Coffee Buttercream

How to make perfect coffee buttercream icing. Ideal for cupcakes, macarons and layer cakes – especially coffee & walnut cake.

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A close up of a coffee cupcake topped with a swirl of coffee buttercream on a cooling rack with more cupcakes behind.

One of my all-time favourite cakes is coffee and walnut. If I spot it in the cake cabinet in a cafe it takes a serious amount of willpower not to sneak it onto my tray. In my opinion, the key to a great coffee and walnut cake is a really good coffee buttercream, so I’ve been busy in the kitchen getting mine just right.

Piping a swirl of coffee buttercream onto a coffee cupcake with more plain cupcakes in the background.To get the coffee flavour into my buttercream I prefer to use instant coffee rather than stuff made in a proper coffee machine. The simple reason for this is that it’s the easiest way to get a really intense flavour into your buttercream. You dissolve it in the minimum amount of water possible to get as much coffee in as you can without making your buttercream too runny.

A few other tips…

  1. Make sure you leave your butter out of the fridge to soften before attempting to make buttercream, otherwise it’ll be tricky to get it really smooth. I usually take mine out a couple of hours before I’m planning on using it.
  2. Make sure you let your coffee cool completely before adding it to the buttercream (otherwise it’ll melt the butter).
  3. Add the coffee very gradually and beat each addition in before adding more. This will help ensure that you get a nice smooth buttercream.
  4. Beat your buttercream on a low-medium speed. It’s tempting to turn the speed up high to get it made quicker but you’ll end up with lots of air bubbles. If you can, try and mix it by hand for a really smooth consistency.
  5. If your buttercream is still a little too thick once you’ve added all your coffee, add a little milk to get it to the right consistency.

Six coffee cupcakes topped with coffee buttercream on a wooden board with cake forks at the side.

A close up of a coffee cupcake topped with a swirl of coffee buttercream on a cooling rack with more cupcakes behind.
5 from 2 votes

Coffee Buttercream

How to make perfect coffee buttercream icing. Ideal for cupcakes, macarons and layer cakes – especially coffee & walnut cake. Recipe VIDEO below.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 316 kcal


  • 250 g softened butter
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • tbsp boiling water


  1. Mix the instant coffee granules (3 tbsp) with the boiling water (1½ tbsp) and then set aside to cool.
  2. Cut the butter (250g) into cubes and then beat on a low-medium speed until soft. Gradually add the icing sugar (you add it gradually to stop it flying everywhere) and beat until fully combined.
  3. Add the vanilla extract (¼tsp) and add the coffee a teaspoon at a time, beating in each addition before adding more.
  4. Check the consistency of your buttercream. It should be soft and perfect for piping at this point. If it’s still a little stiff then beat in a little milk.
  5. Decorate your cakes (or just eat if off the spoon because it’s yummy!).

Recipe Notes

Take a look at my cupcake index for a selection of cakes to spread this buttercream on to. It goes particularly well with the coffee, vanilla and caramel cakes drizzled with a little caramel sauce.

Nutrition Facts
Coffee Buttercream
Amount Per Serving
Calories 316 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 25%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 44mg 15%
Sodium 150mg 6%
Potassium 49mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 42g 14%
Sugars 40g
Vitamin A 10.4%
Calcium 0.7%
Iron 0.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Watch a quick video of this recipe (along with the coffee cupcakes to pipe it on to)…

A coffee cupcake topped with coffee buttercream with a cake fork at the side and more cupcakes in the background.

Free From/Suitable For…

  • Suitable for Vegetarians
  • Gluten-Free
  • Egg-Free
  • Nut-Free
  • Corn-Free
  • Soy-Free

The ingredients for this recipe are commonly available free from all these allergens. However, please ensure you double-check allergen information for all ingredients.

Coffee cupcakes topped with coffee buttercream on a cooling rack.

How to make perfect coffee buttercream icing. Ideal for cupcakes, macarons and layer cakes - especially coffee & walnut cake.

I’m sharing this recipe with the following blog challenge… #CookBlogShare with Hijacked by Twins.



  1. Hey, I was wondering if you would be able to use margarine instead of butter.

  2. Fantastic icing! Best coffee flavored icing I’ve ever tasted or made.

  3. This was a fantastic Buttercream! Really Tasty! Had to hold myself back from licking it clean.. 🙂
    I reduced the amount of icing sugar to suit my needs..but this ones a keeper!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • But how do you reduce the icing sugar but not end up with a soupy mix? Do you also reduce the amount of coffee liquid?

