Coffee is one of the most important beverages around the world. In fact, a lot of the world’s productivity is dependent on this drink. This drink is enjoyed in various ways around the world making it a pretty diverse drink that can be enjoyed by everyone as there is always a unique blend of coffee that will be right for you. One of the most popular coffee variants is the espresso and it is easy to see why. It has a super strong taste, extremely high amounts of caffeine, and is super fast to make whether you buy it or you make it yourself. However, what many people don’t know is that coffee can be used for more than just a power booster drink. In fact, it is often used in a lot of food items to impart a rich, deep, and complex flavor.
Espresso powder is actually commonly used a lot in baking as it adds a lot of depth and flavor to any baked treat. If you are wondering how to make espresso powder, then you might be surprised to learn that it is far easier and a lot different to what you are expecting it to be.
What is It? How to Make Espresso Powder Done Right
Before we tackle espresso powder, we will first need to define what an espresso is in the first place. It is a type of coffee making procedure that uses very fine grounds and is placed into an espresso machine. Pressurized boiling water is then passed through the grounds to extract a super concentrated coffee. It is quick, efficient, and delivers a very strong coffee shot that is often mixed with milk or other liquids to form the coffee drinks that we often buy in the popular coffee shops.
It does require a specialized machine but the pressurized boiling water is integral to the process. If you are wondering what espresso powder is, you would assume that it comes from the same process. However, espresso powder is actually a lot easier to make since you don’t need to have an espresso machine in the first place. There are simple steps on how to make homemade espresso powder. You only need espresso beans, an oven, and a spice grinder and you’ll be able to make your own espresso powder at home.
What is Instant Espresso Coffee Powder
Of course, the question then becomes, why would you want to make your own espresso powder at home when you can easily buy instant espresso coffee powder in the supermarket. While this is true, there is actually an important difference between these two items. Instant Espresso Powder is espresso made through normal means which is then dehydrated and ground into small granules. If you add water to it, it rehydrates to become espresso again. This is similar to instant coffee wherein regular coffee is then dehydrated and ground up into granules then you only need to add water for it to rehydrate and become regular coffee.
Espresso powder, on the other hand, isn’t actually made with espresso but is made from the whole bean. It actually has a different purpose and application compared to the instant espresso powder and isn’t exactly an inferior or a superior product to it. They are both made differently and they both have different uses. Although, just like instant coffee, the dehydrating process tends to remove some flavor compounds which means that your rehydrated espresso from an instant espresso powder will never come close to a freshly made espresso. However, if you are really in a hurry or you have no access to an espresso machine, this will suffice in a pinch. However, making your own is still the best since you can use the best espresso beans if you do it yourself.
Is Espresso Powder the Same as Ground Coffee?
In a similar manner, espresso powder is different from ground coffee although it does have more similarities to it that instant coffee or instant espresso powder. Ground coffee is essentially roasted coffee beans that have been ground so that it can be used to make coffee. As mentioned, there are different ways of making coffee which means different methods will require different ground types. For example, if you are using the Gaggia Classic Pro which is an espresso machine, you will need to get very finely ground coffee since fine grounds are a must for espresso making. On the other hand, if you are using a traditional French Press, then opting for a medium sized grind coffee is actually ideal.
Espresso needs fine coffee grinds so that the pressurized boiling water passes through the coffee longer so as to extract the maximum amounts of flavor in a short amount of time. Alternatively, the water in a French Press stays in full contact with the coffee grounds for a long time since the water completely submerges the coffee and doesn’t just pass through. A medium grind will prevent over-extraction which will draw out the bitter and sour tastes. If you have a coffee grinder, you can grind coffee beans to the coarseness that suits you.
How to Make the Best Espresso Powder?
Now that we have clearly defined what is espresso powder and how it is different to instant espresso powder, we can now talk about what espresso powder is. If you want the best espresso powder, then making it at home is the best solution. However, you can also simply opt to buy them from the stores but they will cost you. If you don’t have the time or the necessary equipment, then, by all means, buying them is actually a viable solution. Just be aware that they don’t come cheap and that there are actually many brands to choose from so you will have to do your research on which one tastes the best.
Much like with anything, searching for online reviews is one of the easiest and best ways to find out the quality of the espresso powder you are planning to buy. If there are no good brands in your area, then you can even purchase them online. The internet is your friend when it comes to this so that you are sure to purchase the best one that you can get. However, if you have the time and equipment, making your own can’t be beaten since you have full control over the process and you are sure to make the best espresso powder since you will be using coffee that you actually like.
