Making Espresso Syrup

Part of the fun of being deeply into pastry is discovering the odd little components you never knew existed, but which make your dinner guests’ eyes bug out of their head as they demand to know: what IS that??

Espresso syrup is one of them. A very simple combination of deep, dark caramel and espresso, it’s great for flavoring all sorts of cream fillings, or drizzling strategically on plated desserts. If you’re familiar with making caramel — or even if you’re not — making it is a stroll in the park.

Start by combining a cup of sugar and about a quarter cup of water in saucepan.

Set it over high heat and swirl it gently.

It’ll get darker…

…and darker…

…and darker until it starts to smoke prodigiously. Cook it until you see a deep brown-black spot in the center of the pan.

At this point add 4 ounces (half a cup) of warm espresso. Careful now…it’ll hiss and bubble.

Drop the heat to medium and whisk the mixture. Keep the heat on as long as there are still any hard bits remaining.

You want it nice and smooth, about like so:

Allow it to cool completely, then pour it into a jar for storage (if you want to spike it with a little rum or something beforehand, who am I to stop you?). It will keep for weeks, even months, though it will lose some of its potency with the passage of time.

14 thoughts on “Making Espresso Syrup”

  1. ooh yes. I have been making a lot of caramel lately (salted butter, pecan, sauce, fillings, etc), and this will be my next batch. Now- what to do with it… (besides spooning it directly into my mouth!)

  2. two of my favorite things–caramel and espresso! This is so simple, there’s no excuse why I shouldn’t make some right now! Then, I would love to pour this over some ice cream, if it doesn’t do that hardening thing :)

  3. Caramel is absolutely amazing.
    And ha, yes. Spooning it directly into your mouth is even better.


    Coffee man

    1. I think it would work very well. It’s a strong flavor, so all you need is a little.

      – Joe

  4. hmmm… I am terrified when it comes to cooking with coffee. Why? Coffee-flavor is very delicate… like if you leave your filter-coffee on the hot plate, it will turn bitter in a few minutes or less. That’s why hot plates are devil-sent. However is there any way to infuse the caramell with espresso/coffee-flavor without cooking it any longer? I know instant-espresso doesn’t work, since it won’t dilute in the caramell (been there, done that, failed big time)…

    1. I suppose if you were hesitant to add the espresso to hot caramel, you could cool the caramel, add the espresso and gently heat the mixture until the caramel (which will be solid by that point) melts. That would prevent too much heating.

      That’s my best solution!

      – Joe

  5. If all I have is black cookware, I wouldn’t be able to see a dark spot forming. How would I know when to add the espresso?

    Also, would really strong coffee work as well? I have no espresso machine.

    1. Good question! The smoke is the telltale sign in that case. A little smoke and you’re close — a lot of shake and you’re there!


      – Joe

  6. I just tried making it but It hardened completely not syrupy at all. any pointers?

    1. Did it harden once the espresso went in? If so just keep cooking and swirling until the hardened caramel melts — what you have is still good!

      – Joe

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