How to Make Espresso with Instant Coffee

I have tested different cups of coffee drinks but I must admit that a hot espresso shot in a cold morning is perhaps the sweetest and boldest coffee drink there is. However, the question on how to make espresso shot with instant coffee at a time of the day when you do not have a French press or the shops haven’t opened seems a hard nut to crack.

That is when you try something ingenious – making an espresso using what is within your reach – instant coffee. This is what I want to show you today – how to make a strong espresso drink when you have only instant coffee at your disposal.

Key takeaways

It is possible to make espresso using instant coffee

The taste will not be as bold as that of the espresso shot made using espresso beans and espresso machine

Italian businessman Luigi Bezzera accidentally invented espresso when he was testing fast brewing in his kitchen in Venice, Italy

For best results, you need to brew your espresso shot at a temperature of 190oF

Before I take you through how to make espresso with instant coffee, I think it is wise to look at each of these two coffee drinks separately, starting with instant coffee.

What is Instant Coffee?

Teaspoon of instant coffee

Instant coffee is brewed coffee that has specially packed into small sachets that are easy to use. As the name suggests, you can pour a sachet into hot water, add sugar, and milk (optional) and it is ready for drinking.

To extend shelf life, instant coffee is dried and dehydrated before it is packaged. Although brands differ, the amount of caffeine in instant coffee is usually weaker compared to that of espresso.

Some of the popular instant coffee brands you may want to try include:

  • Nescafe Azera – well-grounded coffee with a smooth and aromatic flavor
  • Nescafe Clasico – rich and bold taste
  • Waka Coffee – it is smooth and citrusy thanks to 100% Arabica coffee
  • Mount Hagen – smooth and rich thanks to 100% organic coffee
  • Nescafe Taster’s Choice – well-balanced and smooth blend
  • Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee – balanced instant coffee with nutty flavor
  • Starbucks via Ready Brew Decaf – very roasty and sweet
  • Douwe Egberts Pure Gold – medium and well balanced
  • Jacobs Kronung – very rich and tasty
  • Folgers – classic yet full
  • Alpine Start Instant Coffee – medium roast with full flavor

Of course, the list of instant coffee brands is endless but you need to look for the type of coffee used to make it, the ground and the flavor.

What is Espresso

Espresso shot

Espresso or es-PRESS-oh is a concentrated, full-flavored coffee drink usually served in shots. Traditionally, you make an espresso by passing pressurized hot water forcefully through finely ground coffee with an espresso machine. But you can also make iced coffee with a small amount of espresso.

To make it stronger, you top it with crema, usually a brown foam, which gives the drink a bold, strong, and a lingering aftertaste. When the crema mixes with hot water, the result is air bubbles that give the drink a splendid look and unique flavor.

Interestingly, you can use any type of coffee irrespective of the origin as long as it is duly roasted.

While some people do not do more than a shot, a majority go for a double shot. You can add sugar, honey or any other sweetener to an espresso shot. Serving espresso shot with biscotti, a form of very sweet biscuits is another good way of drinking espresso shot.

The Difference Between Espresso and Instant Coffee

The main difference between espresso and instance coffee is the size of the grind. Espresso is dark roasted, ground, brewed, dried, before it is then ground into extremely fine grind, while instant coffee is ground coffee that has been dehydrated.

Because of the way it is prepared, espresso turns out to be bolder, stronger, and more flavorful than instant coffee.

Best Instant Espresso Coffee

Some of the best instant espresso coffee drinks you can try include:

  • Café La Rica Gourmet – known for its strong dark flavor
  • King Arthur Flour Espresso Powder – balanced flavor (ideal for baking)
  • Illy Classico (my favorite) – filled with caramel and chocolate flavors (100% Arabica)
  • Anthony’s Organic Espresso Powder– organic and gluten free with chocolate notes
  • Lavazza Caffe (one of the best you should try) – fragrant and tasty
  • DeLallo Instant Espresso Powder – dark roast with a robust flavor
  • Civilized Coffee Grande Espresso Powder – dark and rich flavor allergen-free and non-GMO

How to Make Espresso with Instant Coffee

Now this is the long-awaited part – the section that helps you to learn tips on how to prepare a flavorful cup of espresso shot using a sachet of instant coffee at home.

NB. Even without an espresso machine or expensive coffee, you can satisfy your strong caffeine craving using instant coffee that is within your reach.

Now, let’s look at how you can prepare a tasty espresso shot using instant coffee at home.

What You’ll Need

  • A sachet of your preferred instant coffee
  • Hot water
  • Milk, sugar, or honey (these are optional for taste)


  • Pour the contents of instant coffee into a cup
  • Add a little amount of boiling water to the instant coffee (the water should be hot to bring out the boldness of the shot)
  • Pour the rest of the boiling water and stir the mixture until everything is dissolved
  • If you desire, you can now add your sugar, honey, milk, or any other sweetener before the water is cold
  • Now sip your shot – mmmmmmh, yummy

Pro Tips of Making a Bold Espresso Shot

Ready Espresso dripping into a mug

Technically, you cannot make the real espresso shot using instant coffee only. To achieve the best espresso shot with all the flavor and boldness that comes with it, you need an espresso machine and the right ingredients.

Nonetheless, here are some of the pro tips to make an even better espresso shot:

Go For Quality Instant Coffee

Quality instant coffee doesn’t come cheap. When looking for instant coffee that can help you make espresso at home, go for the one that has an extremely fine grind, rich in flavor, aroma, and intense dark roast.

Use Decafe Instant Coffee

Decaf coffee is ideal for those that want to cut on their caffeine intake. Decafe instant coffee is designed to help you quench the espresso craving but without much caffeine.

If Possible, Use a French Press

A French press is more authentic in making espresso than just relying on instant coffee alone. If possible, invest in a French press.

To Wrap Up

One thing that has stood out from the word go is, it is possible to make espresso using instant coffee. To do that, you need to go for quality instant coffee and follow the easy steps above and learn how you can prepare a cup of espresso at home using instant coffee at home.

Sugar, honey or any other sweeteners are optional but they are good in neutralizing any strong flavor the instant coffee might have.

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