
What is Espresso Powder?
Contrary to what you might think, espresso powder is not the same thing as ground espresso. Espresso powder is essentially a darker, more concentrated form of instant coffee. Unlike that coffee product, though, most people aren’t using it for brewing, as it, unfortunately, makes a pretty weak cup. Don’t discredit it, though; having a jar of this stuff in your kitchen is still worth it! But we’ll explain more about why later.
The average espresso powder is made through a process similar to the one used to produce regular instant joe. Espresso beans are finely ground, brewed, then dried. Then, the dehydrated ground coffee is crushed even more to create a finer, more powder-like product. Finally, this powder is packaged and shipped to your kitchen, where it’s used to give everything a boost in coffee flavor, from your favorite chocolate dessert recipe to savory meat rubs and barbecue sauce recipes.
Side note: we probably don’t have to tell you that the “espresso beans” from which this powder is made are no different than the average coffee bean. They’re called such because the first step of making this powder is brewing espresso, likely with a very dark Italian-roasted bean, and that it’s more concentrated than your typical coffee powder.
Quick Summary: The Best Espresso Powder
Our Top PickKING ARTHUR BAKING COMPANY ESPRESSO POWDER
|Check on Amazon →|
|MEDAGLIA D’ORO ESPRESSO INSTANT COFFEE||Check on Amazon →|
|FERRARA INSTANT ESPRESSO||Check on Amazon →|
|CAFFE D’VITA PREMIUM INSTANT ESPRESSO||Check on Amazon →|
|ANTHONY’S ORGANIC ESPRESSO BAKING POWDER||Check on Amazon →|
|DELALLO INSTANT ESPRESSO POWDER||Check on Amazon →|
Roasty Rankings: Our Picks for Best Espresso Powder
King Arthur Baking Company Espresso Powder
Our first espresso powder offering comes from King Arthur Baking Company, a 100 percent employee-owned flour company and the oldest in the United States.
Since King Arthur has a reputation for crafting quality food products for baking, it’s not surprising that adding this stuff to all of your favorite recipes can take them to the next level. Don’t just take our word for it, though; the good folks at King Arthur claim your chocolate will sing if you add a teaspoon of espresso powder to your mix!
Medaglia D’Oro Espresso Instant Coffee
Though Medaglia Oro’s powdered espresso mixture is a little on the pricey side, it’s the go-to for many a chef.
A blend of high-quality Italian espresso coffees comes together to create an intensely dark roast coffee. D’Oro says that this joe is double roasted, translating into more pronounced, recognizable effects and a classic, rich coffee flavor.
This brand isn’t just recommended for baking, though; when you want to sip a cup of espresso in the morning but don’t have the time to fire up the old brewer, add a teaspoon of this concentrated coffee powder into six fluid ounces of hot water or milk — bam! Instant goodness.
Ferrara Instant Espresso
Don’t forget to consider Ferrara as you search for a version of espresso powder that works well in all of your baking recipes! The brand, founded in 1892, is an industry leader in confectionery product options, so you know this is a coffee powder you can trust.
Ferrara’s instant espresso is a blend of Brazilian, Colombian, Ecuadorian, and Mexican coffees. And since it’s an Italian-style company, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that each bean used in this product is roasted to dark perfection before being ground, dried, and packaged. It’s also gluten- and GMO-free!
Want to give this stuff a try but don’t have anything to add it to? No worries! Ferrara’s got a recommended recipe you can check out here; it really lets this ingredient shine!
Caffe D’Vita Premium Instant Espresso
Caffe D’Vita’s instant joe has all the authentic espresso flavoring you’re looking for, making it an excellent choice for both brewing and baking.
It’s not just good, however; it’s good for you, too — you won’t find any hydrogenated oils, trans fat, or gluten in these beans! Use this kosher-friendly, U.S.-made powder in all your favorite chocolate baking recipes (If you were waiting for an excuse to eat chocolate cake, this is it!). Or, scoop a teaspoon into hot water for use in your specialty drinks, like lattes or coffee-infused cocktails!