      • Charlotte Oates

        You shouldn’t do, but add the coffee mix very slowly and keep a close eye on it. The coffee uses a lot of coffee granules to the amount of water so it’s very thick.

  4. OK I literally ate half the buttercream from the bowl, it tasted that fantastic. I had to make more to put on my cake. I felt a bit light-headed from the sugar rush but it was so worth it! I’ve used your Nutella buttercream before where I did the same thing…Charlotte I think I’m addicted to your buttercreams!

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’m glad to hear it. If there’s ever a flavour you’d like to see that’s not here then let me know.

      • Please give us a strawberry-lemon or lemon buttercream. I’ve had them but they weren’t balanced. I’d like to try yours

        • Charlotte Oates

          I’ve been working on both strawberry and lemon flavours. They’re not quite right yet but I’ll share them on here as soon as they are. Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter so you know as soon as they’re ready.

  5. Can I use regular sugar or grind the sugar instead of icing sugar plz reply

    • Personally I wouldn’t do this as I’m not sure you’d be able to get the sugar fine enough to ensure that the buttercream wouldn’t have a grainy texture (I’ve tried it before with a different buttercream using brown sugar and the texture wasn’t right for me).

  6. I am a professional pastry chef/artist..
    Please Please Please.. Do NOT EVER add water to your buttercream recipe! Never ever!! This is a great recipe in general but, adding water to your buttercream will ruin it!! Butter is an Oil.. A fat.. It will not mix or blend with water! If you need or want a stronger coffee flavor.. Simmer your coffee grounds in with a tiny bit of whole milk or cream as it is a fatty content liquid(strain through a filter if you do not want granules) Then add it slowly in partial additions to your buttercream.

    • Hi Candy, Thanks for your feedback. Have you actually tried this recipe or are you speaking from your own experience? I have made this buttercream many times and it is perfectly smooth (I’ve also had lots of positive feedback from others that have tried it too with the same results as me). The secret is to add the liquid very slowly (as suggested in the recipe), I take the same approach when adding any liquid to my buttercream.

  7. I made this frosting and the flavor was great but it was so soupy! I wish I could thicken it up without using powdered sugar, because that’s just going to make it more sweet. Any ideas what I did wrong? I followed the recipe as far as I noticed….

    • I’ve made this buttercream many times and not had the same problem. My only thought is whether your butter was too soft when you started.

  8. I can safely say i ate half this frosting straight from the bowl. I want this frosting to be my husband, not even kidding. Used vegan subs and added a bit of orange zest and everything turned out fantastic.

  9. Could you please post the grams to cups. I am in the US. Thanks so much. I will use instant espresso powder. Would I use the same amount as you have listed?

    • They’re just underneath the grams recipe ingredients. If you click the bit in green where it says “CLICK HERE FOR US CUPS MEASUREMENTS” the cups should appear. You should be able to substitute espresso powder for coffee granules and keep the same quantities.



  10. Perfect taste not strong/bitter… the cakes are perfect. Made these for charity cake sale and sold out very quickly… I doubled the cake recipe and managed 34 cakes… the buttercream mix was more than enough for all these and I didn’t double that… still got half mixture left….

    Love love love

    • I’m glad you enjoyed them (and raised some money too 🙂 ). I’m very generous with the buttercream on my cakes but it can easily be stretched a lot further.

  11. This has to be the best coffee buttercream recipe I’ve ever done! Thank you for posting the recipe!! Oh and living with metric since starting maths at primary school, I appreciate the metric measures!!

  12. Coffee flavour is an absolute dream – my favourite cake (besides maybe ginger?) and a hit when combined in buttercream. That being said, I hate the drink – something about the watery consistency with a big punchy flavour just seems off to me! Would love to one day get my buttercream swirls as voluminous as yours!

    • Charlotte Oates

      I quite like coffee as a drink but I much prefer coffee cake and I adore coffee ice cream. The swirls are voluminous as I used a lot of buttercream in them, also I used quite a big nozzle which helps to get them nice and tall.

  13. So where’s a good walnut cake recipe to go with this delicious buttercream?

  14. I’m with you Charlotte I do like a coffee cake and walnut cake and a good coffee buttercream is essentail. The key is not to look at the calories and just enjoy.

  15. Now I do love coffee buttercream – especially on walnut cake #cookblogshare

  16. I love coffee cake and this buttercream sounds like the perfect topping! Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

  17. This looks so good – I love coffee, as well as cupcakes, so this seems the perfect combination to me. Your other buttercream recipes also look awesome!

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