10 Best Espresso Powder Substitutes For You

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If you’re a coffee and dessert addict, more times than often, you’ll be looking for espresso powder substitutes. Why? Because you might’ve exhausted the very fuel of your rich desserts; espresso powder. Also, espresso powder finds a lot of uses in the patisserie world.

espresso powder

Espresso powder is the secret to many of your rich chocolate desserts. It adds the perfect taste and color to the dishes. But if you do run out of it, what is your backup. Let me make it clear, panicking is not an option. The only ‘rational’ option is either running to the store to find espresso powder or making do with the alternatives you have.

Lucky for you, I have just the list for you. Yes, I have a carefully curated ensemble of the best espresso powder substitutes, some of which are instant coffee, natural cocoa powder, brewed coffee, match powder, and carob powder. 

Interesting, right? The best part is some of them are even caffeine-free, so you get the rich taste without the caffeine jitters. One happy news after another! Ok, I’ll calm down. I’ll tell you all you need to know about espresso powder first, and then we’ll move to its list of substitutes. Let’s go!

Quick Peek: Espresso Powder

espresso powder and a coffee bean

So, this section is a little course on espresso powder. It contains everything about these ingredients’ texture, flavor, uses, and even their health benefits. Let’s begin, shall we?

What Is Espresso Powder?

Espresso powder, contrary to popular belief, is not used for making espresso or other drinks. It is instead an intensely dark roasted coffee mostly used in baked goods. Normally, the word ‘powder’ would insinuate a finely ground coffee. But espresso powder comprises coffee crystals, making it easy for the powder to mix well in all media.

Describing Espresso Powder: Flavor and Texture

As the espresso powder is just intensely dark roasted coffee, you know it will be intensely bitter. Thus, you need to use only a small amount of espresso powder to add that rich and decadent taste. If we talk about texture, as espresso powder is not exactly a powder but has crystals, it has a coarser texture. 

Uses of Espresso Powder

So, I have clarified that espresso powder has little to do with your espresso or morning coffee. Espresso powder finds its uses in baking more than anything. You can use it to make cookies, cakes, and other desserts and baked goodies. One dessert that you might recognize is tiramisu. Espresso powder lifts the chocolate notes in the recipes.

Other than desserts, espresso powder is also used in spice rubs. Spice rubs with espresso powder are great for marinating and flavoring meats that have to be grilled. You can also use espresso powder in recipes where you want to add coffee notes and a rich taste.

Espresso Powder On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Espresso powder is nothing but a variant of coffee. So, it almost has the same health benefits as your regular coffee. For starters, it is rich in antioxidants. Espresso powder has polyphenols that help in preventing many diseases. It also contains cafestol, which is anti-inflammatory.

The caffeine in the espresso powder provides an energy boost and helps improve your concentration and memory in a long shot. It is low in calories and is known to aid weight loss. Caffeine in the espresso powder is also known to be a mood enhancer. A little magic powder with so many benefits.

Why Do We Need A Espresso Powder Substitute?

The first reason we need to look for an espresso powder substitute is you might run out of it. In this scenario, it is better to know what things you can use instead. Many espresso powder substitutes will mostly be available in a regular pantry.

Another reason is that many people don’t like the sharp taste of espresso powder. So, they use alternatives that have a similar but mellow taste. People with caffeine intolerance also might want to shift towards a caffeine-free substitute.

Now that all that is out of the way, let’s see the best espresso powder substitutes you can use if you don’t have or don’t want to use espresso powder. Here we go!

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

10 Best Espresso Powder Substitutes

This is where all the build-up leads to. Below is the list of the best substitutes for espresso powder. Keep reading to find out all about them!

1. Instant Coffee

Instant coffee powder

Instant coffee is one of the best and mostly used espresso powder substitutes. It has a similar taste to espresso powder but is not as intense. This is because instant coffee is not as concentrated as espresso powder. Instant coffee also has a similar texture and consistency.

If you are using regular instant coffee, you should use a 2:1 substitution ratio. Make sure you don’t add a lot because instant coffee adds a bitter taste to the dishes. Also, if you are using dark roast instant coffee, you should use the 1:1 ratio.

2. Brewed Coffee

Brewed Coffee

As discussed, espresso powder finds its glory in desserts. If you make a batter that has a liquid or semi-fluid consistency, you can also use brewed coffee to impart that rich coffee and chocolate decadence instead of espresso powder. It might be hard to understand the ratio as the forms are different.

The brewed coffee that you’ll use here should be more concentrated and hence will be less drinkable. Add more coffee or less water than you normally would. Then, add this concentrated coffee to your dessert mix to recreate the rich taste of espresso powder. The thumb rule also applies here; don’t add too much, or it will make the dishes bitter.

3. Natural Cocoa Powder

Cocoa Powder

Talk about enhancing chocolate notes! If you aim to push the chocolate notes in your desserts, then the natural cocoa powder is a great espresso substitute for you. Natural cocoa powder has slightly bitter and acidic notes that resemble your sought-for coffee powder. Being the base flavor of chocolate, it has a strong chocolaty flavor.

Cocoa powder also adds a fruity and nutty flavor to the recipes that come from the cocoa beans, a flavor missing from the espresso powder. Talking about the substitution ratio, use it in a 1:1 ratio.

4. Brewed Espresso

Brewed Espresso

I have established that espresso powder and brewed espresso are different. So, it makes sense when I tell you that you can use brewed espresso in your recipes as a substitute for espresso powder. Brewed espresso is also concentrated coffee, and you need to use less of it as well.