Anthony’s Organic Espresso Baking Powder
Anthony’s Organic espresso powder is designed especially for baking, so whip it out when trying that new office party recipe you stumbled across on Pinterest.
This powder, made from high-quality arabica coffee beans, is organic, so no genetic modifications were made to this flavoring ingredient. We love that it’s gluten-free but even better than that is the fact that it can enhance the flavor of any chocolate recipe without overpowering it with a strong, distinctive coffee taste.
DeLallo Instant Espresso Powder
If you’re feeling a bit apprehensive about adding the notoriously bitter taste of espresso to your favorite sweet treats’ batter, we’ve got good news: DeLallo’s instant espresso powder gives you all the roasted coffee flavor you’re looking for sans any unpleasant bitterness.
Of course, this powder is a perfect addition to your baked goods, but you can also use it to make a mean cup of Dalgona coffee. So, if you somehow missed out on the whipped coffee trend when it swept across social media in early 2020, jump on the bandwagon now and use DeLallo’s instant joe to do it!
Tips to Try
We already mentioned that espresso powder is a shockingly versatile ingredient, but we didn’t go into detail about all the things it mixes well with until right now! Here are a few ways chefs use this magic ingredient in their recipes; hopefully, these inspire you to keep a jar of it in your kitchen, too!
Let’s Start With the Sweet Stuff
Chocolatey baked goods
We probably don’t have to tell you that pretty much any chocolate-espresso or coffee coupling is a match made in heaven — at this point, pretty much everyone knows that! Bean Box, for example, specifically pairs chocolate bars with their beans, and tons of brands have added chocolate-covered coffee beans to their product rosters. At this rate, why wouldn’t our favorite caffeinated beverage make its way into our chocolate baked goods, too?
Adding espresso powder to these recipes amps up the chocolate taste and brings out more bitter notes to balance out any intense sweetness. Don’t worry about the coffee’s flavor overpowering your dessert; adding just a bit of the powdered joe isn’t going to turn your chocolate cake into a coffee cake. It’ll just make the mocha flavors more intense and luxurious.
Hot Cocoa, Smoothies, and Cocktails
Using espresso powder this way is a bit more unconventional than baking, but it’s just as tasty nonetheless.
If you want to add a hint of coffee flavor to your beverage but aren’t crazy about the idea of pouring liquid espresso or drip brew into your cup, this is for you! A dash of espresso powder can bring java goodness into your mug without upping the water content or being as intense as a full shot.
Now For the Savory
Braises, Chili, and Stew
There are plenty of reliable recipes out there that instruct you to braise your meat in a coffee or chocolate-based liquid. And in many cases, this means adding a bit of espresso powder. The idea is to add complexity to the braise or broth and, in turn, the resulting dish. But don’t worry; the addition of depth and freshness won’t cost you anything in flavor. Your meaty entrees won’t have any odd hints of coffee.
We know this might sound nuts, but using espresso powder in your dry rubs is incredible. This secret ingredient adds a rich, smoky flavor and creates extra depth to the dish. It plays well with cayenne and also lends the outside of the steak a rich dark-brown color. And no — your New York strip won’t taste anything like your morning cup of joe.
Dressings and Sauces
Never think that espresso or espresso flavoring has to be limited to breakfast hours. The vinaigrette-topped salad you enjoy for lunch or the grilled chicken covered in barbecue sauce you chow down on for dinner could benefit from espresso powder, too.
Espresso powder adds a surprisingly savory tone and a pop of flavor and energy to salad dressing. And in homemade barbecue or steak sauces, a teaspoon or two of the stuff creates additional savory depth, enhances the sauce’s smoky notes, and creates a flavor so rich that all your cookout guests will be dying to know what your secret is.
Seasoning or Finishing Touch
This is the category where you might get a little carried away. Espresso powder is perfect if you want to add a little something extra to whatever you are making. If you’re making granola or toasted nuts, the espresso can provide something a little more interesting than your usual cinnamon touches. Plus, it pairs beautifully with nutty flavors.
