Is Espresso Powder the Same as Ground Coffee? Myth Debunked


If you’re looking for espresso powder, the chances are high that you’re baking. Espresso powder is often an ingredient in some of the richest chocolate baked goods. It adds a depth of flavor that many people crave.

While coffee grounds are more likely to be a pantry staple, they aren’t the same as espresso powder. You could substitute instant coffee powder if you have no espresso powder on hand, but not coffee grounds. Coffee grounds don’t mix right with baked goods and change the texture.

Espresso powder may seem like an unattainable, magical substance if you want it and can’t find it, but it’s not really more complicated than most coffee products!

Please keep reading to learn more about espresso powder, how to use it, and how to make it when your store doesn’t carry it.

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What Is Espresso Powder?

Espresso powder is a form of espresso that’s used in cooking. Specifically, it’s usually used in baking.

It’s essentially dried, previously brewed, ground espresso beans that are ground further into a fine powder.

The result is a powder that dissolves easily into food. It makes for a great addition to baked goods, and it makes a good rub for certain meats.

You can buy it in some grocery stores, especially specialty stores, and you can buy it at online retailers like Amazon.

How Is Espresso Powder Made?

Espresso powder is often relatively expensive and can be difficult to find. Luckily, it’s not difficult to make, provided you have an espresso machine or access to a trusted person’s used grounds.

You can also make a similar product using leftover coffee grounds instead, but if you take this route, be sure to use a decent dark roast.

Take the leftover espresso grounds and dry them thoroughly. The best way to do this is to have them in the oven for 1-3 hours at a very low temperature, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn or start roasting further.

Espresso beans are already generally dark roasted, so roasting the beans further is likely to result in quite bitter grounds.

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Next, grind the dried espresso grounds even further. You can use a coffee grinder, a food processor, or a pestle. Once you have a very fine powder, you’re done!

Commercially available espresso powder has been prepared much the same way, but likely on a much larger scale. A cup of processed grounds translates to about a cup of espresso powder.

What’s the Difference Between Espresso Powder and Ground Coffee in Drinks?

If you’re trying to make a caffeinated drink, only one of these products will give you the desired result.

You can use ground coffee in any brewing device to make regular coffee. Espresso powder, however, is only used in cooking.

Since the espresso powder grounds have already been brewed, using them to make another espresso would result in a really weak cup of espresso.

What’s the Difference Between Espresso Powder and Ground Coffee in Cooking?

Just like with drinking, only one of these products will give you the result you’re looking for cooking.

If you mix ground coffee into a recipe, the texture will likely be different, and so will the flavor.

Coffee grounds do not dissolve the same way, so incorporation usually fails. If you have espresso powder and ground coffee, be sure you know which one you need because they are not interchangeable.

As a general rule, you’ll want to use ground coffee for making coffee drinks, and you’ll want to use espresso powder for cooking food.

How Does Espresso Powder Affect The Taste of Recipes?

Espresso powder is most often used in baking, especially with chocolate-baked goods.

This is because the espresso powder enhances the chocolate’s flavor when it’s added in the right amount.

Instead of making the chocolate taste like coffee, it makes it taste like the richest, most flavorful chocolate you’ve ever had.

Of course, if you add a lot more espresso powder, you’ll get a mocha flavor, with coffee and chocolate mixing together to form that distinctive flavor.

This method definitely changes the taste rather than simply enhancing it.

When used in a rub for meat, it enhances the other rub ingredients’ spice or sweetness. It is also really compatible with smoked or smokey flavorings.

How Do I Use Espresso Powder in Baking?

How you use espresso powder in cooking really depends on your goal! Espresso powder is quite versatile.

You can use it to enhance existing flavors or to add the rich taste of espresso.

You can use it in baking, sweet treats, impressive culinary masterpieces, and the best meal you’ve ever eaten.

Exactly how you use it in each situation will depend on the recipe you’re using. Luckily, there are many fantastic recipes to choose from.

What Are the Best Things to Cook Using Espresso Powder?

There is practically an endless number of different recipes available for using espresso powder in your cooking.

Some types of recipes are more common than others because the flavors mix so well. Let’s look a little closer at some of these types of food.

A backed cake is one of the most popular recipes to used with espresso powder.

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The result is a rich, moist chocolate cake that practically explodes with deep chocolate notes.

The espresso serves to enhance the chocolate flavor, giving it depth it wouldn’t have otherwise without making it too bitter, which might be the result if you added more cocoa powder.

Some of the best-tasting chocolate cakes actually have a bit of espresso powder in them.

Brownies are another tasty chocolate treat that can be enhanced by espresso powder.

Like with cake, you can either add enough to enhance the chocolate flavor or add enough to give the brownies a distinct mocha flavor.

It generally makes gloriously fudgy brownies with a nice, crispy crust.

Espresso can also be used as a primary ingredient in meat rubs, usually dry rubs for pork or beef. It’s usually mixed with some chile powder.

There’s also often something sweet, like brown sugar. It seems like too many flavors to work well together, but it makes a lovely, smokey, rich flavor.

Can I Omit Espresso Powder From the Recipe I Found?

You can omit espresso powder from recipes, but be aware that it may change the flavor drastically.

Instead, it’s usually a good idea to replace it with something else. As discussed above, it’s not a great idea to try to replace it with coffee grounds. However, there are some acceptable substitutes.

Instant coffee powder can produce a similar taste. Be aware that the flavor or enhancing effect won’t be as strong since coffee isn’t as strongly flavored as espresso.

Adding more will likely give the recipe the taste of coffee rather than of espresso, but it’ll be closer than omitting espresso entirely.

You can also use instant espresso. This will likely end up in a more full-bodied espresso taste, and depending on how much the recipe is cooked, it may have more caffeine.

Some people recommend adding actual, liquid espresso to recipes. However, make sure that either you’re good at adjusting recipes on the fly or that the recipe specifies espresso rather than espresso powder.

This is because adding even a single ounce of liquid to a baked recipe can throw off the proportions and keep baked goods from setting properly.

Does Espresso Powder Make Your Baked Goods Taste Like Coffee?

It depends! If you add just the recommended amount to a chocolate recipe, it simply enhances the chocolate flavor.

It doesn’t make it taste like coffee. However, suppose you want a mocha flavor, with the coffee flavor evident and mixing with the chocolate in a complementary way.

In that case, you can just increase the amount of espresso powder. With extra espresso powder, you should be able to detect a coffee flavor.

Can I Use Finely Ground Coffee Beans Instead of Espresso Powder?

Even finely-ground coffee beans aren’t the same as espresso powder. They might dissolve a little better than regular coffee grounds, but the flavor won’t be mixed in as well.

There’s also a high chance of getting a gritty texture since the grounds won’t properly dissolve.

If you absolutely must add ground coffee beans to your recipe (maybe your heart is set on that type of flavor, but you have nothing else available and no time to dry the grounds), then make sure that the coffee is ground as finely as possible.

This gives it the best chance to melding well and will give the least possible grittiness.

Is Instant Espresso Powder Different Than Espresso Powder?

While espresso powder is used in cooking, instant espresso powder is designed to make instant espresso drinks by adding hot water.

Like instant coffee, instant espresso powder tends to create a watered-down version of the normal drink. It’s also basically the same product as instant coffee.

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