How Do You Make Espresso Powder?
The first thing you will need is to get good espresso beans. If you are worried about the whole espresso vs coffee bean debate the simple answer is that espresso is a kind of coffee as it is a drink that comes from the coffee bean. We have also mentioned that espresso is a type of brewing process which means that it is coffee but it is a different kind of coffee. It is completely different from your typical coffee maker coffee as the process to make it is different. This difference in method is important to take note of since a different process will mean different flavors. This means that if you use the same coffee bean and brew espresso in the coffee maker and use the same to make espresso, you will actually get a different flavor profile.
Therefore, manufacturers actually use a coffee bean that plays to the strength of the espresso brewing method so this is what they call as an espresso bean. They call it as such because the flavors of this particular bean play nicely with the espresso machine to produce the best coffee possible. You can make regular coffee from this bean but you would be wasting its potential. On the other hand, you can use any regular coffee bean and use it in an espresso machine and you will get good espresso. However, certain flavors and notes will be lost in the process since this coffee bean isn’t the best suited for high pressurized brewing.
You can choose whatever espresso bean that you like as long as they are whole beans and haven’t been ground yet. Now that you have your espresso beans, you will then need to spread them into a single layer onto a baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 200°F or 93 °C and put your espresso beans inside the oven for 1 to 1.5 hours. You might notice that the oven temperature is actually pretty low and this is because we’re not looking to actually cook the beans. In most cases, it has been cooked perfectly by the manufacturer and we only want to roast them a bit to activate and wake up the flavors.
However, what we really want to achieve is to dry or dehydrate the beans which is why we are baking them at a low temperature but for an extended amount of time. We want them to be dry so that they can be ground better and they will have a long shelf life since there is very little moisture left. Baking them a bit will also make them less bitter and will slightly caramelize the beans which make it even more flavorful. Make sure that the beans are spread in a single layer and aren’t touching one another so that they can dry out properly.
Once done, simply let them cool for a bit and grind them very finely using a spice grinder. It is not advisable to use a blender for this purpose. You will want very, very fine grounds so make sure to give them a very good grinding. Grind them in batches and don’t overcrowd your coffee grinder for perfect results, but a mortar and pestle can also work. Once you’ve ground all of the beans, you can then store them in an airtight container. If you dried them up correctly, they will last for 6 months when stored properly.
That’s it; you’ve successfully made your own batch of espresso powder. What’s great about making it yourself is that you get to decide on the kind of espresso bean that you want to use. If you like drinking the bean, then you will surely like the taste and flavor of the espresso powder that you have just made. So now that you have your own homemade espresso powder, just what can you do with it and what can you use it for? As mentioned, this powder is often used in baked goods as it adds tons of depth, flavor, and complexity. However, it doesn’t make the food taste like coffee. In fact, it is seldom used to add coffee flavors but is used to amplify certain flavors like chocolate or chili.
Easy to do Espresso Powder Recipe
We didn’t just hype up espresso powder for nothing; with this in your pantry, you can actually start improving tons of dishes that you wouldn’t even think of adding espresso powder to. The most popular use for this powder is for chocolate cakes, brownies, or any chocolate flavored desert or baked dish. For example, you can create your brownies as normal but you can add a bit of espresso powder to your chocolate. This won’t make homemade brownie taste like coffee but it amplifies the chocolate taste. Espresso powder makes chocolate taste more chocolate-y.
That might seem surprising but it is actually why espresso powders are used with chocolate. The flavor profile of the espresso powder amplifies the chocolate’s own flavors without muddying it up. A surprising espresso powder recipe that you might not have heard of before is actually roast meats. If you are planning to roast a hunk of meat like a whole chicken or a big beef brisket, then you can add a lot of flavor to it by using what is called a dry rub. A dry rub is simply a mixture of a lot of flavorful powders that is rubbed all over the meat before putting it in the grill or oven.
Typically, a dry rub contains salt, pepper, and powerful spices like paprika, cayenne, cumin, onion powder, etc. Adding a bit of espresso powder to this dry rub changes the entire flavor of the roast for the better. Again, similar to the baked chocolate dishes, it doesn’t make the food taste like coffee but it adds depth and complexity in the flavor. Think of it as adding a sort of deep and dark flavor to your roast chicken or beef. Another recipe that you might be surprised to see it in is chili. People have different ways of making their chili and there is no right or wrong way.
