Throughout my career as a professional chef, I have approached every individual ingredient available to me in the kitchen as its own beast to tame. When you look closely enough at even the most humble additions to a recipe, like salt for example, a whole history and universe opens up reminding you that there is always more to know and learn. This is one of the driving principles behind my website,, which is to learn and explore food and cooking.

Sure, some ingredients are by their nature simpler to understand than others, but coffee is one of the truly sneaking ones. Over the years, I have come to love cooking and baking with it because it forces me to explore it’s rich history, place in our modern culture, and the seemingly endless varieties and roasts that come together to form our favorite cup.

Coffee, especially in baking, adds a depth and flavor that is very difficult to achieve without it. In fact, coffee and chocolate compliment each other so well that you’d be hard pressed to find a cupcake shop or bakery that isn’t using coffee somewhere in their menu. It’s for this reason that I decided to share with you my favorite Coffee Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream Frosting recipe with you today. Not only are they easy to make in terms of preparation and baking time (you can have these in the oven in under 30 minutes), but the flavor of the coffee really comes through. In my experiments, a darker roast does seem to work best for imparting a rich coffee flavor, but I always encourage you to experiment and fine-tune any recipe to suit your specific taste buds.

The texture of this cupcake is absolutely perfect and with the addition of the espresso buttercream frosting, I’m confident you’re sure to have a new favorite cupcake recipe. So with that out of the way, lets get into the nitty-gritty:

The Recipe

Makes: about 15 cupcakes

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Baking Time 15-18 minutes




½ cup dark brewed coffee, room temperature

1½ teaspoons fine espresso powder

½ cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1⅓ cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, unsalted

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

1 egg

Espresso Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup butter, unsalted

2½ cups powdered sugar

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1½ teaspoons fine espresso powder


Directions for Cupcakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a standard-size muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
  2. Whisk whisk the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until it is completely dissolved. Then add the milk and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Preferably with an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until mixed well and takes on a fluffy texture. Add the egg and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the coffee mixture, mixing each until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, give the batter a final stir to ensure everything is incorporated.
  5. Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely before frosting the cupcakes.


Directions for Frosting

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside.
  2. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high speed until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary.
  3. Frost the cupcakes as desired.

I hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as my family and I do.  I usually go pretty heavy on the frosting, but again, feel free to experiment and mix it up! And don’t worry if you don’t use it all because it’s great for a quick hit of something sweet!

Remy Bernard

A baker, chef and writer, Remy started as a way to deepen and spread her passion for making delicious food. What started out as a blog with home and cooking tips has expanded into a thorough resource for cookware guides and reviews.

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