This moist chocolate coffee cake is the perfect dessert for any chocolate lover! Easy to make with simple ingredients, this coffee-infused chocolate cake with coffee buttercream is guaranteed a crowd-pleasing dessert for any occasion.
This is a rich chocolate espresso cake with espresso buttercream and chocolate coffee syrup drizzled on each layer and on top. This is a delicious variation of my most popular chocolate raspberry cake!
why you'll love this chocolate coffee cake
- Packed with coffee flavor: This recipe uses hot coffee, espresso powder, and chocolate syrup for the best overall flavor.
- Delicious chocolate cake: After hours of testing this recipe, I can say with certainty it is the best chocolate cake ever. It is perfectly dense yet fluffy, with a super moist and tender (not crumbly!) texture and rich chocolate flavor. It's so good I used it to make my mint chip ice cream cake and ganache cake!
- Perfect for any occasion: Chocolate coffee cake is perfect for birthdays, holidays like Christmas, and beyond!
ingredient notes & substitutions
Find the full ingredient measurements and instructions in the recipe card below!
Cocoa powder: I prefer Dutch-processed cocoa powder for the richest chocolate flavor.
Coffee: The recipe needs both brewed coffee and espresso powder for different reasons. Brewed coffee enhances the richness of chocolate, while espresso powder gives the cake a coffee/mocha flavor. You can omit the espresso, but the cake itself will not taste like coffee.
Sour cream: This ingredient provides moisture and richness to prevent a dry texture. Full-fat plain Greek yogurt is a great alternative!
Oil: Flavorless oils like canola or vegetable oil are best, while coconut or olive oil should be avoided as they have a stronger flavor.
Milk: Whole milk provides moisture and structure so that the cake isn't dry or crumbly. I don't recommend plant-based milk since it has lower protein and fat content, leading to a drier texture.
Mix the dry ingredients. In a stand mixing bowl, combine cake flour, granulated & dark brown sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and espresso powder on low speed.
Mix in the butter. Cube the room-temperature butter and add it to the bowl. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes until it resembles coarse sand.
Mix in half of the wet ingredients. Add in the sour cream and canola oil. Mix on low speed for exactly one minute. It will be a very thick paste, which is normal!
Mix in the rest of the wet ingredients. With the mixer running on low, stream the whisked eggs, milk, and vanilla into the batter. Then immediately stream in the hot coffee and cocoa powder.
Scrape the bowl with a spatula to ensure no pale batter streaks remain.
Bake! Pour the chocolate cake batter into the prepared baking pans.
Bake in the preheated oven for 33-36 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
Cool the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes, run an offset spatula around the sides to release, then flip out and continue cooling completely.
Make the coffee chocolate buttercream. In a stand mixing bowl, cream the unsalted butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder.
Add the heavy cream, brewed coffee, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix until just combined, then set it aside until needed.
Assemble! Slice the dome off both layers, then slice them in half. You can also leave them as is for a two-layer cake!
Drizzle each layer with the chocolate syrup, then spread the coffee buttercream over the top. Continue these same steps for all of the cake layers.
Decorate. The last layer should be placed upside down so the top is flat.
Use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer of the frosting on the sides and top of the cake.
Drizzle more coffee syrup on top and garnish with chocolate truffles, shaved chocolate, or anything else your heart desires.
expert baking tips
- Use a kitchen scale. Baking with a scale is much more accurate than cup measurements. To convert this recipe, click the "metric" button next to the ingredients title on the recipe card. If you do not have a scale, use a spoon to fluff the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup.
- Use room temperature ingredients: Using room temperature ingredients creates a smooth, fully blended batter that will result in a uniform texture and even baking.
- Don't overbake! When a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, pull them out. I recommend testing both layers individually because they may finish baking at different times!
- Use HOT coffee. This is key to a super moist chocolate cake! Wait until just before mixing to brew it, or reheat it in the microwave.
storage & freezing
As a whole: Loosely cover or place the assembled cake in a carrier with a lid. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. To keep it fresh longer, you can store it in the freezer for up to one month!
