There are many coffee-based desserts you can try, but coffee jelly is one of the more unusual and least well-known in the US. In fact, so rare is it to see the dessert that unless you have been to Japan, you may not have even been aware of its existence.
That’s a shame because coffee jelly can be a refreshing and delicious dessert. Not only that, but it is quite simple to make at home to either enjoy yourself or impress guests.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what coffee jelly is, where it came from and how you can try it yourself.
Japanese Coffee Jelly Recipe
- Large shallow bowl (Or a few small bowls)
- Spoon or whisk
- Plastic wrap
- 1 packet Gelatin powder I use Knox in this recipe
- 2 cups coffee makes with 4g of instand coffee
- 1 tbsp sugar optional
- Canned sweetened cream
- Make 2 cups of instant coffee, adding 3/4 cup to a saucepan and leave 1/4 cup.
- Dissolve a packet of gelatin in the remaining coffee, whisk gently, and let bloom for a minute.
- Heat the saucepan coffee and add the gelatin coffee, whisking until combined.
- Bring the coffee mixture to a rolling boil on medium-low heat, then let sit for five minutes off heat.
- Spoon and strain the mixture into bowls to remove bubbles.
- Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours.
- Cut into coffee jelly cubes, top with canned sweet cream or sweetened condensed milk, and serve.
- You can mix a small amount of gelatin and water in a bowl before adding them to the coffee mixture to dissolve the gelatin powder more easily.
- Remove the bubbles before putting them into the fridge to get a smoother jelly.
- For a thicker jelly and a more rapid setting, try agar agar powder in place of gelatin. Agar agar is more traditionally used in Japanese cooking and is derived from seaweed.
What Is Japanese Coffee Jelly?
Coffee jelly is a dessert that is popular in Japan and available in many of its cafes and restaurants. The treat is made from coffee, sugar, gelatin and often topped with whipped cream, and you can make it from scratch or buy it from a kit available in the country’s convenience stores.
Perhaps surprisingly, coffee jelly is over 200 years old and was first found in British cookbooks as early as 1817.  Those early recipes involved mixing coffee with calves’ foot jelly, but it was later promoted using gelatin. Following a launch of a gelatin mix coffee jelly in 1918 by Jell-O, it failed to gain widespread traction in the US. However, it can still be found in New England.
In the 1920s, Western tastes, including coffee jelly, became popular in Japan, which is still enjoyed there today.
The coffee jelly dessert is relatively versatile, too, and can be served with sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream, or ice cubes.
Coffee Jelly From The Disastrous Life Of Saiki K
Popular Japanese anime The Disastrous Life Of Saiki K features a main character who loves coffee jelly. In the series, the character spends a lot of time eating sweet treats with coffee jelly, his favorite. The popularity of the show helped raise the profile of the dessert in Japan and helped introduce it to a more mainstream consumer base beyond the Far East.
In the series, the character enjoys the jelly with a dollop of whipped cream on top. While it may be difficult to buy coffee jelly outside Japan, it is easy to replicate the recipe made popular by the series.
Coffee Jelly Ingredients
Making coffee Jelly at home is straightforward, and you can do it using instant coffee or, for a more delicate variety, using freshly brewed coffee.
Quick Recipe Using Instant Coffee
- One packet of gelatin powder
- Two cups of coffee (made with instant coffee or canned coffee)
- Canned sweetened cream
- Shallow bowl (Or a few small bowls)
- Plastic wrap
Make 2 cups of instant coffee and add 3/4 cup of the mixture to a saucepan. Leave 1/4 in the cup.
Dissolve one packet of gelatin into the remaining coffee and gently whisk it to ensure it is dissolved. Let it bloom for about 1 min.
Heat the coffee in the saucepan on a stove. Add the gelatin coffee mixture to the saucepan. Whisk until incorporated.
Heat the coffee mixture to a rolling boil on medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for five minutes.
Spoon the mixture into serving bowls, and better filter the liquid with a fine sieve to remove the bubbles.
Cover the bowls in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of three hours.
Make coffee jelly cubes, add milk and your favorite syrup and enjoy!
Or you can squirt some of the canned sweetened cream or sweetened condensed milk on the top and enjoy.
A More Delicate Coffee Jelly – Espresso-Based
For a more delicate coffee jelly, you can pull a strong espresso and make Americano for the base rather than instant coffee. This will add excellent flavor to the dessert.
- Two double shots of espresso
- 8oz of hot water
- Knox gelatin, agar agar or kanten powder
- Canned sweetened cream
- Espresso machine
- Large bowl
- Electric whisk for making homemade whipped cream
Using an espresso machine, pull two double shots of espresso, or around 4oz.
Add your freshly brewed espresso to 8 to 10oz of hot water to make Americano.
Add a packet of unflavoured gelatin to your Americano.
Gently stir the coffee mixture. Bring it to boil and transfer them into the bowls. Chill them in the fridge for 3 hours.
Use canned sweetened cream, or make your homemade version by whisking heavy cream and sugar into stiff peaks.
Garnish the coffee Jelly with whipped cream by squeezing the cream on top from a pastry bag around the coffee jelly.
What Does Coffee Jelly Taste Like?
Coffee jelly makes an excellent summer dessert that’s both refreshing and satisfying. It’s creamy and sweet with hints of bitterness. Meanwhile, the texture is chewy and bouncy. Meanwhile, regardless of whether you’re using instant coffee or espresso, it will have an unmistakable coffee taste. However, opting for the second recipe will be more delicate.
The jelly will be slightly different texturally if you use agar agar powder. It will be less bouncy, more firm, and will also almost crumble in your mouth rather than dissolve. We suggest trying both to determine which is best suited to your tastes.
Coffee jelly may not be common in Western society, but it is easy to make, so there’s no reason why you can’t offer it as a delicious alternative to more common coffee-based treats.
Not only that, but because it doesn’t use much sugar, and coffee and gelatin each have health benefits , you can also enjoy coffee jelly without the feelings of guilt that some of the desserts bring.
As with many coffee recipes, there is no strict way to make the dessert, and it can be enjoyed using instant coffee or Americano for a slightly more delicate option.
Whether you use gelatin, agar agar powder, instant coffee or Americano, we’re confident that before long, it may well become a new favorite dessert to add to your list.
Coffee jelly will keep well for around two to three days in the fridge. Beyond that, you run the risk of it becoming slimier and losing its distinctive gelatin texture. It will still be safe to eat but will not be nearly as tasty or appealing.
As long as you enjoy it in moderation, coffee jelly is a nutritious dessert or snack and certainly one of the healthier options. The recipes we’ve discussed contain a small amount of sugar. However, both coffee and gelatin have numerous health benefits. For instance, coffee contains essential nutrients, while the collagen found in gelatin can help the skin, hair and joints. Not only that but both ingredients are known for improving cognitive function, so they could also benefit your brain.
Jelly powder is also known as gulaman or agar agar, a plant-based powder usually derived from seaweed. It needs to be boiled to set, but it can do so even at room temperature. It will also set far more rapidly than gelatin, in around one hour instead of three.
Powdered gelatin is derived from animal collagen from skin and bones. The substance needs to be dissolved in warm or hot liquid to set. Usually, gelatin powder needs to be refrigerated for it to set, which can take several hours, depending on the other ingredients in the dish.
- Coffee Jelly Is The Dessert That Just Won’t Die – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/coffee-jelly-history_us_57e14b67e4b0071a6e098066
- Health Benefits of Gelatin – https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-gelatin