Brewed espresso adds rich coffee notes to not only the desserts but also the signature caramel touch to it. It definitely serves the purpose of enhancing the chocolate decadence of the desserts as well as the baked goods. Also, if you are adding brewed espresso, decrease the liquid ingredients in the recipe accordingly.

5. Ground Espresso

Ground Espresso

Ground espresso is another worthy substitute for espresso powder. It is made from dark roasted espresso beans as well. The difference here is that ground espresso is coarser than powder. The ground espresso has bigger granules and is also stronger in taste.

To use ground espresso, you need to make a fine powder of it and then use it in a 1:1 ratio. After grinding, it almost becomes synonymous with espresso powder.

6. Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder

Dutch Processed Cocoa powder

If you are out of both espresso powder and natural cocoa powder, you can also use Dutch-processed cocoa powder. In case you were wondering whether the Dutch-processed is different from your natural coffee, it is.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder is alkalized and thus doesn’t have a bitter taste. When you substitute it, substitute them in a 2:1 ratio. It might not add a bitter taste to the desserts, but it still adds a rich taste to them. 

7. Carob Powder

carob powder

Carob powder is made by roasting and grounding the carob tree pods. The fine powder that results has a sweet and nutty taste. You can equate the taste to the chocolate. Carob powder is usually used as a natural sweetener in many cakes, cookies, and even drinks.

Carob powder lacks the signature bitter taste but does add a richly sweet and nutty flavor to your recipes, making it an okay-ish espresso powder substitute. Use it in a 1:1 ratio in your recipes, and enjoy!

8. Postum


Postum is for people who love coffee but have sworn off it. Postum is a beverage that tastes like coffee but is caffeine-free. This powder is made with roasted wheat grains and molasses. It tastes a bit like mild roasted coffee and molasses. It is often deemed as a healthy coffee substitute.

You make postum just like coffee. You can add hot water, sugar, cream, or milk to it and enjoy this piping hot and delicious beverage. Other ways to enjoy it include adding it to drinks like lattes, frappes, and milkshakes. You can use postum as an espresso powder substitute in recipes as it tastes a bit like coffee. Use postum in a 1:1 substitution ratio. 

9. Matcha Powder

Matcha Powder

Matcha powder is made by finely grinding grown and processed green tea leaves. It is a traditional Japanese drink but has taken over the world, thanks to its health benefits and giant coffee brands. It is different from your regular green tea and is a bit expensive.

Nevertheless, it is used to make many beverages like matcha lattes, smoothies, milkshakes, cakes, baked goods, and even cocktails. Matcha doesn’t resemble espresso powder’s taste profile. Matcha powder has a grassy yet nutty flavor with sweet and umami undertones. It does contain caffeine in small amounts but is extremely rich in antioxidants.

Matcha powder is a healthy alternative to espresso powder in your baked goods. You can use matcha powder as an espresso powder substitute in a 1:1 ratio. 

10. Chicory Coffee

Chicory Coffee

Another caffeine-free espresso powder substitute that comes to mind is chicory coffee or ground chicory root. Chicory coffee is made by roasting and finely grinding chicory root. It has a nutty and earthy flavor but also resembles the taste of coffee. You might’ve heard that chicory is often mixed with regular coffee.

Chicory coffee is often used as a coffee substitute; hence can also be used as an espresso powder substitute. You can also use it in beverages, cakes, baked goods, and other desserts. Use it in a 1:1 ratio just to get the taste right.

Short Recap For Best Espresso Powder Substitutes

Here is a short recap of the best espresso powder substitutes.

Best Espresso Powder Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor and Texture-

  1. Instant Coffee
  2. Natural Cocoa Powder

Best Caffeine-Free Espresso Powder Substitutes-

  1. Carob Powder
  2. Chicory Coffee

Best Espresso Powder Substitutes In Terms Of Health-

  1. Matcha Powder
  2. Postum

How To Use Espresso Substitutes In A Recipe

espresso powder

Espresso Powder Substitutes

Espresso powder is the secret to many of your rich chocolate desserts. It adds the perfect taste and color to the dishes. If you run out of espresso powder, you will have to make do with the alternatives you have.
5 from 2 votes


  • Instant Coffee
  • Brewed Coffee
  • Natural Cocoa Powder
  • Brewed Espresso
  • Ground Espresso
  • Dutch-Processes Cocoa Powder
  • Carob Powder
  • Postum
  • Match Powder
  • Chicory Coffee


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
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Final Word

So these are the best espresso powder substitutes that you can use in your cakes, desserts, and baked goods. Many of these are easily recognizable and found in your pantry. Not all will be able to exactly replicate the taste of espresso powder in your recipes, but it is still better than nothing at all.

Let me know in the comments if you agree with our list and your favorite substitute out of them all. This was all from me. I’ll see you next time. Until then, take care and happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Is espresso powder same as ground coffee?

No, espresso powder is finely ground dark roasted and concentrated coffee powder often used in desserts and baked goods.

Can you use espresso powder to make coffee beverages?

As espresso powder is more concentrated than regular coffee, it is not usually used to make beverages.

Is instant coffee an alternative to espresso powder in baking?

Yes, instant coffee is a good alternative to espresso powder and can be used in desserts an bakes goods instead of it.

What are the best espresso powder substitutes in chocolate cakes?

Instant coffee, natural cocoa powder, and Dutch-processed cocoa powder can replace espresso powder as an ingredient in chocolate cake.

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