Is There Such a Thing as Coffee Extract?

QUESTION: Is there such a thing as coffee extract? I’ve heard of other extracts and wonder whether coffee can be used the same way. — Tiffany M.

ANSWER: In short, yes—there is such a thing as coffee extract. This article will tell you everything you need to know about coffee extract, from what it is to how to use it, what to substitute for it, and even how to make your own.

What Is Coffee Extract?

Coffee extract is not the same as coffee concentrate, like what you’d use to make cold brew. Concentrates are made of coffee and water, while extracts use alcohol as a solvent with the coffee. Coffee extract is made up of coffee beans and alcohol. The result is a concentrated way to impart coffee flavor into items like baked goods, cocktails, or ice cream. Coffee extract is shelf stable, so just store it in the cupboard like you would vanilla extract.

You may run into green coffee extract if you are shopping for coffee extract. Green coffee extract is made from alcohol and green coffee, which has health benefits and also doesn’t come along with the bitterness of roasted coffee. 

How Do I Use Coffee Extract?

  • Make a beverage similar to cafe au lait by steaming some milk, adding the coffee extract, and also including some sugar to sweeten it if desired.
  • Add coffee extract to buttercream frosting to pair with chocolate cake.
  • The coffee extract makes a great partner for anything chocolate, from cake to brownies.
  • Use coffee extract to flavor ice cream and gelato.
  • Swirl coffee extract into a milkshake or malt.
  • Add coffee extract to vanilla cheesecake to make a coffee cheesecake.
  • Soak ladyfingers in coffee extract before using in tiramisu.
  • Include coffee extract in cocktails such as martinis, black Russians, and Manhattans.
  • Coffee extract makes a welcome addition to savory dishes as well, working in a rub for meat or flavoring a mole sauce. You can also use it in chili, barbecue sauce, or meatballs.

What Can I Substitute for Coffee Extract?

There are two main ways to make a coffee extract substitute. Choose the one that is most convenient for you.

  • Add two tablespoons of instant espresso grounds to one tablespoon of boiling water.
  • Brew a cup of coffee, and add it to a pot on medium high. Stir in 12 tablespoons of sugar, and mix into the coffee until completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer until it is reduced and thickened. Remove from heat and let cool before using.

How Do I Make Coffee Extract?

  • Begin with a quarter cup of your favorite whole coffee beans. Crush them with a rolling pin or in a mortar and pestle. You just need to break the beans into chunks. They don’t need to be ground as finely as they would for coffee.
  • Add the crushed coffee beans to a glass jar that has an airtight seal (like a Mason jar). Glass bottles that seal with a cork can also be used here.
  • Pour one cup of vodka over the crushed beans in the glass jar. Stir to bring all the beans into contact with the alcohol.
  • Seal the jar tightly, and find a spot for it to sit that is dark and cool, like in the back of a cupboard or pantry. Let the beans soak in the alcohol for about a week. You’ll notice that the vodka begins to turn brown. 
  • After about a week, strain the extract to remove the coffee solids. Keep the remaining extract stored in a cool, dry place where it won’t come into contact with sunlight. 

Now you know all about coffee extract, from exactly what it is to how to make your own. Making your own coffee extract is easy and rewarding, and now you know just how many ways you can use it. There’s no reason you shouldn’t keep a jar around, with all its potential uses.

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