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Coffee Buttercream

This coffee buttercream frosting tastes just like your favorite cup of coffee and is the perfect way to step up your frosting game.

This recipe uses my American buttercream recipe as a base and adds a generous amount of instant coffee to give this frosting an incredible flavor.

image of a cupcake being frosted with coffee buttercream frosting

How to Make Coffee Buttercream

To make sure this coffee frosting turns out as amazing as possible, let’s walk through each step together.

I’ve also included a video tutorial of the process below.

Step 1: Beat the Butter

Beat the unsalted butter on a medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes with a paddle attachment until smooth and lighter in color.

Step 2: Mix in All the Good Stuff

In a small container mix together 3 Tbsp of heavy cream and 3 Tbsp of instant espresso or instant coffee until combined.

image of instant espresso that's been mixed with heavy cream to make espresso buttercream

Add the espresso mixture, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp of salt into the butter. Mix on a low speed until combined.

Slowly mix in the powdered sugar on a low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as need with a rubber spatula.

Step 3: Make Your Frosting Extra Smooth

Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. 

This buttercream will crust if it’s left sitting out, so I recommend covering it with plastic wrap or immediately placing it in a piping bag.

Substitutions & Swaps: Coffee Buttercream

Some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this frosting recipe include:

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for.
  • Instant Coffee or Espresso – You can use either 1/4 cup of cooled, strongly brewed coffee or 2 shots of chilled espresso in place of the heavy cream and instant espresso if needed. However, this will give the frosting a slightly looser consistency.
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) can also be used to make the frosting. However, I would recommend using less (2 Tbsp) as it has a tendency to thin out the frosting a lot more than cream.
image of instant espresso on a counter

How Much Frosting Does this Recipe Make?

This recipe makes about 6 cups of frosting. If needed, this recipe can be halved, doubled, or tripled.

A double batch will fit and can be made in a 5 qt Kitchen Aid Mixing bowl.

I usually make 1 batch of frosting to stack and frost a seven- or eight-inch layer cake.

If I’m frosting a dozen cupcakes with big swirls, I make a half batch of this frosting recipe.

What Can I Frost with this Coffee Buttercream Frosting?

The sky’s the limit when it comes to using this frosting. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, macarons, you name it!!

I’ve used it to frost my chocolate layer cakes, chocolate cupcakes, coffee macarons, and even my buttercream cookies!  

image of a chocolate cupcake frosted with coffee buttercream

Coffee Frosting Troubleshooting

While this recipe is pretty straight forward, sometimes people do run into issues making it.

One of the hardest parts is getting the consistency of your buttercream just right.

There are few different factors that influence the consistency of your frosting.

It’s a delicate balance between the temperature of your kitchen, the brand of butter you use, the temperature of your butter, and the amount of heavy cream you use.

The easiest way to see if your frosting is the right consistency is the spatula test! I check the consistency of every batch of frosting I make using this test.

It confirms that your frosting is stiff enough to hold its shape, but spreadable enough for you to easily frost your cake or pipe onto cupcakes. 

To test your frosting, firmly press a rubber spatula into your frosting and pull directly up. Turn the spatula right side up and look at the frosting on the tip.

The frosting should form a somewhat soft peak that has a little curl on the end. It’s stiff enough to hold up that curl, but soft enough to create that little curl.

image of buttercream frosting being tested for the right consistency

That little curl is a great visual cue to know that your frosting is just the right consistency.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of this test with this buttercream, but hopefully the picture above using my vanilla buttercream helps you visualize what we’re looking for.

If the frosting is too stiff and sticks straight up, I suggest adding in more heavy cream (1 Tbsp at a time). If it’s too thin and doesn’t form a little peak at all, try adding a bit more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time).

You can also chill it in the fridge in 10-minute intervals if you think your butter was too warm.

After each adjustment, be sure to retest the frosting with your spatula before making any additional changes.

Paddle Attachment vs. Whisk Attachment

Now that we’ve covered troubleshooting, the last thing to discuss is our equipment. You can make this frosting with a paddle or whisk attachment and a stand mixer or a hand mixer.

I like to use my paddle attachment when making frosting for a cake, to minimize the amount of air that is incorporated into the frosting. This makes silky smooth frosting, which is easier to smooth onto cakes.

I use my whisk attachment when making frosting for cupcakes, which I like to be light and fluffy! I like to incorporate air into frosting for cupcakes, because I usually pipe massive swirls onto each cupcake.

