espresso with instant coffee

Can You Make Espresso With Instant Coffee?

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Sometimes, a small cup of espresso in the morning is just what you need to get going, and you might not be able to start your day without it!

When that craving for an espresso hits, you might not be able to pop out to the closest cafe, or have espresso beans at home, so what should you do?

If you are really wanting a shot of espresso, but don’t have the means to actually make one or get your hands on one, then you could try to use instant coffee.

Can you make espresso with instant coffee? You can make espresso with instant coffee, but just know that it won’t taste as bold and fresh as a real shot of espresso made with proper beans and a machine would.

To make espresso using instant coffee, you simply need some instant coffee, some boiling water, and extra sweetener such as sugar or honey depending on your preference.

Keep reading to find out how to make espresso with instant coffee!

Espresso and Instant Coffee

If you have had both espresso and instant coffee before, you would know that there is a substantial difference between the two, and you should be able to tell them apart by smell or taste alone.

Espresso is a strong, concentrated drink made from dark roasted coffee beans.

These coffee beans are dark and strong and are ground down into a fine powder which is brewed through high pressure with hot water to make the small shot of espresso.

Being brewed at high pressure and with hot water means that the small amount of water can take as much flavor and boldness from the beans as possible, concentrating it down to a small amount.

This also extracts the oils from the beans and forms a beautiful crema on the top of the espresso.

espresso with instant coffee

Espresso can be enjoyed on its own as a small shot, or it can be added to milk or other similar ingredients to make different drinks.

You can certainly purchase espresso machines to use at home, but these can be expensive and the machines are not always so quick and simple to use.

Instant coffee, on the other hand, comes in various styles, whether you want it to be strong or mild, and the caffeine content between different brands does vary.

Instant coffee is dehydrated, and once added to hot water or milk, the coffee is ready to drink.

Instant coffee is much weaker than espresso, but there are some stronger blends that come close.

The Differences Between Espresso and Instant Coffee

You can use instant coffee to make espresso, but it is important to understand the differences between the two to know why you will certainly not get the same results!

Espresso is made from dark and strong coffee beans, which is where the flavor and crema come from, and this is something you just cannot replace.

However, instant coffee can give you that coffee flavor and caffeine, and come slightly close.

Here are the main differences between espresso and instant coffee:

  • The biggest difference between the two is the taste that either produces. Espresso has an intense, dark, and strong flavor, whereas instant coffee is lighter and does not taste as fresh or intense.
  • How you make espresso and instant coffee is very different. Espresso is made with an espresso machine, with high-pressure hot water pushed through finely ground beans to create a short shot. Instant coffee can just be mixed with boiling water and some milk if preferred.
  • Espresso can be found in different varieties, such as latte, americano, and cappuccino, whereas instant coffee is really just the same thing but with different intensities.

Can You Make Espresso With Instant Coffee?

The short answer is yes, you can make something similar to espresso with instant coffee, but if you wanted to be more technical about it, then the answer should actually be no.

Espresso is a specialty coffee drink, and it is made using specific beans and a specific method. To have a true cup of espresso, dark and strong beans would need to be freshly ground down and placed into an espresso machine.

This espresso machine will then push hot water through the ground beans at high pressure, extracting the flavor and oil from the beans, to create a short shot of very concentrated coffee.

Only through this method, and with the right beans, can you call a drink an espresso.

However, if you are not too fussy about being technical and following the rules, then you can make something very similar to an espresso at home using instant coffee.

When making espresso using instant coffee at home, just keep in mind that it will most likely lack that crema on top, it will not be as intense and robust.

Using some strong instant coffee and the right amount of water, you can create a small shot of very strong coffee that should help soothe your espresso cravings for a short time.

Making an espresso using instant coffee will be a quicker process than using an espresso machine too, so if it turns out to be something you enjoy, then it might become your new favorite drink at home!

How to Make an Espresso With Instant Coffee

If you have decided that you want to try and make an espresso using instant coffee, then there are some steps you can follow to help you make as close to the real thing as you can without using the right beans or an espresso machine.


Just keep in mind that the type of instant coffee you are using will affect how the espresso will taste, as weaker instant coffees won’t have such an intense flavor, and stronger ones will.


  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 1oz. boiling water
  • Optional milk or sweetener


  1. Add 2 teaspoons of instant coffee into a cup.
  2. Pour in half of the 1oz of boiling water to allow the coffee to bloom.
  3. After 30 seconds, add in the rest of the water and stir well until the coffee has dissolved.
  4. You can add in another 1oz of boiling water if you want to enjoy a double shot of espresso.
  5. Once you have stirred the coffee well and it has all dissolved, you can add in some sugar, milk, or honey if desired.
  6. Sip and enjoy!

The beauty of using instant coffee to make a shot of espresso at home is that you can choose an instant coffee that you love most and you can choose how much water you want to add to your espresso, whether a single or double shot.

