Food, Recipes

Coffee Jelly

If you ever need a quick dessert to serve for friends coming over or just for yourself, this is a great little caffeine fix in the form a super delicious dessert. This is incredibly easy to make and make sure not to skip the sweetened heavy cream — it makes this dessert much more luxurious. Unless, of course, you are making this as a topping for homemade milk tea, making it even more delectable.

After a few trial and errors, this being my first time using agar agar powder, I have found the right measurements. First attempt came out grainy from undissolved agar agar powder, simply because I did not boil long enough. Second attempt I used way too much agar agar powder (tip: don’t use 1 ½ tsp for this recipe) and it came out so firm that I was able to bounce a cube off the table. Third attempt it came out perfect, and I’ve been using these measurements ever since.

Agar agar is a popular vegetarian alternative to gelatine, since gelatine is a product derived from various animal collagen (skin, bones, etc…); Agar agar is seaweed (specifically red algae). While I am not a vegetarian, Japanese usually use Kanten (aka Agar agar) when making coffee jelly and other desserts, which is why I only use agar agar for this jelly. You can substitute Agar agar with unflavored gelatine, but I have never tried it with gelatine so I don’t know what the conversion is. One thing to note about agar agar is that there might be slight differences in how much to use when using different brands. Just adjust the measurement slightly (by 1/4 tsp) the next time you make it. The recipe below is what I use when using the Telephone brand (found at Uwajimaya store). Also, make sure you buy powder, not flakes or other forms, as I’ve read that powder is easiest and fastest to dissolve. Make sure the ingredients list only “agar-agar” and no added sugar or other ingredients.

A good rule of thumb for the coffee: bad coffee will make bad coffee jelly. So make sure you are using good tasting coffee that you would drink. While you can make freshly brewed coffee, I prefer the quick way and not break out my entire coffee machine. I’ve made this with cold brew coffee that was prepared at home (using Dunkin Donuts Cold Brew Coffee packs), which brews overnight in the refrigerator and we had some on hand at the time. The easiest, most delicious option that is now my go-to coffee for this recipe is Starbucks Unsweetened Iced Coffee (you can get a 48 oz jug at any regular grocery store in the refrigerated juice section). Perhaps this is cheating, but as long as it’s good tasting coffee, I don’t really care how the coffee is prepared. Everyone that has tried this, has loved it. Absolutely no bitter tannin taste.

Sometimes I forget this is just a gelatinized form of a cup of coffee when the sweetened cream on top makes this a divine dessert, and then I continue to eat 3 of these and then get major caffeine jitters an hour later. Try out the recipe and let me know how you like it in the comments!

Note: Products and links listed on this post are products that I personally purchased and use. I am not associated with nor do I get any compensation with the products or links listed.

Coffee Jelly

Japanese coffee jelly with sweetened cream makes a divine and incredibly easy dessert.
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 6
Calories 67


  • 2 cups Coffee, (or 2 TBLS instant coffee + 2 cups boiling water or 2 packs of individual pour-over drip coffee with 2 cups boiling water or 2 cups of previously prepared coffee, see note below) *
  • ¾ tsp Agar agar powder, ** (make sure ingredient list only “agar agar” and no added sugar or other ingredients)
  • 3 TBLS granulated white sugar, adjust to taste
  • ½ cup Heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ TBLS powdered sugar (for cream), adjust to taste


  • Pour coffee into a small sauce pan and add the powdered agar agar.
  • Turn the heat on and bring to a boil. Keep an eye on it, since it can boil over and overflow pretty quickly. Once boiling, set a timer for 2 minutes. Keep stirring to get any settled agar on the bottom of the pot. Tip: If your stirring spoon or the sides of the pot above the liquid looks grainy, then you may need to boil for another minute or so for all of the agar agar powder to dissolve.
  • Add in 3 TBLS of sugar and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for 2 more minutes. Taste and adjust accordingly
  • Pour into individual glasses or into a quarter sheet baking pan or square baking pan. Let it rest at room temperature until it is no longer hot. At this point, the jelly will most likely have gelatinized.
  • In a small bowl, combine heavy whipping cream with powdered sugar and lightly whisk just to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • If serving from individual glasses, place in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, top with some sweetened heavy cream. Tastes best when served chilled.
    If using as a topping for milk tea and had poured into a quarter sheet or square baking pan, use a butter knife or a plastic knife to cut directly in the pan into tiny cubes (size will depend on how big your straws are) and transfer cubes to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Scoop some into the cup first before pouring in milk tea. 

Recipe Notes

  • * Coffee: For ease, reliability, and fantastic flavor, I prefer to use prepared store-bought coffee or cold brew made at home. You can buy a 48 oz jug of Starbucks Unsweetened Medium Roast Iced Coffee at basically any typical grocery store (this is my go-to coffee for this jelly with no bitter tannin taste at all). To make cold brew at home, you need to make it in advanced since it brews overnight in the refrigerator. I’ve used Dunkin Donuts Cold Brew Coffee packs. Whether fresh, hot brewed coffee, or store-bought prepared coffee, whatever coffee you decide to use, just make sure that it tastes good. Bad coffee will make bad coffee jelly.
  • ** Agar-Agar: Japanese usually use Kanten (aka Agar agar). Agar Agar is a seaweed (specifically red algae) gelling agent. It’s a vegetarian substitute for gelatin. Whole Foods should carry this near the seaweed section. Vitamin shops might have them. I buy mine from Uwajimaya (Telephone brand). Make sure to use powder, not flakes. Powder dissolves easier than other forms. Follow directions closely, if it comes out grainy, the agar agar powder was not fully dissolved. I have not tried this with gelatin, so I am not sure of the conversion measurements. Agar Agar does not need to be refrigerated to fully set, unlike gelatine.
  • Firmness: ¾ tsp for 2 cups of liquid is perfect for eating with a spoon from an individual dish or for sipping through a straw with milk tea. For a more solid jelly to eat with fingers, use 1 tsp. I would not suggest using 1 ½ tsp of agar agar with 2 cups liquid, unless you want super firm jelly that can bounce off the table.

Tried this recipe?
Mention @_thelittleruby. Also, rate and comment below!

Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.