These espresso cupcakes use both brewed coffee and instant espresso powder for a punch of flavor. The cupcake is light and fluffy and is topped with a delicious espresso buttercream frosting. If your’e a coffee lover you’ll love these cupcakes!

A dozen espresso cupcakes topped with chocolate covered espresso beans on a gray surface

Coffee is my ultimate favorite flavor to bake with. Whether its these coffee chocolate chip cookies, these coffee blondies, or this coffee cheesecake, I literally cannot get enough of it. I just love coffee desserts!

The espresso cupcakes are easy to make in just one bowl, whether or not you use a mixer. They have a light coffee flavor that isn’t to heavy or sweet and bake up in only 18 minutes. Top them with the espresso buttercream frosting and you can skip your morning cup of joe! As an alternative you can also top them with this coffee buttercream frosting!

When I was in pastry school at Le Cordon Bleu, one of our assignments was to make a cake and buttercream in any flavor we wanted. I immediately went for the coffee and never looked back! This time I decided to add to my list of cupcake recipes with espresso cupcakes!

To add another level of flavor and texture I topped these cupcakes with crushed, and whole chocolate covered espresso beans. They make for cute decorations too!

To up the cute factor even more you can learn how to bake and decorate cute cupcakes!

Why you should make this recipe

Ingredients you need

Ingredients for espresso cupcakes on a grey surface

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes and you will need the following ingredients:

  • Flour– Flour is the bulk of the recipe.
  • Granulated white sugar– White sugar adds the sweetness and helps with structure of the cupcakes
  • Brown sugar-Brown sugar gives the cupcake a deeper flavor.
  • Kosher salt- Salt enhances the flavor
  • Baking soda & Baking Powder– These help the cupcakes rise in the oven
  • Eggs- Eggs help with the structure of the cupcakes.
  • Vegetable oil– Oil is the fat used in the recipe to keep these moist and tender.
  • Milk– I used 2% but you can use any kind you like.
  • Brewed black coffee– This deepens the coffee flavor
  • Instant espresso granules– see notes below!

Difference between Instant Espresso and Espresso Powder

You can any instant espresso granules that you find in the grocery store. This is not the same as espresso powder. Espresso powder is different because it is more finely ground and is made for baking. It is a little bit harder to find which is why I specifically made this recipe with the instant stuff because we are all about ease people!

How to make Espresso Cupcakes

Preheat- Preheat the oven to 350° F and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Combine dry ingredients– In a medium size bowl or the bowl of a hand mixer or stand mixer combine the flour, both sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine.

Add Fat- Add the eggs one at a time mixing in between. Next add in the vegetable oil, and continue to mix.

Pour wet ingredients- Slowly add in the milk and whisk or mix on low speed. In a measuring cup add the brewed coffee and the instant espresso granules. Mix to combine the two. Add the coffee mixture into the batter and continue mixing until the batter is smooth.

Prepare a muffin tin fill the muffin 2/3 of the way full. An easy way to do this is by using an ice cream scoop.

Bake- Bake the cupcakes for 18 mins. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then cool completely on a wire rack.


Top the cupcakes with this insanely fluffy espresso buttercream. Seriously, I can eat this with just a spoon!

You can pipe the buttercream on using a piping bag and a tip. Or you can just cut off the corner of a zip top bag and pipe it on like that if you don’t have any professional baking tools.

I also used chocolate covered espresso beans that I found in Trader Joes. I like using these ones because they are different colors which makes the cupcakes even prettier.

Cupcakes topped espresso buttercream and chocolate covered espresso beans scattered across a grey surface

Storing and Freezing Tips

You do not need to refrigerate these cupcakes whether or not they are topped with the buttercream. They will stay fresh in an airtight container or cake dome for 5 days at room temperature.

If you want to make them ahead, I suggest you make the cupcakes up to 2 days in advance and then make the buttercream and frost the day you are serving them.

To freeze, make the cupcakes then place them in a freezer safe zip top bag and press out all the air. Freeze for up to 3 months without the buttercream, then frost on the day you plan to serve them.

Recipe tips

  • Make sure you use room temperature ingredients to help create a smooth batter. Learn how to soften butter quickly.
  • Measure your flour correctly. Use a kitchen scale or spoon flour into your measuring cup and then level it off.
  • To make brewed coffee for this recipe, combine 2 oz hot water with 1/2 tsp instant coffee
  • This recipe only makes 12 cupcakes. You can double this recipe easily for 24.
  • If you want to make these into minis you totally can! Bake them for 12 minutes.

Recipe FAQ

Should you use espresso, coffee grounds, or brewed coffee in cupcakes? This recipe used brewed coffee AND espresso powder for a really nice coffee flavor. Espresso powder is preferred because it has a deeper coffee flavor but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Can you add espresso to buttercream or frosting? – Yes! You can either add in the powder directly, or you can dissolve it in hot water and add it once its cooled. The powder is preferred because it wont water down the frosting. Check out my espresso buttercream frosting recipe for how to make it!

How do you make coffee-flavored baked goods? Espresso powder is made for baking and making coffee flavored desserts! All it takes is a teaspoon or 2 added to your favorite recipes to give a great coffee flavor. Make sure to check out all my coffee desserts, some are listed below!

More Espresso and coffee flavored desserts

Espresso cupcakes on a white surface next to chocolate covered espresso beans in a bowl
5 stars (1 rating)

The Best Fluffy Espresso Cupcakes

These espresso cupcakes use both brewed coffee and instant espresso powder for a punch of flavor. The cupcake is light and fluffy and is topped with a delicious espresso buttercream frosting. If your'e a coffee lover you'll love these cupcakes!


  • 2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (109 g) vegetable oil
  • 2 (2) eggs, large
  • 1/2 cup (122 g) milk, any kind
  • 1/4 cup (59.15 g) brewed instant coffee
  • 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) instant espresso


  • Dry ingredients whisked together in a stainless steel mixing bowl
    Preheat the oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp baking powder and mix on low speed.
  • Add the eggs one at a time mixing in between. Next add in the 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Mix on low- medium speed until combined. About 30 seconds.
  • Slowly pour the 1/2 cup milk in. In a measuring cup combine the 1/4 cup brewed coffee and 1 tsp instant espresso and combine. Slowly pour the coffee mixture into the batter. Mix until combined.
  • Cupcake batter in a 12 cup muffin tin on a grey surface
    Line a 12 cup cupcake tin with liners and fill only 2/3rd of the way up. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the cupcakes are puffed up and springy in the middle.
  • One espresso cupcake with it sliber pulled down on a gray surface


Instant espresso is not the same as espresso powder. This recipe uses instant espresso granules that are easily found in any grocery store. 
Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 177kcal, Carbohydrates: 38g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 28mg, Sodium: 109mg, Potassium: 234mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 56IU, Calcium: 43mg, Iron: 1mg
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