As slices: This is my favorite way to store leftovers! Cut the chilled cake into individual slices and wrap them in plastic wrap. Keep them in the freezer for one month or fridge for 5 days.
As layers: This is helpful for making it ahead of time! Once the layers are completely cool, double-wrap them in plastic wrap and keep them in the freezer for up to one month. Let them come to room temperature on the counter when you are ready to assemble!
Coffee enhances and intensifies the richness of the chocolate. It also makes the cake more moist!
The cake flour cannot be substituted. This recipe uses the reverse creaming method with low-protein flour to prevent excessive gluten development. If substituted, it won't be as tender and delicate.
Yes! Espresso powder is finely ground coffee beans and is packed with flavor. Instant espresso or coffee is already brewed, which means it lacks intense coffee flavor. You can still use it, just know your overall flavor wont be as strong.
Yes! Feel free to use decaf if you can't have the caffeine.
Chocolate Coffee Cake
- 2 8 inch cake pans *SEE NOTES FOR OTHER CAKE SIZES*
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp cake flour *see notes for measuring*
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 ½ tablespoon unsalted butter room temperature, cubed
- 1 cup sour cream room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup whole milk room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee
- ¾ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
Chocolate Coffee Buttercream
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoon brewed coffee cooled
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch fine sea salt
Chocolate Coffee Syrup
- ⅛ cup cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoon water
- 2 ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoon brewed coffee
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper on the bottoms and set them aside.
- In a stand mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso.2 cups + 2 tablespoon cake flour, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, ½ cup dark brown sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoon espresso powder, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Add in the butter and mix for 3 minutes on low until it resembles coarse sand.6 ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
- Add in the sour cream and oil. Mix on low speed for exactly one minute. It should be a very thick paste.1 cup sour cream, ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
- In a bowl with a spout, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the HOT coffee and cocoa powder.2 large eggs, ½ cup whole milk, 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup hot coffee, ¾ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- With the mixer running on low, slowly stream the egg mixture into the batter and mix until just combined. Then immediately follow with the coffee/cocoa mixture, mixing until just combined.
- Scrape down the bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no streaks of pale batter.
- Evenly distribute the chocolate batter into both cake pans. About 725 grams in each.
- Bake for 33-36 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
- Let the pans cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the sides of the pan. Flip each pan over to release the cake. Allow them to continue cooling completely on the rack.
Chocolate Coffee Buttercream
- In a stand mixing bowl, cream the butter, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar together on low speed until combined.1 ½ cups unsalted butter, 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Increase the speed to medium-high and mix for 3 minutes, until very light and fluffy.
- Then mix in the coffee, heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Mix on low until combined, then increase the speed to medium and mix for another minute until light and fluffy again.2 tablespoon brewed coffee, 1 tablespoon heavy cream, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch fine sea salt
Chocolate Coffee Syrup
- In a small pot, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, coffee, water, vanilla, and salt. Cook over medium heat until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened.⅛ cup cocoa powder, 2 ½ tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 tablespoon brewed coffee, 3 tablespoon water, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch fine sea salt
- Pour into a bowl and set aside until ready to use.
- Use a serrated knife to cut the dome off both layers. If making four layers, carefully cut each layer in half. You can skip this step and just make a two-layer cake instead!
- Pipe a dollop of buttercream onto a cake round or serving platter and place the first layer on top.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the chocolate coffee syrup over the exposed crumb.
- Evenly spread about ¼ cup of the buttercream over the cake, then place the next layer. Continue with these steps, flipping the last layer upside down so that the cake is completely flat.
- Use an offset spatula to evenly cover the cake with the rest of the frosting. It is meant to be a thin layer where you can still see the cake through the frosting. If you want a thicker coating, you will need to double the buttercream recipe.
- For the top, drizzle more syrup and decorate with coffee truffles, shaved chocolate, or anything else your heart desires!
- Use a hot knife to cut the cake, wipe it clean in between slices, and enjoy!
The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published in 2022, but has since been updated with new photos and an improved recipe!