Cafe Mocha Cupcake topped with mocha buttercream, a chocolate covered espresso bean, and chocolate sprinkles.

We’re coffee lovers here and when we’re at home, we drink mostly half-caff or decaf which makes it easy for Kyle to justify the amount he drinks in a day.  And since we bought a Keurig back in the fall, not only can we brew a cup in about 30 seconds, but we’ve got lots of new flavors to try as well. 

So when these café mocha cupcakes crossed my path a few weeks ago, I couldn’t resist.  Simple ingredients…good ingredients…lots of coffee…fantastic results.  And this is quite possibly is the best buttercream frosting I’ve ever made too!

Espresso flavor is busting out of this smooth and decadent frosting and it’s the frosting that made this cupcake as great as it was. I’m not sure I would use this choice of cupcake recipe again since the cake was quite literally falling apart under the weight of the frosting and I really didn’t find as much coffee flavor as I had expected to. 

I should have been leery of the cupcake since it’s adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe and that’s definitely not my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. Next time I make these, I’ll use my favorite devil’s food cupcake recipe

In any event, treat yourself to some chocolate covered espresso beans for a little garnish and boost the buzz…something that’s certainly appreciated in this house after all that decaf!

Looking for More Mocha Recipes?

Cafe Mocha Cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream, a chocolate covered espresso bean, and chocolate sprinkles.

Café Mocha Cupcakes

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

These Café Mocha Cupcakes are espresso cupcakes to the max! Bursting with coffee and chocolate flavor in the cupcake AND the frosting, the coffee lover in your life will go nuts for this dessert!


For the cupcakes:

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup liquid buttermilk, shaken
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1 ½ tsp instant espresso granules

For the frosting:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 lbs confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 3 to 6 tbsp heavy cream

For assembly:

  • Chocolate covered espresso beans (optional)
  • Chocolate sprinkles (optional)


  1. To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350° 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 to 4 tablespoons), divide 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.
  6. To make the frosting: In a large bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder; set aside.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar/cocoa powder mixture, and continue creaming until well blended.
  8. 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.
  9. To assemble: In batches, add the frosting to a piping bag fitted with your desired pastry tip. For these, cupcakes, I used the Ateco 808 tip, which is a wide open round tip. (See the Recommended Products section below for a link to buy this tip.) But, any tip you want to use will work fine here.
  10. Pipe the frosting on to the cupcakes and top with a chocolate covered espresso bean and some chocolate sprinkles, if desired.


adapted from My Baking Addiction

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Leave a Comment

  • March 11, 2011 at 7:23 AM

    Mocha cupcakes with a cup of mocha.. sounds good 😀 they look really cute 🙂

  • March 11, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    These look wonderful and I am also a big coffee lover. I’d go crazy over that frosting!

  • March 11, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    Adorable site, mouth-watering pictures. Can’t wait to try some of your recipes posted.

    The Souper

  • March 11, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Oh goodness yes please. Being complete coffee addicts…these perfectly combine our coffee/chocolate love!

  • March 11, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    This looks sooooo good! I think I’d skip this as a dessert and just have it with my morning cup of coffee 😀

  • March 11, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Your frosting is so fluffy and pretty! I want one of these cupcakes right now!

  • March 11, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    Beautiful photo, delectable cupcake. Where were you at breakfast this morning?!?

  • March 11, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    These are gorgeous and I bet they taste awesome! 🙂 Adding them to my “to bake” list for sure!

  • March 11, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    These look so beautiful – I want to eat one right now!

  • March 11, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    We too are coffee lovers. I love cupcakes, chocolate and mochas so to have all three in one……yummy.

  • March 11, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    Simply beautiful!

  • Ann
    March 11, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    These are too cute. I really love them. I need to try these really soon.

  • March 11, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    The photo looks absolutely amazing. The cupcake has a really nice sheen

  • March 11, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    Since we are coffee lovers here too I’m pretty sure these cupcakes will be a success in my home. Thanks for sharing!

  • March 11, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    These cupcakes are gorgeous! I love mocha flavored anything, so I’m sure I would love these.

  • March 12, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    Well Hello Cupcake. These look awesome and Im not a mocha/coffee/late/grande/vente fan (clearly as I don’t even know the right terms). But I would try these in a heart beat!

  • March 13, 2011 at 3:06 AM

    OMG, beautifulness!!! These look amazing and must taste DELISH 🙂

  • Liz
    March 13, 2011 at 8:33 AM

    Beautiful cupcakes!!!! And they must be delicious, too!!!

