Café Mocha Cupcakes

If you love cupcakes, you’ve come to the right place because I am all about cupcakes right now. They’re adorable, portable and delicious, so what’s not to love, right?

Are you a coffee lover too? I sure hope so, because today’s recipe is full of coffee flavor and the perfect cure for that midday slump. I’m a café mocha enthusiast, so I wanted to try to encompass the intense flavor of one of my favorite Starbucks beverages into cupcake form.

I started with a rich, coffee infused chocolate cake and topped that off with a velvety, sweet espresso infused buttercream. As though they weren’t decadent enough, I had to finish them off with a chocolate drizzle and a chocolate covered coffee bean. Take these into the office or your next meeting and you’ll have a happy staff that are guaranteed to be alert!

Café Mocha Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes


For the Cupcakes

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso granules

For the frosting

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
pinch of fine grain sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water
3-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk


For the Cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.

3. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Add the 1 ½ teaspoons of espresso granules to the cup of hot coffee and stir to combine. With mixer still on low, add in the coffee/espresso mixture and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

4. Using a large scoop (about 3 tablespoons), distribute the batter into the prepared muffin tins.

5. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then remove them onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

For the frosting

1. In a large bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar/cocoa powder mixture, and continue creaming until well blended.

3. Add salt, vanilla, 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk and espresso/water. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

For the garnish

Place 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the chips on 50% power in 30 seconds increments until chocolate is melted. Drizzle over cupcakes and finish with a chocolate covered coffee bean.


- You can easily adjust the consistency of this recipe by simply adding in more heavy cream or milk.
- Cake adapted from Ina Garten

92 Responses to “Café Mocha Cupcakes”

  1. Erica — July 29, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Love this recipe – have made it several times. It is so moist and delish, and it is also amazing with cream cheese frosting! Tried it in a bundt pan, too. Gets raves every time! Thanks!


  2. Anna — September 21, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Just made these last night and while I was worried because the batter was really runny they turned out perfectly! Very sweet and sticky. Going to frost them with a Caramel Swiss butter cream (going for the caramel espresso coffee theme) — thanks for the inspiration!


    • JennyMC — March 8, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      Me, too! I had a little panic attack when my batter was watery–I thought I had missed or mixed up a step!

  3. Boo — October 16, 2011 at 6:59 am


    I made these cupcakes today and have to say they didnt come out very well! The mixture itself was very runny…maybe the recipe is wrong??? This made the cupcakes way too soft with a very unusual texture and they stuck to the cupcake casings! Any advice???


    • Jamie — October 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      I just double checked the recipe and it is definitely correct. The recipe is from Ina Garten – Beatty’s Cake. I adapted it slightly from Food Network. The batter is definitely thin, but bakes up for me well every time. Sorry I am not more of a help.

    • Caecilia — August 14, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      I like to bake cupcakes and the runny mixture actually didn’t surprise me..but after baked, my cupcakes turned out same like Boo’s cupcakes…lots of it just stick to the bottom of the paper …

    • Jamie — August 15, 2014 at 8:40 am

      I’m sorry that you had difficulty with the recipe. Thanks for stopping by.


  4. Daniela — November 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    These cupcakes look gorgeous! :) is it possible to replace the vegetable oil for melted butter instead?


  5. Nic — February 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Made these for my coffee loving mom as an early Valentine’s Day present and they were phenomenal!!! This was the best dessert that I have ever made, thanks for the recipe! I did add some extra espresso to the buttercream for more coffee flavor, and the texture of the cupcake is perfect, nice and light and airy!

    YUM! I love your website, so glad I found it!


  6. lisa — February 15, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Uhm Yum!!!! Thanks for sharing


  7. Lori — April 30, 2012 at 1:04 am

    The cake was sooooooo moist. I love it, and I think it is going to be my go to chocolate cake recipe!!!! Yummy!!


  8. Ursula — June 28, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    This recipe looks amazing, I just don’t know what espresso granules are or what a good substitute for them might be? Have any suggestions?


    • Jamie — June 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      Instant espresso granules are usually found in the coffee aisle of grocery stores. If you can’t find them, ask the store manager and they should be able to direct you to them or order them for you. Hope this helps.

