What Is Espresso Powder And How To Make It At Home

Espresso powder, more commonly known as instant espresso powder, is typically used in baking to amplify other flavours, especially chocolate. Seasoned bakers often add this secret ingredient into chocolate and coffee desserts such as tiramisu, chocolate mousse, and even chocolate ganache.

While espresso powder helps elevate your baked goods, don’t sweat it if you don’t have any at home. Not only can it be substituted with other common baking ingredients, but you can also make espresso powder from scratch with the help of coffee machine accessories.

In this article, find out what espresso powder is, how you can substitute it with other ingredients, and how to make your own espresso powder at home.

What Is Espresso Powder?

brewing pour over coffee in drip
Brewing pour-over coffee, also known as filter or drip coffee. Photo from Tyler Nix.

As the name suggests, espresso powder is made from darkly roasted coffee beans that have been ground, brewed, dried, and then ground again to a fine powder.

Far from being an optional ingredient, the powder’s concentrated nutty flavour and rich bitter notes make it a versatile must-have in the kitchen. With uses not just limited to baking, espresso powder has found its way into the recipes of savoury dishes such as dry rubs for meat, stews, and even salsa dips.

How To Substitute Espresso Powder

Dedica Style Manual Espresso Machine on table
Enjoy authentic espresso at home with the De’Longhi Dedica Style Manual Espresso Machine, which is ultra slim and takes up little space on your kitchen countertop. Photo from De’Longhi.

Espresso powder is more commonly used to accent your cooking and baking recipes. However, for slow days or busy mornings when you don’t feel like whipping out your pump espresso coffee machine, having it as a drink can also help keep your caffeine cravings in check.

If you’re midway through a recipe and realise that you’ve run out of espresso powder, here are some handy substitutes:

  • Instant Coffee
  • Natural Cocoa Powder
  • Brewed Coffee

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is probably the closest alternative you can find to espresso powder in terms of taste and texture.

Instant coffee granules and espresso powder are made similarly; instant coffee also gives off the same colour as espresso powder. Hence, instant coffee is often the go-to alternative to espresso powder.

Our Tip:

Reach for the dark roast instant coffee granules to achieve the closest taste to that of espresso powders. As espresso powder is stronger than instant coffee, you will need to use approximately 50% more instant coffee.

So, if the recipe calls for ½ tablespoon of espresso powder, you can run with ¾ to 1 tablespoon of instant coffee instead.

Natural Cocoa Powder

If you’re seeking out an alternative closest to achieving the bitterness of espresso powder, natural cocoa powder is your next best bet. Cocoa powder is commonly used in baking to make chocolate treats, and is made from roasted cacao beans.

Our Tip:

While most chocolate-based recipes already call for a touch of cocoa powder, it is advisable to add double the quantity to compensate for the lack of espresso powder.

Instead of Dutch-processed cocoa powder, use natural cocoa powder that hasn’t been alkalised to give you the bitterness you’re looking for.

Brewed Coffee

If you happen to have leftover brewed coffee from breakfast, it’s your lucky day: it’s an excellent substitute for espresso powder.

For one, it’s convenient, especially for recipes that already have liquid in them, such as dips and batter-based treats. Two, it allows you to achieve a similar taste to espresso powder as long as you’re using a dark roast-flavoured brewed coffee.

Our Tip:

This substitution applies only to recipes that already have liquid in them, such as dips and batter-based treats.

Depending on the recipe itself, you might need to reduce the amount of liquid if you use brewed coffee to substitute espresso powder. Opt for a dark roast to achieve a similar taste to espresso powder, and brew with approximately a quarter less water than you would typically use.

How To Make Your Own Espresso Powder

Brewing ground coffee before stamping
Freshly ground coffee before stamping. Photo from Noora AlHammadi.

If you often bake and brew coffee at home, why not make your espresso powder from scratch? It does take a little more time and effort, but the result is handmade espresso powder crafted to your liking.

If you already have a coffee machine at home, this is your chance to maximise and get creative with your coffee machine!

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Step 1: Select a rich, dark roast coffee or espresso bean of choice.
  • Step 2: Brew the coffee grounds.
  • Step 3: Spread the already-brewed coffee grounds on a baking sheet, and bake at 77°C for two to three hours.
  • Step 4: Grind the dried coffee grounds further using a coffee grinder until you get a fine powder.
  • Step 5: Finally, store your espresso powder in an airtight container to maintain its flavour.

If you’re looking for roasted coffee beans in Singapore and wish to buy fresh coffee beans online, De’Longhi’s extensive range is going to leave you spoilt for choice.

Espresso Powder — More Than Just Coffee

The bold punchiness of espresso powder means a little goes a long way in creating deep, complex flavours. Add a sprinkle into chocolate cookie and brownie batters, stews or even over steaks, and let this flavour enhancer work its magic.

While nothing beats espresso powder in its purest form, these readily available substitutes are on hand if you find yourself short or if you’re feeling experimental.

If you’re struck by the versatility of what this powder can do, get more coffee inspiration and tips sent straight to your inbox by signing up for De’Longhi Rewards. Stocking up on varieties of coffee powder pays off in dividends; after all, the best ingredients in the kitchen are the ones that can do it all.