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This two layer chocolate coffee cake got rave reviews! Everyone loves the pairing of chocolate & coffee! The chocolate cake is moist and rich, plus the coffee frosting has specks of coffee grounds in it!

whole chocolate cofee cake on wooden tray on dark background
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This 2 layer chocolate coffee cake is a dream! It has a drippy chocolate ganache, because who doesn’t love a drippy cake?! On top of the cake are swirls of coffee frosting and chocolate covered coffee beans that I found in the bulk section of our grocery store.

Why Use Hot Water in Chocolate Cake

The hot water intensifies the chocolate flavor of the cocoa powder through a process called blooming. This means the chocolate cake will have a more intense chocolate flavor once it’s baked. 

whole chocolate cofee cake on wooden tray on dark background

How to Properly Measure Flour

  1. Fluff the flour with a fork
  2. Use a spoon to scoop the flour into your measuring cup
  3. Use a butter knife to level off the flour in the measuring cup

Sticking the measuring cup straight into the bag of flour will result in too much flour to be packed into the cup, which can result in dry cake.

How to Prepare a Cake Pan

I recommend greasing your cake pan with butter or shortening, not non-stick cooking spray. Liberally butter the entire pan. I find that butter works better to grease the pan to ensure the cake doesn’t stick. 

Place your hand inside a ziplock bag or paper towel, use 1/2 tablespoon of butter or shortening and liberally butter the pan. The bag or paper towel will prevent the butter from getting all over your hands. 

For super easy cake removal, cut out a circle of parchment paper that is the same size as your pan and place it in the bottom of the pan after you buttered it. I trace the bottom of my springform pan onto the paper, then cut it out. 

slice of chocolate coffee cake on metal plate

How To Bake Even Flat Cakes

I use bake even cake strips around the outside of my springform pans to ensure that my cakes bake with flat even tops. It works every time and a 2 pack is about $10 on Amazon! 

You can also use a cake leveler or serrated knife to level your cakes before assembling them. 

whole chocolate coffee cake on wooden tray on dark background

How To Make Moist Chocolate Cake Ahead of Time

Make the cake layers, allow them to cool completely, then wrap them well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. Alternatively, you can freeze them for up to 3 months. 

Chocolate buttercream can also be made ahead of time. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. When ready to use, allow the buttercream to come to room temperature and briefly beat with a mixer. 

How Much Frosting Between Cake Layers

 For an 8 inch 2 layer cake chocolate cake I recommend 3/4 to 1 cup of frosting between the cake layers. The remaining frosting will be used to frost the sides and top of the cake. 

If you love coffee flavored desserts, try mini coffee cheesecakes, coffee whipped cream or aquafaba meringues.

More Cake Recipes

4.37 from 65 ratings

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Chocolate Coffee Cake

By: Beth
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 16 servings
2 layer chocolate coffee cake – this cake got rave reviews! Everyone loves the pairing of chocolate & coffee!



  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour *see note below
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (1/2 cup)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted & cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp hot tap water
  • 1 cup chocolate milk

Coffee Frosting

  • 5 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 tbsp milk
  • additional 2-3 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 3-5 cups powdered sugar

Chocolate Ganache

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips



  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  • Using butter, grease the bottom and sides of two 8 inch round cake pans or springform pans and line the bottoms with a round piece of parchment paper. To ensure even baking, place a bake even strip around the pan. You can make your own homemade bake even strip by cutting a towel or shirt to fit the size of your pan. Get the fabric really wet, then squeeze out the dripping water but do not squeeze it too dry. Secure the fabric around the pan with a safety pin.
  • In a small mixing bowl combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the butter and sugar, beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, 2 minutes. Add in the melted chocolate and eggs, beat to combine.
  • Place the 2 tbsp of hot tap water in a small bowl, stir in the baking soda then add to the batter. Add half of the chocolate milk to the batter, stir by hand with spatula to combine. Gradually add half of the flour mixture, mixing lightly. Repeat with the second half of the chocolate milk and second half of the flour mixture – mixing just until combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between both pans, with about 2 & 1/4 cups of batter in each pan. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Once the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, carefully remove the cake from the pan. If using a springform pan, remove the sides and bottom. Allow the cake to cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cool, remove the parchment paper round from the bottom of the cake. If you need to level the top of your cake, do so now using either a cake lever or knife.
  • Make sure the cake is completely cool before moving forward. If you’d like to make the cake several days in advance, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.

Coffee Frosting

  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter using an electric mixer until fluffy. Add in the instant coffee granules that you dissolved in the milk. Add in additional instant coffee granules, about 1 tsp at a time until you get your desired coffee flavor.
  • Begin to add the powdered sugar, about 1-2 cups at a time, mixing by hand first, then with the electric mixer. Continue adding powdered sugar until the frosting tastes good to you and is well mixed.

