Espresso Powder: The Baker’s Coffee

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Espresso powder is the instant form of espresso, a dark and concentrated type of coffee first made in Italy at the start of the 20th century. The word espresso comes from the Italian for pressed out, which has to do with the process for making the coffee. The coffee is pressed from finely ground beans using steam and water. Luigi Bezzera invented the first espresso machine in 1901.

Espresso powder is made with a similar process to that used for making instant coffee. Instant coffee goes back to the 18th century when the first instant coffee was said to have been made in Britain; however, there is not much information on how the British version was made. In 1890, a New Zealander named David Strange invented another version of instant coffee that was produced using the hot air spray drying method. With this method, concentrated liquid coffee is sprayed into very hot air and the water evaporates from the concentrate leaving fine crystals.

Another option is to make instant coffee by freeze-drying, which is a method used to make some types of espresso powder as well. To make freeze-dried instant coffee, a concentrated coffee extract is frozen then broken down into granules. The coffee ice granules are then dried in a vacuum until what’s left behind are coffee granules.

Nestle came up with its method for producing instant coffee in 1930 and named it Nescafe. Nestle also invented the freeze-drying method. They introduced it in 1965 with their Nescafe Gold instant coffee.

The objective is the same with both espresso powder and instant coffee — to produce a water-soluble powder that can be made into a coffee beverage simply by adding water.

Espresso powder

Espresso powder flavor profile

Espresso powder is usually made with higher quality beans than those used to make instant coffee. The result is a strong coffee flavor that also manages to be smooth. When used in baked goods — especially those containing chocolate — espresso powder helps to create a deeper, darker flavor.

Health benefits of espresso powder

Espresso powder can improve health because it contains:

  • Antioxidants: Coffee is full of antioxidants and espresso powder is too. It may have more of them than regular coffee because of the process used to make it.
  • Caffeine: Over the years, caffeine has gotten a bad reputation but it actually does have some benefits including increased metabolism and better cognitive abilities. Espresso powder is a good source of it.

Espresso powder’s benefits include its ability to treat and prevent health issues like the following:

  • Diabetes: Espresso powder is made with coffee that studies show may help to lessen the risk of diabetes.
  • Cognitive decline: Coffee contains compounds that help to lower the risk of dementia.

Common uses

The most popular application for it is baking. It provides a richer flavor than instant coffee, especially when combined with chocolate. Espresso powder is a great addition to chocolate cakes, chocolate filling, and brownies. Espresso also enhances the chocolate flavor in hot cocoa and other chocolate drinks. Try it in smoothies and chocolate milkshakes. Of course, you can use it to make a fast and easy cup of espresso as well.

Espresso powder is popular among some cooks as a savory seasoning. It is sometimes used to enhance the depth of stews, chilis and other braised dishes. It is enjoyable in dry rubs and can be used in a steak rub to intensify the caramelized flavor and color.


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