  • March 13, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Picture perfect tasty creation! Congrats on Top 9 featruing! Have a great Sunady afternoon 🙂

  • March 13, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Perfect mocha cupcakes. Loved the icing and congrats on top 9 !

  • March 13, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    These look delicious. I would love to try them with a latte! 🙂

  • March 14, 2011 at 2:04 AM

    Your cupcakes look amazing. My husband and I drink a lot of coffee and I am sure that these would be an instant winner in our household. Beautiful photo too.

  • March 18, 2011 at 4:50 AM

    Wow! Café mocha is really my favorite flavor even on ice cream. I love to try this cup cake recipe of yours. My hubby will surely love this. YUMMY!

  • March 20, 2011 at 5:50 AM

    nything with mocha flavor is my favorite. I can already make this right away since I have all the ingredients in my kitchen.

  • Maria in NJ
    April 2, 2012 at 7:14 AM

    Tara they look so good and thank you for that great frosting recipe, can’t wait to try it…I have a question… what size tip did you use to get that result…love it!

    • April 2, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      Maria: I believe the tip is Ateco 809 (11/16″). I purchased it from but this tip is usually in short supply there.

  • Trish
    May 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    I have everything on hand for these but the espresso powder. Do you think some instant coffee would work? I have Folgers French Roast, Colombian and a few others in individual packages.

    • May 11, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      Trish: Sure – instant coffee will work fine. Just add a little bit more than the recipe calls for because it isn’t as strong as espresso powder. Let me know how they turn out for you!

      • Trish
        May 12, 2012 at 8:39 AM

        Thanks Tara! I sure will.
        BTW, my daughter’s name is Terra.

  • xoAM
    May 15, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Can the frosting be made a few days ahead of time?

    • May 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      xoAM: Definitely – keep it in the fridge and bring it to room temperature before using.

  • CupcakeMadness
    September 23, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    heyy was wondering how many cupcakes this batter made. cus reading the measurements for the frosting seems like it makes a lot.

    • September 23, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      I’d recommend using the cupcake recipe I linked to in the post (Devil’s Food) rather than the one I posted. The Devil’s Food cupcake recipe yields about 27 cupcakes.

  • Elizabeth
    October 5, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    Hi Tara,

    The link to the devil’s food cupcake recipe is broken. Do you have the recipe elsewhere on this blog? I’m planning to make these for my class next week. And the recipe doesn’t state the yield–it would be useful to know whether I need to make a single or double batch to cover all my students.

    • October 5, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for letting me know about the broken link – I just fixed it. If this happens again, you can always do a search for whatever you’re looking for. The cupcake recipe will yield approx 27 cupcakes and the frosting recipe should make just about enough…though don’t go overboard on the frosting or you won’t have enough.

  • Donna
    December 14, 2012 at 2:44 AM

    Hi! I’ve been looking for a good Mocha Cupcake recipe to turn into a Peppermint Mocha Cupcake recipe 😛 did you ever try them with the Devil’s Food Cupcake you link to?? Would I substitute brewed coffee for the H2O?

    • December 15, 2012 at 6:42 AM

      I think that would work great! I would also add 1 tsp of instant coffee or espresso powder if you have it.

  • taraliptak
    February 19, 2014 at 6:12 AM

    Honestly, the frosting MAKES these cupcakes so yay for it being GF! I wasn’t overly thrilled with the density of the cake recipe I used for these cupcakes (though many people swear by this cake recipe) so I was a bigger fan of the frosting anyway. ha!

    Good to know about how you were able to frost a cake with the amount of frosting here – it’s always tricky to estimate how cupcake frosting translates to a cake, especially since everyone uses different amounts for both. Just for reference in the future, was your cake a triple layer 8-inch or 9-inch cake?

  • Asra
    August 30, 2018 at 10:23 AM

    How to prepare brewed hot coffee

    • Tara
      September 7, 2018 at 9:09 AM

      You can either make coffee in a coffee pot (electric, stovetop, French press, etc.) or buy a cup of coffee and heat it when you get home.

  • Cory Nicolaus
    February 21, 2020 at 12:51 PM

    This is by far my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and I use it all the time. Have you ever tried it in 8 inch round layers? Do you think it would be too soft to work in 8inch layers?

    • Tara
      February 22, 2020 at 7:33 PM

      Hi Cory! So great to hear your review of these cupcakes! I haven’t tried this recipe in round layers but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Let me know how this turns out for you! Happy baking!