  9. These look absolutely amazing. I am a HUGE fan of using black coffee in my chocolate baked goods–I mean, what’s better than coffee and chocolate? It brings out the chocolate tones and has that extra something. Yum! It seems like there would be a lot of frosting? Did you end up having leftovers, and does it freeze well? Thanks!


    • Jamie — July 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      I have never tried to freeze the icing, we like a lot of frosting around here, so we pile it on! Have a great day.

  10. Sharon — July 20, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Ohh boy I so want to make these now!! They look delicious!! Can someone explain to me about the 1cup brewed coffee. Do i make it strong or to my tasting? And for the espresso can I use cafe bustelo? And if I use all-purpose flour will it destroy the moistness of this awesome cupcake? Thanks!


    • Isabelle D. — October 15, 2012 at 10:50 am

      I used expresso coffee, i figured that since the recipe ask you too put some more “instant coffee” in your freshly breew coffee that means that u need a strong flavored coffee.

      Same thing with the icing, i switch some milk for some freshly brewed expresso.

  11. Aya B. — October 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Amazing photos (pro.) Amazing food and bakes
    love all your posts (that I have seen so far)
    keep up the awesomeness


  12. Isabelle D. — October 15, 2012 at 10:49 am

    They we’re DELICIOUS.

    I switched the oil for 3/4 cup of finely grated sweet potatoes (reduced a bit my guilty…lol), they were really amazing.

    The icing was delicious too but maybe a bit too sweet, do you have any idea what i can do to put less sugar in the icing?

    Thx again for the delicious recipe ! we’ll try some more in our next “cupcake frenzy” night


    • Jamie — October 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe – thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback! As far as the icing goes, simply leave out a bit of the sugar and taste as you go. Have a great day.

  13. Shehnaaz — June 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I’ve been a fan for ages but I finally tried this recipe for my S I L’s birthday. Absolutely delicious and they were still moist with an even more intense flavor 3 days later (I had stashed away a couple for later). I too was concerned about the runny batter but they baked up beautifully.


    • Jamie — August 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      That’s great to hear! Thank you so much for coming back to let us know about your experience with the cupcake recipe. Have a great day and thank you for following MBA!


  14. mrs. frey — August 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    These are phenomenal!!! I thought it might just be a lot of hype because they look and sound soooo good, but they taste even better!!! They are absolutely heavenly! I only wish something that tastes this good would be healthy too! :)


    • Jamie — August 19, 2013 at 10:23 am

      Mrs. Frey,

      I’m thrilled that you love the cupcakes! Thank you so much for reporting back to let us know! Have a fantastic day!


  15. Sharon — December 10, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Has anyone tried this recipe in a 9×13 pan or a bundt pan?


  16. Manon — January 16, 2014 at 1:12 am

    What is 2 pound equvilent to in CUPS?? They look awesome but I need to make the frosting still


    • Jamie — January 17, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      Per Google, it’s about 8 cups. I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Hajira — July 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I made them into mini cupakes ~they came lovely


  18. Adrienne — August 12, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    How am I just now seeing these??? Can’t wait to try them! (And they were posted on my birthday a few years ago…cool!)


  19. Judith Paterson — August 18, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I Love Your Recipes But I’m Getting Awfully Tired Of Having To Sift Through The Adds To Get To Them..


    • Jamie — August 19, 2014 at 11:28 am

      I’m sorry that you don’t enjoy the ads but they are a part of what makes this site possible.


  20. Cheshta — October 13, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    what is the quantity of water and coffee in 1 cup of brewed coffee ? and i have instant coffee powder so will that be fine ?


    • Jamie — October 14, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      Instant coffee will work just fine, you can add a couple of tablespoons of coffee to about 6 to 8 oz of water. I hope this helps.


  21. Jolene — October 16, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Recipe was a total flop for me, Hopefully works better for others


  22. Clémence — December 16, 2015 at 5:25 am

    These cupcakes look really delicious! I would like to try with a similar cream cheese frosting. Anyone knows how to do it?
    Thank you!


  23. Margaret Murray — September 13, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! These are so yummy!! Love cake that uses oil. Everyone LOVES them and I make them without an dairy bc Im dairy sensitive/intolerant. I use earth balance for the frosting and because of this have to put them in frig or the frosting will be soft but they are scrumptious!! No one believes they are dairy free!


    • Jamie — September 17, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      I’m so glad you liked them, Margaret!

  24. Jamie — January 5, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Thank you! You made my day!



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