Japanese coffee jelly is a delicious treat that features a coffee flavor and fun jiggly jello consistency. While it may seem intimidating to make at home, most Japanese coffee jelly recipe listings only require a few steps and a handful of ingredients. If you're curious about learning how to make Japanese coffee jelly at home, you can follow the steps listed below so you can eat coffee jelly in no time.
What is Japanese Coffee Jelly?
This tasty dessert is a way of enjoying coffee but in gelatin form. It has a bold coffee flavor that many adults (especially coffee lovers) lean toward. Expect a chewy, bouncy texture and a slightly bitter coffee taste that helps even out the sweetness from the whipped cream. It does have some caffeine, though it's less than what you'd find in a shot of espresso.
Typically, you'll see it in the form of coffee jelly cubes or in the shape of the glass it's in, topped with fresh whipped cream in a glass bowl or cup. It's easy to find this coffee jelly mixture at a Japanese coffee shop chain, restaurants, and cafes in Japan, as jelly snacks are quite popular there. Many spots also serve coffee jelly with other toppings like condensed milk, fresh cream, or even coffee creamer on top of the coffee jelly mixture.
What is Japanese Coffee Jelly Made Of?
Japanese coffee jelly typically has four ingredients - coffee, gelatin or kanten powder, water, and sugar. If you want to make the recipe vegetarian-friendly, use kanten or agar powder instead of gelatin. As mentioned, the toppings vary for Japanese coffee jelly depending on where you purchase it and your preferences.
Why is Coffee Jelly Popular in Japan?
Japan is known as one of the major coffee consumers in the world, so coffee-flavored items are already likely to be popular in the country. As mentioned, jelly items are also loved in Japanese food culture. With the creamy, rich milky consistency and slightly bitter, slightly sweet taste, it's no wonder this dessert is on so many restaurant and coffee shop menus in Japan.
Japanese Coffee Jelly Origins
Surprisingly, this Japanese coffee treat is not a new invention. It has been around since the early 19th century and was first seen in Britain in a cookbook. This early version was made with gelatin and coffee only.
From Britain, coffee jelly made its way to America, appearing on cafe dessert menus in New England. By this point, it was quite similar to the Japanese version, as it was served with a large dollop of whipped cream.
This jelly dessert finally reached Japan in the early 1900s during the Taisho period. Though it did not become popular until the 1960s when Mikado Coffee in Tokyo introduced it to their menu and marketed it as coffee you could eat. It remains a delicious dessert option to enjoy on particularly warm days to cool off.
Japanese coffee jelly saw a resurgence in popularity in 2016 after Starbucks launched its coffee jelly frappuccino.
Easy Japanese Coffee Jelly Recipe
Without further ado, here is an easy Japanese coffee jelly dessert recipe you can make with items you likely already have in your pantry! You'll only need four ingredients to start making Japanese coffee jelly - freshly brewed coffee (or instant coffee), kanten powder, water, sugar, and whipped cream (or topping of choice).
- Bring water and the gelatin powder (or kanten powder) to a boil on medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, add the sugar and instant coffee.
- Remove the mixture from the stove and allow it to cool slightly (about five minutes).
- Grease an 8" x 8" pan with nonstick cooking spray as the mixture cools.
- Then, carefully pour the coffee jelly liquid into the pan.
- Once the jelly has cooled more, wrap it with plastic and refrigerate for about five hours.
- After the jelly has set, you can create cubes with a knife.
- Find a glass jar or cup, put a few jelly cubes into it, and serve with toppings of choice.
Note: If you grease it first, the jelly should come out easily from the pan. If you forget to grease the pan, you'll likely have to scrape the jello out and may have non uniform pieces.
Tip - Use a whisk to continuously stir as the gelatin and water heat, you can avoid clumpy bits in your coffee jelly.
What Do You Serve Coffee Jelly With?
As mentioned, there are many ways you can enjoy coffee jelly. If you want to mix it up, you can cut the cubes into smaller pieces and turn them into a bubble tea-like drink with milk tea or coffee-flavored desserts, like tiramisu.
Is Coffee Jelly Healthy?
The base of coffee jelly is relatively healthy, especially since the amount of sugar is quite low. Gelatin has many benefits since it contains proteins and antioxidants. These proteins and antioxidants can help with joint/bone health and digestion. Coffee can help boost your energy and increase how mentally alert you are. It also has antioxidants in it.
The problem with certain Japanese coffee jelly recipes and restaurant offerings is the toppings. Options like creamer and sweetened condensed milk have quite a bit of sugar. It's best to enjoy coffee jelly in moderation, regardless of the toppings you choose.
Is Coffee Jelly Vegan?
In some recipes, coffee jelly is vegan-friendly, but not all. The base will be vegan if you use kanten or agar powder instead of powdered gelatin. Kanten and agar powder are made from algae instead of animals (like gelatin). Additionally, there are vegan/dairy-free alternatives for whipped cream, coffee creamer, and condensed milk to help make this dessert fully vegan.
If you're curious about additional jelly food items, Bokksu has a monthly Japanese subscription service featuring a mixture of sweet and savory snacks. These snacks include options like mochi, gummy candies, and fun fruity jellies. Try mixing these tasty treats with homemade coffee jelly and a drink for an afternoon pick-me-up.