How to Make Espresso with Instant Coffee?

Updated on:

For espresso enthusiasts, the rich aroma and the robust flavor of that perfect shot are nothing short of an art form. But what if you could achieve this indulgence without the elaborate setup and the premium price tag typically associated with espresso? Enter instant coffee — a surprisingly versatile ingredient that can transform your humble kitchen into a bustling café that never sleeps.

This comprehensive guide is devised for coffee lovers who want to savor the depth of a well-brewed espresso without investing in an espresso machine or spending significant time mastering the craft. Whether you’re a busy professional in dire need of a morning jolt, a penny-pincher looking to save on expensive café visits, or a home barista keen on expanding your brewing repertoire, this post is your ticket to an instant coffee espresso revolution.

Steam rising from a white cup of hot coffee with a spoon on a saucer over a wooden table in the cafe. Close-up of a refreshing hot cup of a coffee at a cafe.

Understanding Instant Coffee – Quality, Types, and Selection

Before we plunge into the steamy intricacies of making a faux espresso, it’s pivotal to grasp the foundation — the instant coffee itself.

Quality Matters

Quality instant coffee is the bedrock of a good espresso. Opt for brands that use high-quality beans and a superior freeze-drying or spray-drying process. These methods help retain the flavor compounds and oils that contribute to a full-bodied taste, crucial for mimicking an espresso’s characteristics.

Types of Instant Coffee

There are two primary types of instant coffee:

Soluble Powder

Often labeled as “instant coffee granules,” this type dissolves quickly in hot water, making it an accessible choice for beginners.

Microground Coffee

With a finer consistency than granules, microground coffee closely resembles the texture of espresso grounds, offering a better shot at mimicking the drink’s body and crema.

Easy Espresso at home

20 Bar Espresso Maker with Milk Frother Steam Wand


The Right Pick for Espresso

To ensure you’re selecting the best instant coffee for your homemade espresso, look for these attributes:

  • Dark Roast: It’s essential for the deep flavor and low acidity that an espresso demands.
  • Fine Texture: If you’re using microgrounds, a powder-like texture is ideal for espresso consistency.
  • Known Brand: Familiar brands often mean higher quality and better taste.

Creating the Perfect Espresso Shot with Instant Coffee at Home

Despite not using a professional espresso machine or a barista’s skills, the method we’re about to explore can deliver a remarkably close flavor profile to a traditional espresso.

Step 1: The Ingredients and Tools

Gather your weapons for this culinary quest:

  • Instant Coffee: Chosen with care based on the above guidelines.
  • Filtered Water: Pure, without any off-putting flavors that could tarnish your shot.
  • A Heat Source: This could be a stovetop, a microwave, or even hot water from a kettle.
  • A Spoon: To measure out your instant coffee — typically, one to two teaspoons per shot.
  • A Heatproof Cup: To brew your espresso in.

Step 2: Preparing the Instant Coffee

This step is critical in ensuring a balanced and delicious shot.

  • Proportion: The golden ratio for espresso is 1:2, coffee to water. Adjust to taste, but start here.
  • Temperature: Use water just off the boil, around 195-205°F, to extract the flavors effectively.
  • Stir, Don’t Agitate: Mix gently to avoid introducing air and creating bubbles.

Step 3: The Pour

In a steady stream, pour your brewed instant coffee into a pre-warmed cup. A warmed cup helps maintain the shot’s temperature and ensures the flavor nuances are preserved.

Step 4: The Wait

This is the most difficult step for any espresso enthusiast who adores watching the golden crema develop. With instant coffee, the crema won’t be as pronounced, but you can still achieve a bit of frothiness at the top with the right process.

Espresso Instant Coffee Recipe

Here’s how to make Espresso with Instant coffee at home without the need for expensive equipment or long preparation times.

  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Servings: 1
  • Calories: 3 kcal


  • Instant coffee
  • Hot water
  • Sugar or Milk (Optional)


  • 2 – 4 tbsp Instant Coffee
  • 1 or 2 oz Hot water
  • Milk (As per taste)
  • Sugar or Sweetener (As per taste)


  1. Add two tablespoons of instant coffee for a solo Espresso shot or 4 tablespoons for a doppio shot to a cup.
  2. Instant Coffee and Water: Boil the water and add 1 oz for a solo shot or 2 oz for a double shot into the cup. Tip: For a smoother texture, mix instant coffee with cold water before adding hot water. This will help to prevent the burnt flavors from coffee and give it a more mellow flavor.
  3. Stir the mixture for 20-30 seconds, and your Espresso instant coffee is ready.
  4. Enjoy the Espresso as it is, or add more water or milk to prepare Americano or Latte.

Tips to Enhance Your Instant Coffee Espresso Experience

Elevate your instant coffee espresso with these simple but effective strategies.

Frothing Milk

For a cappuccino or latte, you’ll need frothed milk. A French press works well as an impromptu milk frother. Simply heat the milk, pour it into the French press, and pump the plunger vigorously for a few seconds until it’s frothy.

Adding Flavors

Explore your pantry for extracts like vanilla, almond, or hazelnut. These can be incorporated directly into the instant coffee before adding water for a flavored espresso that caters to your taste preferences.

Investing in a Mini Frother

If you find yourself enjoying these instant coffee espressos frequently, consider investing in a handheld milk frother for convenience and consistent results.

