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How to Make Espresso Powder at Home

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espresso powder

Have you just run across a recipe that calls for espresso powder? While you can certainly buy it online or at the grocery store, espresso powder is easy and inexpensive to make at home.

Why run to the store when you can fire up your oven instead? Keep reading to learn what espresso powder is, how to use it, and most importantly, how to make it at home.

What is espresso powder?

Espresso powder is made of dehydrated, finely ground espresso beans. It’s often made with espresso grounds that have already been used for brewing, so making it at home is a great way to use your old grounds. If you’re looking for more things to do with coffee grounds, check out our guide.

Espresso powder, like espresso, is rich, dark, and very flavorful. It’s much more concentrated than instant coffee powder, which also has a harsher, almost sour flavor. You can use one in place of the other, though the flavors will differ and you’ll need to add about twice as much instant coffee powder.

How do I use it?

Espresso powder is most often used in baking, particularly in recipes that involve chocolate. You may be surprised to learn that unless you add a lot of it, the espresso powder generally doesn’t impart a coffee flavor to your baked goods. Instead, it intensifies chocolate flavors, making them richer and more full. You can find espresso powder in recipes ranging from homemade ice cream to brownies.

You can also use espresso powder in dry rubs and spice blends, to add flavor to steaks, chicken breasts, and even braises and stews. Try experimenting with adding it to salad dressings, pot roasts, and barbecue sauces.

In a pinch, you can use espresso powder to make an instant shot of espresso, but be aware that it won’t have the full, deep flavor or mouthfeel of a shot that’s been traditionally pulled.

Keep in mind that espresso powder is very concentrated, so you won’t need to use a lot of it at a time.

What do I need?

Now that you know what it is and how to use it, it’s time to get cooking. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

The best beans for espresso powder are fresh and darkly roasted. Espresso is not a variety of coffee beans, like Arabica or Robusta, but instead refers to its dark roast, which helps your brewed espresso have bold and smoky flavor.

You can use previously brewed or fresh coffee grounds. If you make espresso powder using coffee that hasn’t been brewed, it will have a stronger flavor and higher caffeine content. Use slightly less of this more concentrated powder in your recipes.

What’s the process?

  1. Start by spreading your espresso grounds on a baking sheet. You’ll want to spread them into a thin layer. At this point, it doesn’t matter how finely ground your coffee is, but you don’t want to use whole beans. If you’re using a puck from your portafilter, make sure you break it all the way up. Don’t worry if your grounds are a little damp: the purpose of baking them in the oven is to dry them out. Depending how wet they are, you may need to bake them a little longer.

espresso powder

  1. Turn on your oven to a low setting, around 200° F. Put the baking sheet on a center rack, and let it bake for about an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the grounds are lightly toasted and fully dried.

espresso powder

  1. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let your grounds cool for a few minutes. Once they’re cool, grind them very finely in a coffee or spice grinder. Do this in batches if you need to. If you don’t have a grinder, use a mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender, or take a look at our guides to the best espresso and budget coffee grinders.

espresso powder

  1. Store your espresso powder in an airtight container. Like any spice, it will lose flavor as it comes into contact with oxygen. The flavor should maintain for at least six months, after which you may want to make a new batch.

espresso powder

The bottom line?

Now that you know how to make espresso powder at home, you can skip the trip to the store. Using these simple steps, you can transform your brewed espresso grounds into dried espresso powder, ideal for baking. Your chocolate cakes (and anyone who eats them) will thank you.

By Kate MacDonnell