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What is Espresso Powder?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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For anyone that enjoys a cup of espresso now and then, it is possible to make your own espresso powder, using the brewed grounds from your coffee machine. Here are the basics of how this powder is made, as well as some suggestions for using it.

Espresso powder begins life as a select variety of coffee beans that are cultivated specifically for the brewing of espresso. Usually, the beans are ground just before the espresso is brewed. Once the grounds have been used to make espresso, they do not have to be discarded. Instead, the used grounds can be dried and then crushed into a fine powder. The grounds retain a great deal of flavor and the powder that is made from the crushed grounds will have plenty of taste and aroma. The end result is a handy cooking additive that can be used in a number of different recipes for both foods and drinks.

One of the more common uses of espresso powder is to whip up a cup of instant espresso. Spooned into hot water or milk in the same manner that instant coffee is used, the powdered espresso produces a great tasting cup of espresso in just minutes.

Along with making a quick cup of espresso, it is possible to include espresso powder in a number of desserts. For example, when preparing a chocolate filling in a double boiler, add one or two teaspoons of espresso powder to provide extra flavor to the filling. Cakes can also benefit from this material as well. A little powder added to the cake batter before baking will enhance the overall taste and also accentuate the vanilla flavoring that is commonly used in many cakes. Even something as simple as fried fruit pies may find a little espresso flavor to be welcome.

This material can also be used as a garnish on some foods as well. For example, a light dusting of turnovers or cooked fruit will work well. In like manner, applying espresso powder instead of powdered sugar to a Bundt cake will make a welcome change not only in appearance but also in taste.

For persons who do not wish to take the time to dry and crush their own espresso powder from coffee grounds, there are commercially packaged brands. These can often be found in the gourmet sections of the local supermarket, as well as at specialty food shops.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Kristee — On Feb 15, 2013

I used espresso powder to lend a coffee flavor to my chocolate truffles. The result was an addictive dessert!

I melted a mixture of semi-sweet and milk chocolate squares in a pot on the stovetop. I mixed in some heavy whipping cream and some espresso powder and whisked it all together until it started to thicken.

Then, I refrigerated the whole pot until the chocolate mixture was solid enough to roll into balls. I dipped these into more melted chocolate for a smooth coating.

These truffles are so rich! They taste great with coffee, and I've been known to eat one or two in the morning with my coffee for an extra pick-me-up.

By candyquilt — On Nov 09, 2012

@anon26608-- You need a coffee grinder, you can't do it with a food processor. Although a nut or spice grinder would work too.

By discographer — On Nov 08, 2012

Once the coffee grounds are used once, don't they become bitter or become unhealthy after that?

I know for example that we're not supposed to use black tea twice because it releases toxins after the first time.

Doesn't coffee do the same? Is espresso powder unhealthy?

By SarahGen — On Nov 07, 2012

What I fantastic way of re-using coffee! It's one of the best ideas I have ever heard.

I love coffee, and I have espresso at a cafe or at home everyday. Now I feel like I have wasted so much coffee because I didn't know I could use the ground coffee to make espresso powder.

I'm going to do this from now on though. In winter, I like making mochas at home with cocoa powder and instant coffee. Espresso powder will be perfect for that!

By anon57313 — On Dec 22, 2009

Starbucks Via is a mixture of instant coffee (dried-out brewed coffee) and very finely powdered roasted coffee beans. If espresso powder is truly once-used espresso beans that are then finely ground, Starbucks Via may actually be better. I haven't tried espresso powder but I have tried Via and it is decent tasting. My wife has used it in baking, with good results.

By anon50577 — On Oct 29, 2009

can you use new via instant powder from starbucks? they are giving away samples right now.

By anon42639 — On Aug 22, 2009

Blow that. I'd be using instant coffee granules. You can even buy espresso versions of instant cofee these days.

By anon38243 — On Jul 24, 2009

I tried to grind coffee in a food processor...no good. I was using it to flavor ice cream I was making. Dumped it. Wasn't fine enough and I wound up with fine grounds throughout the ice cream. Am now trying to hand ground the old fashioned way, with a mortar and pestle. Will let you know...


By mavys1958 — On Feb 28, 2009

Are finely ground espresso beans the same thing as espresso powder?

By anon26608 — On Feb 16, 2009

to grind used espresso grounds, can that be done in a food processor or do you need a coffee grinder?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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