One of the things many people dearly miss about Japan when living abroad is Japanese Coffee Jelly. Although it is lesser-known in other countries, it is one of the most popular desserts in Japan that can be found anywhere from convenience stores to supermarkets to posh cafes and ‘Kissaten’ (Japanese-style tea room and coffee shops). Simple yet decadent and addictively delicious, Japanese Coffee Jelly is something you must try at least once in your lifetime especially if you love coffee. That is why in this article today, we will introduce you to Japanese Coffee Jelly – what it is and how you can easily make your own at home with just a few simple ingredients, including, of course, your favorite coffee!
What is Japanese Coffee Jelly?
Japanese coffee jelly is a delicious dessert where the main ingredient is coffee. The other ingredients are water, sugar, and thickening agent (gelatin or agar-agar), although they might vary slightly between versions. It has a jello-like texture and a bittersweet taste that is unforgettably good. When you hear jello-like, you might get the wrong impression of the dessert being unsophisticated and for children. But that is the farthest from the truth when it comes to Japanese coffee jelly.
Japanese coffee jelly is the ultimate dessert for grown-ups and coffee lovers with its bold coffee taste and flavor. On top of that, it is gorgeous and refined both in taste and appearance. Japanese coffee jelly can be served in transparent glass bowls or cups with toppings such as whipped cream, condensed milk, liquid coffee creamers, etc. Alternatively, it can come in the form of beautiful translucent bite-sized pieces floating in a glass or cup of half-and-half or milk.
Today we are going to share with you how you can make this delightful dessert at home. The best part of making Japanese coffee jelly at home is that you can make it with coffee that has been brewed using your favorite brewing method from your favorite coffee beans.
How to make Japanese Coffee Jelly at home – an easy recipe
What you will need:
400ml Freshly brewed coffee (The desired amount of instant coffee dissolved in 400ml hot water works perfectly fine as well)
50ml Water at room temperature
3-4 tablespoons of sugar (This can be adjusted according to your preference)
5 grams unflavored gelatin powder (can be replaced with the same amount of agar-agar powder)
Mix the gelatin powder (or agar-agar powder) with the water and let the powder dissolve.
Brew your coffee (or make instant coffee) and add the sugar to it in a saucepan. Stir well to make sure the sugar is dissolved. (Tip: If the coffee is cold and you are not sure if the coffee sugar has dissolved, heat it on the stove until the sugar is completely dissolved. This ensures even sweetness.)
Mix the gelatin mixture with the coffee and sugar mixture. Whisk or stir until everything is mixed well. (If you are using agar-agar or Kanten, then the mixture has to be heated to the point where it just starts to boil so that the gelling powder can dissolve).
Pour it in small cups or glasses and leave it in the fridge until the jelly has set and become chilled. Alternatively, the mixture can be poured into one single container and then left in the refrigerator. It takes approximately 6 hours for the jelly to be ready. (Tip: Make sure to cover the container/cup/glasses using a lid or plastic wraps to avoid unwanted smells from the fridge going into the coffee jelly.)
If you have made the jelly in the cup or serving glasses, you can take them out when the jelly has set and put your favorite topping on the jelly, and they are ready!
The topping can be fresh cream, whipped cream, condensed milk, half-and-half milk mixed with sugar syrup, etc. You can also make it a little fancy with a mint leaf, a cinnamon stick, sprinkles of cocoa powder, etc.
If you have made it in a container, cut the jelly into small pieces and then serve them in a glass or bowl with your desired topping or put them in your drink.
Omake – Coffee Jelly Frappuccino sign I took in Starbucks Japan back in 2009. I don’t think they still carry this one anymore.
Insider Tips to make your coffee jelly even better!
The recipe for making the Japanese coffee jelly is relatively straightforward; however, you can play your way around with the ingredients and different factors to customize your coffee jelly, so it perfectly matches your own taste and preferences.
What kind of coffee to use?
There is no restriction on what type of coffee you can use to make your coffee jelly. However, it is best to use medium to dark roasted coffee beans with a well-rounded and balanced taste and flavors. Chocolate, nutty, and caramel notes are all very welcome. When you choose the coffee, it might be helpful to think about what will combine well with milk and cream to create a dessert item. It is probably best to stay away from beans with high acidity and intense fruity flavors. That being said, you can always be a bit adventurous and experiment, right?
My personal favorite is to use European Premium Mild Signature Blend Coffee (Colombia, Brazil, Honduras, Indonesia). It brings forward the “smokiness” of coffee aroma very well in Jelly.
How to brew the coffee?
If you feel guilty about using instant coffee and not brewing the coffee using a particular method, please don't. You can make delicious coffee jelly using instant coffee, and when done right, it might even turn out better than using brewed coffee. If you are using instant coffee, one thing to make sure of is to use good quality instant coffee, as coffee jelly should have an intense coffee taste and flavor, not just the dark color of coffee.
If you use other methods to brew your coffee, such as pour-over, espresso, or French press, it might be better to brew on the stronger side. Also, it is important not to have any grinds or dredge inside the coffee as it will create an unpleasant and inconsistent texture in the jelly.
What kind of thickening agent to use?
The most common types of thickening or gelling agents used to make desserts are gelatin and Kanten (Japanese agar-agar). Kanten is most commonly used in Japanese cuisine and dessert making. It is obtained from edible seaweed, so if you want to make your coffee jelly vegan and vegetarian-friendly, this is a great ingredient to use instead of gelatin obtained from animal sources.
Another thing to consider about the thickening agent is the texture of your coffee jelly. Agar or Kanten tend to create a firmer texture, whereas gelatin results in a wobblier and softer texture. So if you are making the version where you cut the jelly into pieces, it might be better to use Kanten. On the other hand, gelatin might work better to create a supple, bouncy, and wobbly jelly which is nice to be scooped out of cups or glasses.
The last thing to note regarding thickening agents is that the more thickening agent powder you use, the firmer your jelly will be.
Can children have Japanese coffee jelly?
Japanese coffee jelly is associated with some of our fondest childhood memories. When we were children, being allowed to have coffee jelly with the older members of our families made us feel like we were part of the grown-ups since children are not usually allowed to drink coffee. It must be a special moment for your children too.
If you are a parent and worried about the caffeine in the coffee jelly, you can always use a good quality decaffeinated coffee in the recipe.
Can I freeze the coffee jelly?
Unfortunately, freezing the coffee jelly will ruin the texture of the jelly, so it cannot be frozen. Besides, Japanese coffee jelly is so good that it is almost impossible not to eat everything you have made while they are fresh, so most probably, you would not have anything left to freeze for later!
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*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
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