Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes With Espresso Frosting

12 cupcakes
30 min

Calling all coffee lovers to these chocolate mocha cupcakes! Soft, moist chocolate cupcakes are filled with fresh coffee flavor and topped with espresso buttercream and chocolate-covered coffee beans. It's a classic coffee drink in dessert form.

Four mocha cupcakes on a stand, one leans over resting on the others.
Why You'll Love This Recipe

  • A strong coffee and chocolate flavor that's perfect for a chocolate lover. The secret ingredient? Hot coffee. There's freshly brewed coffee in the chocolate cupcake batter that imparts an underlying coffee flavor to help enhance the deep chocolate.
  • Coffee buttercream! Need I say more? This recipe mocha cupcake recipe takes a standard vanilla frosting and adds instant espresso for a nice coffee flavor.
  • No need to break out the stand mixer for these chocolate mocha cupcakes. The cupcake batter can be made by hand, and the espresso buttercream can be made using a hand mixer (or you can use your stand mixer, if you want, for that part).
  • These are seriously the best chocolate cupcakes! I'm telling you, this is my go-to chocolate cake base - I use it in my chocolate strawberry cupcakes, s'mores cupcakes, caramel chocolate cake, and triple chocolate layer cake. It never fails me.

If you're a big coffee drinker, you're going to love this delicious mocha cupcake. It's soft, luscious, and so delicious!

Mocha cupcake on a plate with a bite removed sitting on a spoon.
Ingredients for chocolate mocha cupcakes.
  • Dry ingredients. All-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt.
  • Cocoa powder.This recipe uses dutch-processed cocoa, which can be found in most US grocery stores as Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa.
  • Sugars. Granulated sugar for the cupcake and powdered sugar (icing sugar) for the espresso buttercream frosting.
  • Fats. Egg, sour cream, and vegetable oil for the cupcakes, and unsalted butter for the icing. All of these ingredients need to be at room temperature.
  • Coffee. A half cup of coffee (hot) is used to bloom the cocoa powder and create extra coffee flavor.
  • Instant espresso powder. Instant coffee granules can be swapped for instant espresso.

See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities for the chocolate mocha cupcakes.


  • Natural unsweetened cocoa powder can be used in place of dutch processed cocoa. It is important to note that regular cocoa powder and dutch is not always an approved swap, but can be done in this recipe. The cupcakes will be lighter in color and flavor.
  • Any neutral oil (like canola, grape seed, or vegetable oil) can be used in the cupcake batter.
  • Greek yogurt or buttermilk can be used in place of sour cream.
  • Hot water can be used instead of coffee in the cupcake batter, but you'll lose out on enhancing the strong flavor of chocolate.
  • Instant espresso or instant coffee granules can be used. For either, use the tiniest bit of water (I'm talking drips) to liquefy the powders before adding it to the frosting recipe.


  • Add ½ cup mini chocolate chips to the batter for extra chocolate flavor.
  • Turn them into mini cupcakes and cut the bake time in half.
  • Add chocolate ganache to the centers of the cupcake by following these steps.

How to Make This Recipe

Before beginning, preheat the oven and line a standard cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

A whisk mixes together the dry cupcake ingredients in a bowl.

One: Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, including the sugar.

A whisk mixes together the wet ingredients.

Two: In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (except the coffee).

A hand folds the wet and dry cupcake ingredients together in a bowl.

Three: Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to combine.

Coffee pours into the chocolate cupcake batter.

Four: Pour in the hot coffee and carefully use the spatula to combine until a smooth, thin batter forms.

A large cookie scoop fills cupcake liners with batter in a muffin tin.

Five: Use a large cookie or ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake pan (you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get out every last bit of batter) and bake.

Creamed butter in a bowl with powdered sugar.

Six: Beat the butter for a few minutes until super fluffy and light in color. Add the powdered sugar and espresso powder and beat again until very fluffy and smooth.

Hot tip! For best results, only fill the liners ⅔ of the way to get the perfect cupcake.

Mocha Buttercream Frosting and Assembly
A hand pipes espresso buttercream onto chocolate cupcakes.

Seven: Transfer the espresso buttercream to a piping bag and pipe on the frosting. Use an offset spatula to make a indent in the frosting (to hold the toppings), or leave it piped.

