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Coffee Cupcakes

Do you love coffee and dessert? Then you need to try these mouth watering Coffee Cupcakes! 

They’re bursting with rich coffee flavor, oh-so-tender and topped with a heavenly, creamy coffee buttercream frosting. One bite and you’ll be hooked!

Coffee Cupcakes on black wire rack with a bite taken out of one cupcake.
Love on the first bite!

Just like my Pistachio, Nutella, and Vanilla Muffins, these Coffee Cupcakes are the perfect little sweet treat! Whether it’s breakfast, brunch or an afternoon snack, these cupcakes are always so popular. 

The secret ingredient to my incredible Coffee Cupcakes is a little sour cream to keep them moist and delicious. The end result is perfectly tender cupcakes with a strong espresso flavor topped with a smooth coffee buttercream frosting.

Forget the cappuccino! These Coffee Cupcakes are my idea of an afternoon pick-me-up. The bitterness of coffee, with the sweetness of sugar, is a match made in heaven. All you need to do now is start baking!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Intense flavor – It is packed with rich, bold coffee flavor and is a guaranteed favorite for coffee lovers. The deep, complex taste of coffee is infused into the cupcake, making every bite a delicious experience.
  • Amazing texture – These cupcakes have a beautifully soft, moist and tender texture that compliments the creamy buttercream perfectly.
  • Simple ingredients – With just basic ingredients, you’ll achieve big espresso flavors. It’s likely that most of these ingredients will be in your pantry already.
  • Not complicated – This Coffee Cupcakes recipe is simple to make and easily achievable for beginner bakers. The steps are easy to follow and straightforward so that everyone can make a delicious batch of homemade cupcakes.

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.

Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe as in the recipe card.
  • Espresso powder – instant coffee powder or instant espresso powder for the perfect Coffee Cupcake. Some instant coffee is in granules.
  • Cake flour – has a lower gluten content and is essential to achieving a light sponge cake texture. 
  • Baking powder – be sure to use fresh baking powder. If you haven’t used it in over a year, buy a fresh container just to be sure. 
  • Baking soda – also known as bicarbonate of soda. Be careful not to mix it up with baking powder which is different.
  • Salt – a little salt brings out the espresso flavor in these Coffee Cupcakes
  • Granulated sugar – regular white sugar. If you have it use a more finely granulated sugar known as caster (castor) sugar or superfine sugar which will dissolve easily. I use this in my Vanilla Cake for an extra fine crumb.
  • Unsalted butter – if you only have salted butter, just omit the pinch of salt. 
  • Eggs – my preference is large, free range eggs. 
  • Sour cream – natural, full fat sour cream. Coffee Cupcakes are not a diet recipe so don’t use light sour cream. 
  • Sunflower oil – you could also use vegetable oil instead. 
  • Milk – I recommend whole milk for this recipe.
  • Coffee Buttercream – use my simple Coffee Buttercream frosting recipe. It’s easily made with good quality butter, powdered sugar and instant espresso powder. One batch will very generously frost these cupcakes. Any leftovers can be frozen.

See recipe card for quantities.

Instructions

Before you begin, prepare one batch of my decadent Coffee Buttercream.

Then, preheat the oven and line cupcake pan with liners. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Dissolve instant coffee powder in hot water.

Yellow buttery and creamy mixture in stainless steel bowl.

Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and well combined

An egg on off white creamy mixture in stainless steel bowl.

Slowly drizzle in the oil while the mixer is running. Add the eggs in one at a time until the mixture is thick and creamy

Brown creamy batter in stainless steel bowl.

Whisk together the milk, sour cream and dissolved espresso powder. Add alternatively with dry ingredients to butter mixture to make a batter.

Light brown batter in cupcake papers.

Scoop the batter into cupcake liners and bake for 15-17 minutes. 

When cooled, frost with coffee buttercream frosting. For a less intense coffee flavor, frost with my vanilla Italian meringue buttercream.

Hint: Allow the cupcakes to cool for just a minute or two in the cupcake pans and then carefully remove to a wire rack to completely cool. If the cupcakes remaining the hot pan they will continue to cook and may become dry.

Substitutions

  • Unsalted butter – you can use salted butter instead of unsalted. Just be sure to omit the pinch of salt. 
  • Sunflower oil – substitute vegetable oil or another neutral flavored oil. 
  • Sour cream – although I’ve never tried it, Greek yogurt is usually a good substitute for sour cream in cupcakes and cakes. 

Variations

  • Mocha cupcakes – remove 2 tablespoons of the measured flour and replace with the same amount of cocoa powder. Continue with the recipe as written. Make mocha buttercream frosting by adding 2 teaspoons of sieved cocoa powder to my recipe for coffee buttercream.
  • Cinnamon spiced – add a little powdered cinnamon to these Coffee Cupcakes for a warm spice kick. 
  • Coffee Cupcake Surprise – before frosting, use a teaspoon to core out the center of each cupcake then fill the hole with a spoonful of Nutella or a miniature chocolate peanut butter cup. Frost as in the recipe.
  • Caramel flavor – add a rich caramel flavor and extra moisture to these Coffee Cupcakes by substituting half the amount of granulated sugar with brown sugar. 
  • Extra coffee flavor – top these Coffee Cupcakes with chocolate covered espresso beans. 

