Are you the type of coffee lover who has sampled every kind of bean, tried every roast, and perfected every brewing process?
As diverse as coffee beans, climates, roast levels, and beverages may be, there usually comes a time when true coffee fanatics start wondering:
What else can I do with these delicious beans?
Good news, coffee lovers: there’s an easy way to add that rich coffee flavor into all sorts of meals (and no, we’re not just talking about desserts).
With a few drops of coffee extract, you can infuse the flavor of coffee into just about any meal. And as long as you have some coffee beans in your pantry, you can even make it at home.
If you’re ready to experiment with coffee while you’re cooking, here’s how to make coffee extract for flavoring.
What is Coffee Extract?
Coffee extract is a concentrated liquid used in all sorts of recipes, drinks, and foods. It has an intense, natural flavor of coffee, making it a favorite amongst home cooks and chefs who love the powerful taste of coffee.
Coffee extract is two simple ingredients:
- Coffee beans
- Alcohol or an alcohol substitute (such as food-safe glycerin)
Pure coffee extract is hard to find on store shelves. Don't expect to see it in the grocery store baking aisle beside the vanilla and almond extract!
Rather than trying to hunt it down in a local store, it’s much easier to order some online or, even better, make it yourself at home.
Making coffee extract at home requires some patience, as you have to let it sit for at least a week before it’s ready to use. In Britain and some European countries, coffee extract sells under the name coffee essence. It’s essentially the same thing, though you can make a less intense “essence” that you can use right away.
But here’s the best news:
Once you've made a batch of coffee extract, you can seal it in a jar and store it in your pantry for months at a time. It's a shelf-stable product that lasts. Even if you don't use it right away, it will be there whenever you're in the mood to add some serious coffee flavor to your next meal or dessert.
Did you know you can eat coffee beans? Check out: 5 Delicious Ways to Eat Coffee [Bonus Chocolate Espresso Beans Recipe].
What is Coffee Extract Used For?
You won’t see too many recipes that call specifically for coffee extract, but it’s a great substitute in any recipe that calls for espresso powder. It can also be used as a substitute for pure vanilla extract in baked goods.
The next time you follow a recipe that requires a teaspoon of dry espresso powder, try using a teaspoon of coffee extract instead!
Because a cup of coffee pairs so well with pastries and desserts, our minds automatically think of baked goods when talking about coffee extract. From tiramisu to espresso brownies, a little bit of coffee extract can make any traditional coffee-flavored dessert taste even more incredible.
Can’t eat breakfast without having a cup of coffee in hand?
You can add coffee extract to all sorts of breakfast dishes, including pancakes, crepes, and French toast. You can even stir some in the next time you make chocolate chip muffins or chocolate croissants.
Any chocolate recipe (be it cake, truffles, ice cream, or cookies) can benefit from a bit of coffee extract. But you can use it for so much more than that.
Coffee extract can also add serious flavor to savory dishes. It’s a great addition to all sorts of soups, stews, and sauces. It can even be used to make gravy or a marinade.
And, since coffee is such an incredible beverage, it only makes sense that coffee extract can enhance the flavor of a variety of different drinks. Add a splash to a chocolate milkshake to give it a more intense mocha taste, or use it to punch up the flavor of an espresso martini. It’s also quite delicious in an Irish coffee.
How to Make Coffee Extract at Home
The main ingredient in coffee extract is (you guessed it!) coffee beans.
Whether you’re planning on drinking or cooking with coffee, the most crucial step is selecting fresh, whole coffee beans. You can use any roast level you prefer; as long as your beans are fresh, you’ll be able to extract the best coffee flavor possible.
You can choose to make a coffee extract with or without alcohol. Here are some easy recipes that explain how to make a yummy coffee extract step by step.
How to Make Coffee Extract With Alcohol
Start by lightly crushing 1/4 cup of your favorite whole beans with a rolling pin or a mortar and pestle.
Once you've broken them up, put them in a clean glass jar that you can seal tightly with an airtight lid. A mason jar works great. If you don't have one, you can also use a glass bottle that seals tightly with a cork.
You don’t want ground coffee — you want coffee bean chunks. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can pulse them slightly in a chopper, just don’t overdo it.
Next, pull your favorite bottle of vodka out of your liquor cabinet and pour approximately one cup over the crushed beans. Swirl them around, so the beans get saturated in the alcohol.