You can then also add in any optional extras such as milk or dairy substitute, sugar, honey, or sweetener.

You can play around with the espresso you make with instant coffee until you find a combination that works best for you, especially when you cannot get your hands on the real thing!

Tips for Making Espresso With Instant Coffee

Because you cannot technically make an espresso using instant coffee, there are no hard and fast rules on how you should make it, and you can change up the method, quantities, and ingredients to suit what you want best.

Here are some tips on how to make a great cup of espresso at home using instant coffee!

Use Quality Instant Coffee

There definitely is a difference between cheap instant coffee and quality instant coffee, and you will also be able to taste the difference, maybe even more so, when using instant coffee to make espresso.

The instant coffee will be more concentrated when used to make an espresso, so you will get a better taste for it. A better quality, stronger instant coffee will taste far better when made into an espresso than a cheaper option.

There are some high-quality mild instant coffees available, which can taste just as good, but without being as strong as some of the other options.

Use Decaf Instant Coffee

If you are sensitive to caffeine or are trying to cut down on your caffeine intake, you could always use decaf instant coffee to make espresso at home. This will give you the taste that you were after, but without the caffeine!

Use a French Press

You might want to make espresso, but don’t have an espresso machine, but you also might want something a little more authentic than just instant coffee! To solve this, you could try and use a French press to make an espresso.

Make sure to use freshly ground strong beans, and add a small amount of water to the French press. Follow the usual instructions to brew the coffee, and then pour a small amount into an espresso cup and enjoy!

Can You Add Milk to an Espresso?

There is nobody stopping you from adding milk to your instant coffee espresso at home, after all, it is your creation and you should enjoy it how you want!

However, it should be noted that once you add some milk to espresso, it technically isn’t an espresso anymore.

If you are wanting something creamy and milkier, and possibly sweeter than an espresso, then why not make a latte?

A latte can be made at home using instant coffee too. You can follow the same steps on making espresso with instant coffee, and then warm up some milk to add to the espresso.

Froth up some milk to top it off with, and sweeten it with some sugar or honey!

What Beans Are Best for Espresso?

There technically aren’t specific espresso beans, but there are definitely beans that work better for making espresso than others.

Lighter coffee beans are better suited for slower extraction methods, such as for making filter coffee.

Lightly roasted beans don’t have much of an oily sheen and are a fairly mild flavor. Medium roasted beans give a bit of a stronger brew and have a medium-brown color.

coffee beans

There are then dark roasted beans, which have a dark brown color, with an oily, shiny surface.

These darker roasted beans with an oily sheen will make the best espresso. They offer a lower amount of acidity and a fuller body, and will create an espresso shot with body and flavor.

With darker espresso beans, as they have an oily sheen, they produce a rich crema, which just adds to the deliciousness of an espresso.

These beans hold up well against the high-pressure method used to create a small espresso shot, and really are the best option.

Can You Substitute Espresso Powder for Instant Coffee?

You can substitute espresso powder for instant coffee, but you need to keep in mind that espresso powder is stronger than instant coffee, and will give whatever you are making a stronger flavor.

However, the difference won’t be too overwhelming, and it can add a great knock of flavor to the food or drink you are making.

It also works the other way around, by substituting instant coffee with espresso powder if you ever need to, but you might want to add in a little more instant coffee powder to match the strength that the espresso powder would have had.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over how to make espresso with instant coffee, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

Is Instant Coffee as Strong as Espresso?

Espresso contains quite a bit more caffeine than instant coffee, especially as it is a smaller shot than what instant coffee usually is.

Espresso can contain anywhere between 58-185mg of caffeine, whereas instant coffee can contain 40-108mg of caffeine.

However, the caffeine content in instant coffee can vary depending on the brand and the strength of the coffee.

Is Espresso Powder Ground Coffee Beans?

Espresso powder is not just finely ground dark roasted coffee beans; it is usually coffee crystals that have been ground fine and dehydrated to easily dissolve in water.

Espresso powder is usually stronger than normal instant coffee and usually contains quite a bold flavor.

Can You Make Espresso With Normal Coffee Beans?

You can make espresso with any type of coffee beans, but true espresso is made with dark roasted, bold beans.

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espresso with instant coffee

Espresso With Instant Coffee


  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 1oz. boiling water
  • Optional milk or sweetener


    1. Add 2 teaspoons of instant coffee into a cup.
    2. Pour in half of the 1oz of boiling water to allow the coffee to bloom.
    3. After 30 seconds, add in the rest of the water and stir well until the coffee has dissolved.
    4. You can add in another 1oz of boiling water if you want to enjoy a double shot of espresso.
    5. Once you have stirred the coffee well and it has all dissolved, you can add in some sugar, milk, or honey if desired.
    6. Sip and enjoy!

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