Equipment

Use a stand mixer and the paddle attachment or electric hand mixer and a large bowl to prepare the batter. I find a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop makes filling the cupcake lines quick and easy.

You will need a 12 cup cupcake pan and cupcake papers for this Coffee Cupcakes recipe. 

Use a disposable piping bag and a Wilton 1M piping nozzle to create the same frosting swirl that you see in the photos. Alternatively, use a spoon to pile the frosting onto each cupcake.

Storage

These delicious Coffee Cupcakes will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I recommend allowing them to return to cool room temperature before serving.

Coffee Cupcakes can also be frozen. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for 1-2 months. When you’re ready to serve, take them out of the freezer and allow the cupcakes to defrost on the counter without removing them from the container. 

Top tip

Close up of brown cupcake topped with swirl of off white cream.

Completely dissolve the instant espresso powder in hot water before adding it to the milk mixture. 

Be sure to have all the ingredients at room temperature before beginning. Room temperature butter, eggs and other dairy when beaten create an emulsion and trap air. That air expands when exposed to the hot oven resulting in fluffy, light cupcakes and other baked goods.

Take care to just drizzle the oil into the creamed butter and sugar. Adding the oil too quickly will cause the mixture to separate losing any trapped air.

To keep the cupcakes light and not develop gluten, be gentle when mixing the flour into the butter. Beat only enough to thoroughly combine the dry ingredients and wet ingredients into a batter. Excessive beating after the flour has been added creates tough cakes and cupcakes.

Cut about 1inch (2 ½ cm) off the end of a disposable piping bag and insert a Wilton 1M decorating tip. Fold down the top edges of the bag then use a large spoon to fill with buttercream frosting. Don’t overfill the bag. It’s easier to pipe with the bag only half full. 

To frost the cupcakes, hold the piping tip at right angles to the cupcake and begin piping around the edge working your way to the middle pulling up to a point. Apply steady pressure to the bag to push out enough buttercream so that you can pipe evenly. This may take some practice. You can practice on an upturned cup or mug.

FAQ

What is the standard cupcake size?

I’ve used the standard cupcake size pan for this Coffee Cupcakes recipe is 2 inch (5 cm) by 1¼ inch (3 cm)  is the standard.

What is the secret to good cupcakes?

The secret to these delicious Coffee Cupcakes is the addition of oil and sour cream. While butter is ideal for trapping air during the creaming step. Oil as well as butter is used in this recipe. The sour cream keeps the cupcakes moist while making them perfectly light and airy. 

Why do cupcakes crack on top?

Small cracks (like in my Coffee Cupcakes photos) are not the end of the world. Especially since they will be covered with icing. If they crack more than that, I would recommend that you check if the oven is too hot or if you’re using an incorrect amount of rising agent.

Espresso cupcakes topped with coffee buttercream on a blackwire rack.

Looking for other coffee flavored recipes like this? You might like my Coffee Cookies or Espresso Brownies. My family always love when I make these Tiramisu Cups or my classic Italian Tiramisu for dessert.

Made this recipe?
Let me know if you liked it by leaving a ★★★★★ star rating and a review below. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter – it’s free!

Coffee Cupcakes on black wire rack with a bite taken out of one cupcake.

Coffee Cupcake Recipe

These Coffee Cupcakes are bursting with rich coffee flavor, oh-so-tender and topped with a heavenly, creamy coffee buttercream frosting.
5 from 37 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 16 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Cooling Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 13 minutes
Servings:12 cupcakes
Author: Marcellina

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 ¾ cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • cup full-fat sour cream
  • ¼ cup sunflower oil or any light flavored oil
  • cup whole milk room temperature

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a 12 cup cupcake or muffin pan with paper liners.
  • In a small bowl, dissolve the espresso powder with 1 tablespoon of hot water. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk or sieve together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. You don’t want clumps particularly check this when measuring the baking powder and baking soda.
  • Using a stand mixer and the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy and well combined.
  • With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the oil. After adding all the oil, beat for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. At this stage most of the sugar should be dissolved and the mixture should be thick, creamy and homogenous.
  • Whisk the milk and sour cream into the espresso powder mixture until combined.
  • With the stand mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture followed by half of the milk/espresso mixture. Mix until only just combined.
  • Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  • Stop and scrape the side of the bowl then beat on medium speed for 30 seconds to thoroughly combine.
  • Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 15-17 minutes or until the cupcakes have risen and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool for a minute or two then transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.
  • When completely cooled, frost with coffee buttercream frosting. I used the Wilton 1M decorating tip.

Notes

Top Tips
  • Completely dissolve the instant espresso powder in hot water.
  • Have all ingredients at room temperature.
  • Drizzle the oil in slowly so that it combines thoroughly.
  • Be gentle when adding the flour to the butter mixture. Excessive beating will cause tough cupcakes.
For more tips and FAQ’s, read the post above.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 468kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 91mg | Potassium: 156mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 682IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

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4 Comments

    1. Cake flour makes for very tender cupcakes which is why I use it in this recipe and others. Cake flour isn’t simply a US ingredient or brand. It’s a type of flour that is made with softer wheat and has less protein or gluten than regular plain all purpose flour. You’ll find cake flour next to the plain all purpose flour in the supermarket. You see it labelled “biscuit, pastry and cake flour”.

  1. 5 stars
    rating based on your name alone, Marcellina, BEST recipes on the computer. love, lyn (not a relative, just a big fan with an Italian palate)