Like cocoa powder, adding espresso powder to the chili can also give those deep, roasted, complex flavors that we are looking for. This plays well with the long and slow stewing process of the chili and merges all of the fruity and spicy flavors of the spices that you put in. As you can see, adding espresso powder to any dish adds practically the same thing: depth, complexity, and roasted flavors. This means that if you want your dish to have those flavors, then you will surely benefit from adding espresso powder to it. In fact, some even put it in curry for the same reasons!
Can I use ground espresso instead of espresso powder?
If you are looking to add coffee flavor to something then using an espresso powder won’t cut it so you will need to prepare real espresso and use that. For example, if you are planning to make a coffee flavored cake, then you will need to use real espresso for this. If you have an espresso machine such as Mr. Coffee Espresso Machine or something similar, then you only need to prepare one batch of espresso and add that. If you don’t have an espresso machine, then you can simply go out to the nearest coffee shop that serves espresso based drinks such as cappuccino or latte. If they serve espresso mixed coffee drinks, they will most likely sell espresso on a per shot basis too.
You can simply order a single or a double shot espresso for take-out and use that instead. However, be sure to use the espresso within the day as it will lose a lot of its flavor when left out for too long. It will also develop a weird flavor and smell if left out for too long so be sure to buy your espresso fresh just as you are about to make your coffee flavored cake or pastry.
Enjoying Your Homemade Espresso Powder
As you can see, you can do a lot with your homemade espresso powder and it can be used in tons of recipes from sweet to savory. You don’t have to limit yourself to baked goods as you can use it on grilled chicken, smoked ribs, barbecue sauces, etc. Sky’s the limit for this one. Just treat it as you would any spice in your cupboard like paprika or cinnamon. If you think that the dish will benefit from having extra depth and complexity of flavor, an umami boost, or a roasted flavor, then try adding espresso powder to it. Even a little bit can go a long way as it is super concentrated with flavor.
However, if you don’t want the extra caffeine in your foods, then you can try using decaf espresso instead when making your own homemade espresso powder. While espresso powder does add a lot of flavor it still also adds caffeine to the food. So if you are someone that needs to watch their blood pressure and can’t have too much caffeine, then you can actually make a decaf version instead. This is the beauty of making your own espresso powder since you have complete control over it.
What is a good substitute for espresso powder?
So let’s say you are cooking and you really want to use your homemade espresso powder but you forgot to make a new batch and you are all out. There are things espresso powder do to your cooking, but there are alternatives. If you are really in a pinch, there are some substitutes that you can use. The first and most obvious would be brewed espresso. However, as mentioned above, this will certainly add a coffee flavor to your dish. If having a bit of coffee flavor is alright with you, and then you can use this as an obvious replacement but if you are simply looking for the added depth of flavor without having it overpoweringly coffee then you can try instant coffee.
It isn’t as rich and as concentrated as espresso powder so you will need to add a bit more. You will need 50% more instant coffee to achieve the same flavor profile. Still, the problem with using instant coffee is that it tends to be tarter and has a harsher taste than the balanced flavor of the espresso powder. However, in a pinch, this can be an effective substitute especially since it is a lot easier to find and buy. Of course, nothing beats the real homemade stuff so it would be best to just stock up on a lot to avoid the hassle of running out.
Espresso powder is one of those things that not a lot of people know about which is a shame since it is one of the most powerful pantry staples around. If you have this in your spice rack, the amount of dishes you can elevate is astounding. Even better is that it is actually very easy to make especially if you buy and grind your own coffee. Drinking coffee is a staple to almost every home but using espresso powder in dishes isn’t as popular yet. Fortunately, the varying uses of espresso powder is gaining a lot more traction because of the internet as there are a lot more people sharing their recipes and talking about it.
Even famous chefs are talking about it now which is increasing its popularity even more. Of course, it helps a lot that you can easily make it at home to produce the best results. So the next time you make your coffee and you have some extra time, why not set aside a cup of beans or so and roast them low and slow in the oven to make some of the best espresso powder that you ever have. With this in your pantry, your chocolate cakes will be more complex, your beef roasts will have more roasted flavors, and your chilies will have more depth.