Mocha cupcakes strewn about a counter with coffee on the side.

Eight: Top the cupcakes with chocolate curls and chocolate-covered espresso or coffee beans.

Expert Tips

  • Use room temperature ingredients for the cupcake batter, which allows for the smoothest batter and most even bake.
  • Also use room temperature butter for the espresso frosting. If it's too soft, it won't hold up to the piping as well.
  • Rotate the pan halfway through to ensure an even bake.
  • Remove the cupcakes from the pan (I use an offset spatula to do this) after about five minutes and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Recipe FAQs

Can I make the cupcakes ahead of time?

You can make the cake portion up to two days in advance, but I recommend frosting them on the day you plan to serve them. The frosting can be made a week in advance and stored in the fridge. It will need to be re-whipped prior to frosting the cupcakes.

What is the secret to moist cupcakes?

Having the correct amount of sugar and fat will create an ultra moist cupcake. These chocolate cupcakes are anything but dry!

Do I have to using a piping bag to add the frosting?

Definitely not. You can scoop it on with an ice cream scoop, or add it on with a spoon and smooth it out with a spatula or knife.


Store the chocolate mocha cupcakes lightly covered at room temperature for two days, or in the fridge for 4 days. As a result of fridge time, the frosting will begin to get a slightly hard outside from the powdered sugar drying, but will remain ultra soft on the inside.

To freeze the cupcakes, wrap each pre-frosted cupcake in plastic wrap, then add it to an airtight bag and freeze for three months. Unwrap completely and thaw at room temperature before adding the frosting.

Chocolate coffee cupcakes on a small cake stand.
More Chocolate Recipes You'll Love

Chocolate Espresso Tart

Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Brownies

Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme

Caramel Brownie Pie

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Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes With Espresso Frosting
Recipe details
  • 12  cupcakes
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 30 min
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Chocolate Cupcakes
  • ▢ 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 90g
  • ▢ 3/4 cup granulated sugar 150g
  • ▢ 1/3 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder 35g
  • ▢ 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • ▢ 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ▢ 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ▢ 1 large egg room temperature
  • ▢ 1/3 cup sour cream room temperature, 90g
  • ▢ 1/3 cup vegetable oil 75g
  • ▢ 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ▢ 1/2 cup hot coffee or water 4 fl oz
Espresso Buttercream
  • ▢ 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature (113g)
  • ▢ 2 cups powdered sugar 240g
  • ▢ 1/2 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
  • ▢ 1 tablespoon instant espresso or instant coffee
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • ▢ chocolate covered coffee beans optional
  • ▢ chocolate curls optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180℃ and line a standard cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
Chocolate Cupcakes
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. ¾ cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup granulated sugar, ⅓ cup dutch-processed cocoa powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, sour cream, vegetable oil, and vanilla with a whisk until combined. 1 large egg, ⅓ cup sour cream, ⅓ cup vegetable oil, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add the hot coffee and carefully stir to combine.½ cup hot coffee or water
Fill each cupcake liner ⅔ full, and bake for 13-15 minutes. The top of the cupcake will spring back when touched. A toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean with a few moist crumbs.
Allow them to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then use an offset spatula to remove them from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Espresso Buttercream
Cream the butter for 6 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or using an hand mixer.½ cup unsalted butter
Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined, then beat for 3 more minutes.2 cups powdered sugar
Combine the espresso powder with a few drips of water and stir until until it becomes a slightly liquid paste. Add it to the creamed butter and sugar, along with the vanilla and mix to combine.1 tablespoon instant espresso or instant coffee, ½ tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
Add the milk or heavy cream and mix on medium speed for another minute.2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag and add to the tops of the cooled cupcakes.
Top each cupcake with chocolate curls and chocolate covered coffee beans (optional).
  • Store the cupcakes lightly covered at room temperature for two days, or in the fridge for 4 days. Note that the frosting will begin to get a slightly hard outside from the powdered sugar drying, but will remain ultra soft on the inside.
  • Tips:
  • -You'll need to scrape out every last bit of batter to fill the cupcake liners.
  • -Rotate the pans halfway through the cooking time to ensure an even bake.
The Cozy Plum | Callan
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