These are just my personal preferences though, and you can use whatever attachment or mixer you have. They’ll all get the job done!

image of a chocolate cupcake that's been cut open and is frosted with espresso buttercream frosting

Tips for Making the Best Coffee Buttercream

  • Make sure your butter is at room temperature before making this frosting.
  • If your powdered sugar contains cornstarch (most brands in the US do) there’s no need to sift you powdered sugar.
  • Use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream rather than normal milk. The higher fat percentage helps give this frosting the perfect consistency.
  • If you are making frosting for a cake, mix the buttercream on the lowest speed at the end of the process for a couple minutes. This helps remove any extra air that might have been incorporated during the mixing process.

Does Coffee Buttercream Need to be Refrigerated?

Below are some tips for storing this coffee frosting in case you make it in advance or have leftovers:

  • Make this frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
  • This frosting can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months! Just be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to make it nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for a month. The buttercream locks in the moisture and keeps the cake fresh and delicious!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 6 cups

Coffee Buttercream

image of a cupcake being frosted with coffee buttercream frosting

This coffee buttercream recipe is sweet, decadent, and packed with coffee flavor. It comes together in less than five minutes and is so easy to make!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes

Ingredients

Coffee Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (452g)
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream or whipping cream (45ml)
  • 3 Tbsp instant espresso or coffee (15g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4ml)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 7 1/2 cups powdered sugar (904g or a 2 lb. bag)

Instructions

Coffee Buttercream

  1. Beat the unsalted butter on a medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes with a paddle attachment until smooth and lighter in color.
  2. In a small container mix together 3 Tbsp of heavy cream and 3 Tbsp of instant espresso or instant coffee until combined.
  3. Add the espresso mixture, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp of salt into the butter. Mix on a low speed until combined.
  4. Slowly mix in 7 cups of powdered sugar on a low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as need with a rubber spatula.
  5. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.
  6. If the frosting is too thick, add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. If it's too thin, add in another 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. To know if your frosting is the right consistency, check out my post on buttercream consistency.
  7. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula to get the frosting SUPER smooth. Then either cover with plastic wrap to prevent crusting, or place in a piping bag.
  8. Use this buttercream to frost your favorite cakes, cupcakes, or cookies.

Notes

Yield

This recipe makes about 6 cups of frosting. If needed, this recipe can be halved, doubled or tripled. A double batch will fit/can be made in a 5 qt Kitchen Aid Mixing bowl.

I usually make 1 batch of frosting to stack and frost a seven- or eight-inch layer cake, and a half batch to frost a dozen cupcakes with large swirls.

Tips for Making the Best Coffee Buttercream

  • Make sure your butter is at room temperature before making your frosting.
  • If your powdered sugar contains cornstarch (most brands in the US do) there's no need to sift you powdered sugar.
  • Use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream and not normal milk! You need the higher fat percentage for the frosting to have the right consistency.
  • If you are making frosting for a cake, mix the buttercream on the lowest speed at the end of the process for a couple minutes to get out any extra air that might have been incorporated during the mixing process.

Making This Coffee Buttercream in Advance and Storage Tips

Make this frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

This frosting can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months! Just be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to make it nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for a month. The buttercream locks in the moisture and keeps the cake fresh and delicious!

Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 1123Total Fat 66gSaturated Fat 41gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 21gCholesterol 177mgSodium 210mgCarbohydrates 138gFiber 0gSugar 135gProtein 1g

Eve A.

Saturday 1st of July 2023

Made this exactly as described and it was a hit! Delicious and not hard to make. Thanks!

Chelsweets

Monday 3rd of July 2023

Yay!! So happy to hear that Eve, thank you for sharing :)

Laura

Wednesday 15th of June 2022

Hi, I love coffee but hate instant coffee. Do you have recipe with aero press. coffee? If not can you tell me how to substitute the espresso n mix with real coffee? And please don’t say just get fancy instant coffee, it ticks me off! Ps I LOVE your baking xxx do you know how to make flay sided cakes btw and how much icing I’ll need to ice a 4 layer 8” cake? Laura xx

Chelsweets

Sunday 19th of June 2022

Hi Laura,

I'm laughing reading this comment! You can use either 1/4 cup of cooled, strongly brewed coffee or 2 shots of chilled espresso in place of the heavy cream and instant espresso if needed. However, this will give the frosting a slightly looser consistency.

I would make 1.5 batches of this buttercream for a 4 layer, 8-inch cake. I think that should be the right amount to fill, crumb coat, and frost the cake, plus pipe big swirls on top. Happy baking!

Kristen Rosler

Tuesday 24th of May 2022

I made this and it is !scrumptious! I added just a tiny bit of cocoa powder. Thank you so much!

Chelsweets

Sunday 29th of May 2022

So happy to hear that Kristen!! :) Happy baking!!

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