This site participates in various affiliate programs including Amazon’s. Purchases made via our links may result in commission at no additional cost to you.
Coffee is such a sophisticated drink. Whether you enjoy sipping on an espresso, indulging in a latte, or relaxing with a mug of pour-over, the essential element in all these drinks is the rich and intense coffee.
Now onto jelly or jello. This is a fun and quirky dish, best saved for kids’ birthday parties, or add a splash of vodka and serve at wild bachelorette or campus parties.
These two things don’t appear to belong in the same sentence yet here we are. Coffee Jelly is as mad as it sounds. This weird recipe actually has a fair amount of history surrounding it and can be quite tasty when made properly.
To make coffee jelly you simply combine strong sweetened coffee with gelatin and let it set to give a bold yet wobbly treat.
Of course, there’s more to it than that and if you’re really keen to give this a go then here’s all you need to know about this strange concoction.
What Is Coffee Jelly?
Think 70s cookbook where every recipe seems to include gelatin powder. The salads, soups, main courses, and desserts all stand up in their own unique display case, wobbling gently as they’re served. That’s the first thought that comes to mind when you combine the words coffee and jelly or jello if you prefer. The truth is, this weird and wonderful concoction has been around for a lot longer than this.
Coffee Jelly first dates back to the early 1800s where old English cookbooks display their own take on a coffee jelly recipe. This involved dissolving coffee in calves foot jelly to give a dessert that’s as gross as it sounds.
Moving on to the early 1900s coffee jelly resurfaced as a low acid alternative to hot coffee. The idea was that the gelatin would absorb excess stomach acid. As gelatin has a pH of 4.8, this combined with acidic coffee is unlikely to achieve this goal.
Jell-O has tried launching their own brand of a gelatin coffee mixture but this turned out to be a major flop.
The real popularity grew around coffee jelly in Japan in the Taisho period when Japanese cafe culture was gaining popularity. Japanese coffee jelly took inspiration from Western fashion and is still a recognized Japanese dessert today.
So that’s a bit of a history lesson but the actual definition of coffee jelly is a dessert recipe that combines sweetened strong coffee and gelatin to give molded coffee flavor jelly cubes. It’s often served cubed, in a small bowl with the option of heavy cream on top.
How to Make Coffee Jelly/Coffee Jello
It will take around 15 to 20 minutes to combine all your ingredients but heating and preparing the coffee can affect this a lot depending on the brew method you choose.
It can take around 5-6 hours for the jelly to fully set so this is a recipe that needs to be prepared in advance or even the day before for best results.
- 2 Cups of Strong Brewed Coffee
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Gelatin or Agar Powder
- Whipped Cream (optional)
It’s best to prepare the coffee in advance so it has time to cool before you add the gelatin. Hot water can destroy it and affect its ability to set properly. Brew your coffee stronger than you would typically take it and dissolve the sugar in the liquid. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
Next, in a small bowl, combine the gelatin powder and 1/4 cup of room temperature water. Whisk the gelatin mixture into the coffee to combine.
Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish 8-9 square inches or 7 x 11 inches in size is ideal.
Refrigerate the mixture for 5-6 hours until set or overnight if possible.
Once set, take a knife and cut the mixture into half-inch square cubes.
Serve in a small dish with a dollop of whipped cream on top. If you fancy a cooling summertime treat then try it served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Cover any excess jelly with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days.
There’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to the kind of coffee you choose for this dish. Here are a few options to choose from so you can select your favorite way.
A lot of people prefer to use instant coffee as it’s quick, easy to make and you can easily adjust the coffee strength. Make sure you heat the water up to just below boiling as too hot can burn the coffee and make it taste bitter.
Espresso is probably the best choice and is the preferred method used by coffee shops. This kind of coffee is brewed under high heat as well as high pressure which helps extract optimal flavor and aroma from the coffee beans. To brew this kind of coffee you need an espresso machine plus a bit of know-how to get the technique just right.
French press is an inexpensive and straightforward way to brew a strong cup of coffee that’s bold in flavor and body. Make sure you use coffee that’s very coarsely ground and add coffee to water at a 1:15 ratio or stronger. Use water that’s boiled and cooled a little (195-205F) and let the coffee brew for 4 minutes before you press the plunger.
An Aeropress is another good way to make espresso-like coffee but without the expensive machine. It works by