This Chocolate Coffee Cake recipe makes a rich, decadent chocolate cake with rich coffee flavor and a light mocha chocolate frosting. Perfect cake for birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations. Or simply enjoy a slice with a cup of coffee.
Baking a cake is always a good idea! We've got some easy cake recipes on the blog, including a delicious vegan chocolate cake.
But if you don't need vegan ingredients, this is best chocolate cake recipe! It's a rich chocolate cake perfect if you're a chocolate lover or coffee lover.
Unlike our popular Banana Crumb Coffee Cake (it's the #1 Reader Fave Recipe!!), this Chocolate Coffee Cake is more of a rich chocolate layer cake that has coffee flavors. So it's more in the celebration cake category, versus everyday breakfast snacking cake.
This is truly a crowd-pleasing dessert that my whole family loves. We hope you love it, too!
🌟 Why this recipe works
This chocolate coffee cake is a chocolate lover's dream!
- It has two cake layers with rich chocolate flavor.
- The coffee buttercream frosting is easy to make and adds another layer of coffee flavor.
- A slice is perfect to enjoy with a hot cup of coffee!
- It's also a great cake to turn into a decorative celebration cake. See the Serving Ideas section for inspiration!
🛒 Ingredient notes
The cake layers call for simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Here's a quick note about a few key ingredients to use in this recipe.
Flour - This recipe calls for cake flour, which makes the chocolate cake light and fluffy. You can use all purpose flour if you don't have cake flour, but the texture will not be the same.
Chocolate - We use melted and cooled unsweetened baking chocolate. For an even richer chocolate flavor, you can use semi-sweet chocolate. If you choose to use milk chocolate or dark chocolate, be aware that it will alter the taste of the cake.
I recommend using baking bars instead of chocolate chips, since chocolate chips contain additives that help them keep their shape so they don't melt as smoothly. However, you can substitute chocolate chips if that's what you have on hand.
Coffee - The recipe calls for one cup of coffee, brewed and cooled down. Brew up your favorite coffee; a medium roast house blend tends to work better than a coffee with unique extra flavoring or a dark roast.
The coffee frosting ingredients are simple.
Butter - Much like you'll want to use room temperature butter for the cake batter, it's especially important that your unsalted butter is softened to room temperature for the frosting. This ensure the butter is creamed into a smooth frosting and doesn't have chunks of cold butter in it.
Instant coffee - You'll want to use half of the instant coffee or espresso powder dissolved in cream and blended into the frosting. The other half you will sprinkle into the final frosting to add some fun crystallized crunch and texture to the frosting.
✅ How to make chocolate coffee cake
Full instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here's a visual step-by-step guide to making this cake.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the inside bottom of the pan and the sides of two 8 round baking pans with butter. Line each pan with parchment paper and place a strip of parchment paper along the sides of each cake pan, pressing gently against the butter to hold the paper in place. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the dry cake ingredients.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar at medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
4. Then on low speed, add the melted chocolate.
5. Add the room temperature eggs.
6. Pour in the cooled brewed coffee and vanilla extract.
7. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until combined.
8. Pour into each prepared pan evenly.
9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean.
Cool in the pans for a few minutes before inverting and allowing to cool completely on a cooling rack. It's best to store the layers in the refrigerator overnight before frosting.
🧁 How to make coffee buttercream frosting
While the cake is baking, this is a great time to make the coffee buttercream frosting!
- Cream the softened butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- While the butter is creaming, in a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the instant coffee granules with the heavy cream or milk.
- Add the instant coffee and cream mixture to butter, then gradually add the powdered sugar in 1 cup increments until the frosting is light and fluffy and to your preferred consistency.
- Sprinkle in the remaining instant coffee and mix just until it's distributed throughout the frosting.
Some people prefer to do a light first frosting and create a crumb layer, then refrigerate the lightly frosted cake for a couple of hours, up to overnight. This helps create an even, smooth final frosting layer.
This cake is wonderful simply frosted. But you can embellish for special occasion cakes by adding chocolate covered espresso beans, piping decorative frosting, or chocolate sprinkles to the top of the cake.