Put a tight lid on the jar and place it in a dark, cool spot at room temperature, such as the back of a pantry shelf. You’ll need to leave it there for about one week, taking time once a day to shake the jar and swirl the mixture so that the beans continue to mix with the vodka. As they mix, the clear vodka will start to turn a rich, dark shade of brown.
In about one week, your extract will be ready! Strain the mixture to remove the beans and dust, and it'll leave you with a delicious coffee extract! Just be sure to keep it stored in a cool, dry place, never out on a counter or anywhere that it may encounter heat or sunlight.
Some online coffee extract recipes recommend that you let the mixture sit for as long as one month. The ratios between coffee beans to vodka also vary (slightly). Some people recommend one part beans to three parts vodka, while others suggest using one part beans to four parts vodka.
Not trying to drive yourself crazy with math?
1/4 cup of beans with one cup of vodka will yield good results.
Not a fan of vodka?
Even if you don’t like to drink vodka, you will want to use it for your extract.
You can use other liquors, such as bourbon and gin, to make extracts, but they have much more flavor than the mild taste of vodka.
The whole point of coffee extract is to enjoy that powerful coffee flavor, and of all the liquors out there, vodka tends to be the most flavorless. Just be sure to choose a brand that makes pure distilled vodka, not one that tastes like whipped cream or birthday cake. (You know who we’re talking about).
How to Make Coffee Extract Without Alcohol
Don’t want to make your coffee extract using alcohol?
Don’t worry — there’s a way to make it without any booze at all.
You can easily substitute the amount of alcohol required with one part water and three parts food-grade liquid glycerin.
Liquid glycerin may sound scary, like something you’d pour into test tubes in a chemistry lab, but food-safe versions are safe to eat.
Just keep in mind, if you’re on a gluten-free diet, food-safe liquid glycerin is often made with animal fats. Pure distilled vodka, on the other hand, is gluten-free.
How to Make Coffee Essence
Don’t have the patience to make coffee extract?
Try making a quick (albeit slightly less flavorful) coffee essence instead.
The trick to making coffee essence is to brew a strong and bitter cup of coffee, then:
- Pour your freshly brewed coffee into a pot on the stove set to medium heat
- Whisk in 3/4 of a cup of granulated sugar
- Keep whisking until you've completely dissolved the sugar
- Once the sugar dissolves, bring your brew to a slow boil and let it continue to boil for about five to seven minutes. (It’s ready once it starts to thicken and reduce.)
- Take your coffee essence off the heat and let it cool down.
As soon as it’s cool, you can start adding it to recipes.
Is Coffee Extract the Same as Coffee Fruit Extract?
Some people confuse coffee extract with coffee fruit extract. They are not interchangeable. In fact, they are two completely different things.
Coffee fruit extract, also referred to as green coffee extract, is a supplement from the coffee fruit, not the coffee bean. It’s readily available online as well as in health food and vitamin stores.
Coffee fruit extract uses the whole coffee fruit, including the coffee cherry that surrounds the coffee beans. The entire fruit makes coffee fruit extract a powerful supplement that provides all sorts of health benefits.
Coffee fruit extract can actually help you remember things better. It enables the neurons in your brain to make better connections in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that stores memory.
Increased Ability to Learn
With better memory often comes the ability to learn things more easily.
Coffee fruit extract is a nootropic supplement that can help you learn better and faster. It encourages the pathways of the brain to respond better to new information and new experiences. Also, it slows down the aging process of the brain.
Add coffee fruit extract to your vitamin and supplement routine, and you’re likely to see your mood improve. This supplement helps to decrease depression and reduce stress to help you feel calm.
The coffee fruit contains an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid. It calms you down, soothes anxiety, and makes it easier to handle situations that cause you to feel fear and stress.
Chlorogenic acid has an added benefit:
Anti-inflammatory properties. It can help to protect cells throughout the body, particularly from damage caused by free radicals.
Coffee extract that you add to food and beverages is always in liquid form, just like vanilla extract. The coffee fruit extract supplement comes in various forms, including powders and capsules.
Like all supplements, consult with your physician first. Especially if you’re taking other supplements or prescription medications.
Related: Is Coffee a Vegetable?
Homemade coffee extract is delicious, and it’s a fun DIY project that only takes a few minutes to make.
The hardest part of the process?
Remembering to shake it every day and having the patience to let it turn from vodka-soaked beans into an actual extract.
Make a batch right now, and in about a week, you’ll have a yummy coffee elixir that you can add to all sorts of beverages, sweet treats, and savory dishes. As long as you store it in an airtight bottle or jar, it will keep in your pantry for months.