Making instant coffee that rivals the taste of espresso from fresh beans may sound like a tall order, but with a few adjustments, the gap in flavor can be significantly narrowed. Here are some expert tips to elevate your instant coffee experience:

Experiment with the Coffee-Water Ratio

Adjust the ratio of coffee to water based on your taste preference. If you prefer a stronger, more espresso-like flavor, increase the amount of instant coffee without altering the water quantity. This experimentation can lead you to discover the perfect balance that suits your taste.

Upgrade Your Water Quality

The quality of water used plays a crucial role in the final taste of your coffee. Using filtered or bottled water instead of tap water can make a noticeable difference. Minerals in hard water can interfere with the flavor of the coffee, making it taste off.

Preheat Your Cup

Just as with traditional espresso, preheating your cup can help maintain the temperature of your instant coffee, making it taste better. Simply fill your cup with hot water, wait a minute, then empty it before pouring your coffee.

Add a Pinch of Salt

A little-known trick among coffee aficionados is adding a pinch of salt to your instant coffee. This can help reduce the bitterness often associated with instant coffee and enhance its overall flavor profile.

Use Fresh, Cold Milk

If you like your coffee with milk, always use fresh, cold milk. Heating milk changes its taste and texture, making it sweeter and creating a smoother experience that complements the robust flavor of espresso.

Store Your Instant Coffee Properly

Proper storage of your instant coffee can also impact its taste. Keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Exposure to air, light, or moisture can degrade the quality of instant coffee over time.

By incorporating these tips, you might find that your next cup of instant coffee pleasantly surprises you, coming closer to that espresso experience than you thought possible. Whether you’re traveling, camping, or just in a rush at home, there’s no need to compromise on taste.

espresso machine pouring coffee into cups

Comparing Instant Coffee Espresso to Traditional Espresso

It’s time for the ultimate test — how does your instant coffee espresso fare against its traditionally made counterpart?

Taste Test

While there might be nuances that experienced palates can discern, on the whole, a well-prepared instant coffee espresso can offer a remarkably similar experience in terms of depth and richness.

Convenience Factor

This is where instant coffee truly shines. Traditional espresso brewing is a ritual that demands time and precision. An instant coffee espresso, on the other hand, can be prepared in a mere fraction of that time, without compromising on the basic characteristics of the drink.

Cost Comparison

The price of a cup of instant coffee espresso is significantly lower than that of a café-bought equivalent. By switching to instant coffee, you’re not just saving time, you’re also saving money.


Espresso and instant coffee cater to different tastes and preferences within the coffee-drinking community, highlighting a variety of distinctions in brewing techniques, flavor profiles, and accessibility.

  1. Brewing Method

  The essence of espresso lies in its brewing process, where pressurized hot water is forced through finely ground coffee, extracting a concentrated, flavorful shot. This method, exclusive to espresso, imbues the drink with a fresh, intense flavor profile that instant coffee, simply rehydrated from powder or granules, can’t match. Authentic espresso requires specific equipment, often at a high cost, whereas instant coffee offers convenience, needing only hot water or milk for preparation.

  1. Concentration And Quality

  Espresso boasts a high concentration, characterized by a rich and bold flavor with notes of caramel, chocolate, and a subtly bitter aftertaste. On the other hand, instant coffee, lacking the fresh brew’s depth and complexity, delivers a flavor that many find duller and more bitter. This significant difference in taste is a deal-breaker for many coffee enthusiasts who value the nuanced profile of freshly brewed beverages.

  1. Caffeine And Calories

  When comparing the caffeine content, both drinks hover around the same range; an 8 oz serving of instant coffee contains about 60-80 mg of caffeine, similar to a single shot of espresso. However, it’s worth noting that the calories in both espresso and instant coffee are minimal, especially when consumed without added milk or sugar, appealing to those looking for a low-calorie option.

By understanding these differences, coffee lovers can better appreciate the unique qualities of espresso and instant coffee, making more informed choices based on their individual preferences for taste, convenience, and cost.

FAQs about Making Espresso with Instant Coffee

You’ve brewed your first instant espresso, but questions might still be percolating. Here are some common queries answered.

How can I ensure my instant espresso is as strong as a traditional espresso?

The strength of an espresso comes down to the coffee-to-water ratio and the fineness of the grind. Make sure you’re using a higher amount of coffee relative to water and select a fine instant coffee.

Can I make a larger volume of coffee that resembles an Americano?

For an Americano made with instant coffee, simply dilute your espresso with approximately the same amount of hot water, as you would with a traditional Americano.

How long can I store instant coffee for espresso making?

Storing instant coffee in an airtight container at room temperature will keep it fresh for several months. Be sure to check for any changes in flavor over time.


You’ve just unlocked the secret to enjoying an espresso-inspired experience from the comfort of your home, office, or wherever your adventures take you. Instant coffee might not be the traditional choice for espresso purists, but its versatility and ease of use make it a compelling option for those who value taste, time, and thrift.

The key takeaway here is the empowerment of personal experimentation and customization. Making espresso with instant coffee opens up doors to a world of innovation, where you can tweak and refine to your heart’s content, always striving for that perfect cup. Savor the process, delight in the outcome, and share your discoveries with fellow enthusiasts.

We hope this guide has infused confidence in your DIY espresso-making abilities. Now grab your instant coffee, raise your cup, and toast to the convenience of home-brewed instant enlightenment.