👩🏻🍳 Recipe FAQs
No, it's called coffee cake because it's a cake made to enjoy with a cup of coffee. However, this chocolate coffee cake recipe is different: it's more of a chocolate cake, with coffee, than a traditional coffee cake. So this recipe does have espresso powder in it for a rich coffee flavor.
Adding coffee to chocolate cake intensifies the chocolate flavor. On their own, both coffee and chocolate can be bitter. But when you combine the two flavors, they compliment each other and result in a richer flavor.
Allow the cake layers to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to three days before frosting. You can also freeze the unfrosted cake layers for up to one month.
Once the cake is frosted, you can wrap either the whole cake or individual cake layers in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to four or five days. You can also freeze the frosted cake for up to one month.
This particular chocolate coffee cake does have a small amount of caffeine in it. The caffeine comes from the chocolate and from the instant coffee or espresso powder. Other coffee cake recipes, like our Banana Crumb Coffee Cake, on the other hand, does not have caffeine.
🎂 Serving ideas
Serve this delicious cake for birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, or any other celebration. It goes well with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.
Here are some decoration ideas for special occasions:
Birthday cake: pipe frosting flowers around the bottom edges and in a circular ring on top of the cake, then add chocolate sprinkles in the center on top of the cake.
Easter cake: Pipe white or pastel colored frosting around the top and add colorful chocolate mini eggs in top.
Anniversary cake: For extra decadence when celebrating an anniversary, drizzle chocolate ganache over the top of the cake so that it drips down the side in decorative lines of chocolate. Add edible gold leaf on top.
🍳 Kitchen tools and equipment
Ready to make this recipe? Here are the kitchen tools and equipment you'll need:
- Cake pans - you'll need two 8" round cake pans.
- Mixer - you'll need a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl and hand mixer.
- Cooling rack - you'll need a cooling rack to cool the cakes.
- Offset spatula - a large offset spatula makes it easy to frost the cake
- Bench scraper - use a pastry bench scraper to smooth out the frosting.
More cake recipes
If you like this chocolate coffee cake recipe, definitely try our Irish Coffee Cake recipe as well!
Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to leave a 5-Star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card, and if you really loved it, please leave a comment further down on the page. Thank you!
Chocolate Coffee Cake
For the Cake
- 2½ cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Frosting
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons instant coffee, divided
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- 3-5 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F."
- Lightly grease the inside bottoms and the sides of two 8 round baking pans with butter. Line each pan with parchment paper and place a strip of parchment paper along the sides of each cake pan, pressing gently against the butter to hold the paper in place. Set aside.
Make the Cake Layers
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and cream together for 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly add the cooled melted chocolate and beat together.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- Pour in the brewed coffee and vanilla and mix.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat together until fully incorporated.
- Pour the cake batter evenly divided into the two prepared baking pans.
- Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. While the cakes are baking, clean out the stand mixer bowl and paddle attachment, and make the frosting.
Make the Frosting
- In the stand mixer bowl, cream the butter for 2-3 minutes, just until light and fluffy.
- While the butter is creaming, In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together 2 Tablespoons of instant coffee with the cream or milk. Pour into the stand mixer bowl and combine with the butter and sugar mixture.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of instant coffee and mix just until evenly incorporated throughout the batter. These add some nice coffee crunch to the frosting!
- Then gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated and the frosting has reached your desired level of consistency. If our frosting is too thin and runny, add more powdered sugar, in ¼ cup increments, as needed. If you will not be assembling and frosting the cake within the next few hours, store the frosting in a glass airtight container and refrigerate. Take it out of the fridge about 15-20 minutes before you are ready to use, to soften the frosting.
Assemble the cake
- Once the cakes have baked, allow them to cool on a wire rack. When they are completely cool, very carefully pop them out of the pans onto a large plate or on the wire rack. They should not stick to the pan if you've greased and covered the pan with parchment paper.
- If cool to the touch, wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to overnight.
- After that, you can even out the cake layers, then decorate with the frosting. This frosting recipe makes enough to include a layer of frosting in the middle, and frosting all the way around and on top of the cake.
Nutrition information is a general estimate. Actual nutrition details may vary depending on the exact foods & brands you use to make this recipe. It does not take into account any substitutions, toppings, or optional ingredients.