Chocolate Ganache

  • Make the ganache after you've frosted the cake.
  • Place chocolate chips in a medium heat-proof bowl.
  • In a small pot over low heat, heat the heavy cream until boiling.
  • Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate chips. Allow the mixture to stand for 1-2 minutes.
  • Use a spatula to stir the mixture until smooth.
  • Allow the ganache to come to room temperature before adding it to the cake.


  • Next, it’s time to do a crumb coat. The crumb coat will help seal the crumbs in. Using your offset spatula, spread a thin layer of buttercream around the sides and the top of the cake. It’s easiest to start off with more frosting on the cake and remove some as needed.
  • Place the entire cake in the freezer or fridge for 20 minutes to harden the crumb coat.
  • Begin to add the second layer of frosting. Spread an even layer of frosting on the top of the cake. Next either pipe on the frosting or spread on the frosting around the sides of the cake. Use a spatula or icing smoother to smooth out the frosting, scraping off excess as you go. Once the frosting is uniform around the cake, use the smooth side of Viva brand paper towels and a fondant smoother to smooth out any imperfections. Place the paper towel on the cake and gently rub the fondant smoother around. Repeat this process, moving the paper towel all around the cake.
  • Transfer the cake to your desired serving plate.
  • Once the ganache is room temperature, use a spoon or squeeze bottle to drizzle the ganache around the sides of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Fill in the middle of the cake with ganache and spread evenly with the back of the spoon. Allow the ganache to set for 10 minutes.
  • Top the cake with espresso buttercream swirls. To do this I used a piping bag fit with a Wilton 1M piping tip. Add chocolate covered coffee beans if desired.
  • Slice and serve!



*You can make your own cake flour at home by measuring out 1 cup of flour, then removing 2 tbsp of flour and replacing it with 2 tbsp of cornstarch. Be sure to sift the flour and cornstarch mixture twice.
This recipe turned out great using gluten free flour too! We love King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour.


Calories: 652kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 258mg | Potassium: 170mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 1222IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 2mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Beth

I believe that everyone should have a go-to dessert to bring to parties! With hundreds of recipes, I'll help you find yours!

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Recipe Rating


  1. The flavors of this are a wonderful combination and beautiful presentation. However, the sponge from this recipe is EXTREMELY dry. I also wouldn’t recommend the icing. The addition of vegetable shortening makes  for an undesirable texture, but that is a personal preference. Due to the dryness, I ended up throwing the finished product in the trash. Very disappointing. However,  I do plan to take the idea of these flavors, change the recipe, and try again in the future. 

  2. Hi! I am so excited to make this recipe. I only have a 9 inch springform pan. Could I do a 2-layer cake with this recipe and my 9 inch pan? I was also wondering if there was any possible substitute for buttermilk?

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    1. Hi Nina! A 9 inch pan will be good – the cake will be a little thinner and will need a little less baking time. I don’t have a recommended substitute for buttermilk, it really makes the cake moist and helps with the crumb texture!

  3. I made this and wow! I only changed a few things.

    1. instead of dissolving 1 tsp of baking soda in 2 tbsp water to add to the cake batter…I dissolved the baking soda in 2 tbsp of strongly brewed coffee.

    2. Instead of dissolving 2 tsp of instant coffee in 2 tbsp milk…I used chocolate milk.

    This was an amazing cake! Very sweet and very decedent. A small slice will more than satisfy.

  4. Hello! I am making this cake for a relatives birthday, but wanted to use 6 inch cake pans instead of 8 inch cake pans.  I was wondering if the consistency of the cakes would be different and/or if I needed to make any changes?  Can’t wait to make this!!  Thank you :)

  5. 3 stars
    This was the driest cake I’ve ever eaten. I was worried after I read some of the reviews, but by that point I’d already made the cake. The cake would be great otherwise, the buttercream and ganache are rich and enjoyable. If I can tweak the recipe to make it more moist I’d definitely make it again.  

  6. 5 stars
    I made this cake for my chocolate coffee loving boyfriend and he loved it! The cake itself was soo good and the frosting was perfect. Thank you so much for a great recipe 

  7. 1 star
    This recipe was a disappointment. Wish I would have read the comments before I made it. Followed directions exactly and even cut the bake time back some but cake was extremely dry. Would not recommend 

  8. 2 stars
    Everything tasted amazing but I’m not pleased with how dense this cake turned out. There needs to be an element of vinegar or some other acidity to balance this out. The baking powder doesn’t have enough to activate the baking soda.