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How to Make an Espresso Shot with Instant Coffee

Learn how to make an espresso shot with instant coffee with this simple, foolproof tutorial! Get the rich flavor of espresso without running out to the coffee shop!

A shot of espresso made with instant coffee in a stoneware mug with a mini whisk and pitcher in the background.

Are you a bigtime coffee lover, but you don’t want to purchase an expensive espresso machine and coffee grinder in order to enjoy a latte at home?

Or are you looking for a way to easily enjoy espresso strength coffee while traveling?

Either way, this Instant Coffee Espresso tutorial is for you!

You’re going to learn how to easily achieve the bold flavor of espresso with just two simple ingredients and a few minutes of your time. 

Okay, let’s dive in!

Disclaimer: Instant coffee cannot be made into *true* espresso.

This is because espresso in NOT just a certain type of coffee bean. The brewing methods of instant coffee and espresso are also vastly different.

A traditional espresso shot is made by using high pressure to force hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. It results in a very concentrated, strong tasting coffee.

Since making instant coffee doesn’t utilize this method, it cannot be considered authentic espresso. HOWEVER, you can make concentrated instant coffee that will taste similar to true espresso.

It will still have that instant coffee taste, so keep that in mind. 

Video Tutorial:

 

Here’s a video tutorial in case you learn better that way. The written tutorial and printable recipe card are below!

Ingredients:

All of the ingredients needed to make a shot of espresso with instant coffee.

You’ll only need 2 simple ingredients to make espresso with instant coffee:

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons instant coffee granules: I’ll discuss brands of instant coffee below. How much instant coffee you use is up to you! For a more mellow taste, go for 2 teaspoons of instant coffee. If you want a more punchy coffee flavor, you can increase the amount to 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon).
  • 2 tablespoons hot water: The water doesn’t have to be boiling. In fact, some brands of instant coffee boast that it will dissolve in cold water! But I think you’ll find that the instant coffee dissolves better if the water temperature is at least warm.

Instant Coffee Brands:

Three different brands of instant coffee on a white countertop.

There are many different brands of regular instant coffee on the market these days. I recommend purchasing a high-quality instant coffee since the flavor will be concentrated. Here are the ones I recommend:

  • Thrive Market organic instant coffee is the most affordable of the three. Like all three brands, it’s organic and fair trade certified. It’s made with 100% Arabica beans. They also make a decaf instant coffee.
  • Mount Hagen instant coffee is more expensive than the Thrive brand, but the packaging is a little more recyclable. It also comes in either regular or decaf.
  • Sun Alchemy instant coffee powder has the added benefit of mushroom extract. It’s also the most expensive of these three brands. The coffee is in a fine powder form vs granules like the other two. I use one packet to make 1 shot of espresso. Each packet contains 110 mg of caffeine. 

To read more about these instant coffee brands and learn where to purchase, make sure to check out my Coffee Products page.

I have also tried Four Sigmatic instant coffee. It’s a nice instant coffee, but it isn’t certified fair trade, so I no longer purchase it.

There are a few brands of instant espresso powder on the market as well, but I haven’t been able to find one that’s fair trade. The instant coffee brands listed above are not made with espresso beans.

How to Make an Espresso Shot with Instant Coffee:

Pouring hot water over instant coffee in a mini glass pitcher.

Okay, let’s go over the super simple steps.

Place the instant coffee crystals or powder in a heatproof container. You can either put it directly into the mug you plan to use, or in a separate pitcher, shot glass, or small cup.

Whisking instant coffee with hot water to make a shot of espresso.

Stir with a spoon or whisk until the coffee completely dissolves in the water.

It’s really that easy to make a single shot of espresso with instant coffee!

How to Make 2 Shots of Espresso with Instant Coffee:

Here is the ratio that I like to use to make 2 shots of espresso with instant coffee:

  • 5 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1/4 cup or 2 ounces of water

As described above, simply stir or whisk together the coffee and water until completely dissolved. 

Again, you can adjust the coffee-to-water ratio to your personal preferences. 2 tablespoons of instant coffee will result in a more intense flavor, of course. 

From here you can use your shot of espresso however you want!

But I’ll include instructions for how to make it into a latte below:

How to Make a Latte with Instant Coffee:

Adding vanilla syrup to instant coffee espresso in a 12 ounce stoneware mug.

Place the instant coffee espresso in a 12 ounce mug. 

Add a sweetener of choice if desired. This could be vanilla syrup, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, etc. 

Heating milk over the stove to froth for a latte.

Heat 10 ounces of milk to 155 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

I do this over the stove in a small saucepan. A laser thermometer is really handy here. 

Frothing milk with a French press to pour over instant coffee espresso.

You can froth the hot milk using a French press…

Frothing milk with a stick frother.

…or a handheld stick frother.

Please note that the stick frother can make the hot milk expand quickly, so make sure your pan is tall enough to contain any possible spillover! 

A latte made with an instant coffee espresso shot in a stoneware mug with latte art.

Pour the frothed milk over the espresso in your mug, and you have a delicious latte!

For more in-depth instructions, make sure to check out my Starbucks Latte recipe!

Can I use instant coffee in my espresso machine?

No, please do not put instant coffee in your espresso machine. It will not produce the desired results. Instead, use finely ground espresso beans in your  espresso machine.

Is espresso just strong coffee?

Short answer? Nope! Espresso is made using special dark roasted coffee beans and a special brewing method. So while espresso is strong coffee, not all strong coffee is espresso. You can make strong coffee in a regular coffee machine, but it will never be the same as true espresso.

Is espresso just finely ground coffee?

While espresso is made with finely ground coffee, it’s also made with beans that are roasted to a certain darkness level. Technically you could brew any finely ground coffee beans using the same brewing process as espresso, but the final result will taste a bit different. 

How many ounces is a shot of espresso?

One shot of espresso is around 1 ounce. This could vary based on the espresso machine, the preference of the barista, etc. 

A photo collage of different coffee recipes.

More Coffee Recipes:

Recipe Card:

Yield: 1 shot of espresso

How to Make an Espresso Shot with Instant Coffee

A shot of espresso made with instant coffee in a stoneware mug with a mini whisk and pitcher in the background.

Learn how to easily make a shot of espresso with just instant coffee and water!

Prep Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons hot water

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the instant coffee and hot water until the coffee is completely dissolved.

Notes

To make two shots of instant coffee "espresso" just double the recipe! I like 5 teaspoons of instant coffee to 1/4 cup hot water for a double shot.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 7Carbohydrates: 2g

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