Alternatively, you can use the powder the same way people generally use sea salt. Essentially functioning as a garnish on top of desserts (try it on lemon sorbet, it’s amazing) or on salads, just a pinch of the stuff can add some serious fun to the dish’s flavor. The espresso’s rich coffee flavor will likely be more prominent when used in either of these ways, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you brew it?
Technically, yes, you can use a spoonful of espresso powder and hot water to make a hot cup of joe to enjoy with your breakfast. However, some of these products are better for brews than others.
But do we recommend you pull a jar of espresso powder off of your coffee shelf every time you need to fill your mug? No. The result tends to be a pretty weak coffee. Plus, these products are pretty pricey in comparison to the amount you’re getting. That’s fine if you’re only using a small amount of it here and there for cooking, but if you’re using it to brew every day, you’ll blow through it quickly.
You are better off spending your money on whole coffee beans or grounds and brewing the old-fashioned way. But if you insist on going the instant joe route, use regular instant coffee instead of espresso powder.
Is it the same as the fine grounds used for espresso?
No! But this is a widespread misconception.
Espresso powder is specifically intended to dissolve, allowing it to behave more like a regular spice, like cinnamon, for example. It’s made by drying already-brewed coffee grounds, then crushing those into a powder. This process gives the espresso a much finer texture and allows it to dissolve fully.
Regular espresso won’t dissolve, so you won’t get the intended flavor profile, and whatever you’re making is likely to have a weird, grainy texture.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t substitute regular espresso or coffee grounds for espresso powder in your recipes. Though we don’t recommend it, you can use regular grounds so long as they’re very, very finely ground.
Can you use instant coffee in the same way?
Yes, you can. However, as we mentioned earlier, just like instant coffee tends to be better for drinking, instant espresso is better for cooking.
But, if you don’t want to spring for the espresso powder or just don’t have any on hand, you can substitute instant coffee powder. If you’re using instant coffee, the rule of thumb is to use 50 percent more of these granules than you would espresso powder, but taste as you go to determine what works best for you and the dish.
Beware: the instant coffee may have a harsher taste or exhibit more tinny or sour notes than the espresso powder, especially if you use too much. Nevertheless, plenty of recipes work incredibly well with instant coffee; check out some of them here!
Can you make your own espresso powder?
Yes, you can! The process is a tad tedious and quite time-consuming. But, if you’re concerned about the origin of your beans and whether or not they were produced ethically and sustainably, making your own is the perfect solution. It’s a lot easier to find whole coffee bean origin and production information than it is for already-manufactured espresso powder.
What You’ll Need
- Leftover fine coffee/espresso grounds*
- Baking sheet
- Burr coffee grinder or mortar and pestle
- Airtight container
*We recommend using a dark roast, though you could probably get away with a medium-dark one. Lighter roast coffee won’t give you the same texture or flavor profile dark joe will. Whatever roast you choose, be sure it’s finely ground before you start the process.
- Start by saving the espresso grounds from your latest brew. Make sure they’re relatively fresh, as any staleness will translate into your powder, and we don’t want that.
- Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if your oven’s temperature settings don’t go that low, just use the lowest one available.
- While the oven preheats, use the spatula to spread the brewed coffee grounds into a thin, flat layer on a baking sheet. We recommend lining the sheet with foil for easier cleanup, but you can skip that step if you want. Keep in mind that the more grounds you use, the more espresso powder you’ll get. It only has a shelf life of about a year, so don’t go overboard.
- Once the oven is heated, place your grounds in the oven and leave them there for about an hour. Check on them periodically. You’ll know it’s time to take them out when they’re dry and look toasted and crunchy.
- Remove the joe from the oven, and let the grounds cool. Then, to crush the coffee into a uniform powder, use a coffee grinder with a very fine grind option (or a mortar and pestle, if you’re a little more old school).
- Then, scoop the powder into a small, airtight canister. Be sure to label it with the date you made it so you know how long it can stay in your cabinet. And there you have it — your very own homemade espresso powder!
Espresso powder may make a pretty meh cup of coffee, but it ranks among our essential ingredients for baking sweet chocolate treats or whipping up savory sauces. The next time you’ve got your chef hat and apron on, make sure a jar of espresso powder is on your spice rack — trust us, it won’t disappoint!