Wibbly wobbly and utterly wonderful! This Japanese coffee jelly dessert is simple to make and uses just four ingredients.
Coffee jelly ingredients
- Powdered gelatine
- Black coffee
- Caster sugar
- Whipped cream (to serve)
What is coffee jelly?
Japanese coffee jelly is an easy dessert made from black coffee and powdered gelatine. It’s been popular in Japan for around half a century and offers the perfect finale to a heavy meal… or any meal!
Make this coffee jelly recipe, and you’ll have some caffeinated cubes of nostalgia. We all remember the classic jelly-and-ice-cream combo from childhood parties. Served in a paper bowl? Probably. Topped with a fan wafer or two? Most definitely. Treat someone to jelly and you’re sure to get a smile.
Think of these Japanese coffee jelly cubes as jelly and ice cream’s sophisticated cousin. The fresh coffee adds a beautiful flavour and grown-up caffeine kick, while soft pillows of lightly whipped cream replace the sweet scoop of soft-serve the adults gave you as a kid. A thing of beauty? We think so.
Where did coffee jelly come from?
Dutch residents first introduced coffee to Nagasaki, Japan, in the early 18th century. It wasn’t a huge hit; Japanese locals thought it tasted bitter and burnt. Japan’s first coffee shop opened in 1888 in Ueno, Tokyo, but closed after just a few years. Uh ohh…
Coffee didn’t get the go-ahead in Japan until the 1960s, when the Japanese economy picked up post-war and coffee became easier to come by. A Japanese chain café first made awesome coffee jelly around the same time, and it quickly became popular with the now-caffeine loving locals. Today, you’ll find coffee jelly, or kohii zerii as it’s called in Japan, on restaurant menus and shop shelves throughout the country.
And did you know that Japanese coffee jelly became ultra now when ‘The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.’ began featuring it in their episodes? The hero of this Netflix anima series can’t get enough of this jiggly dessert. True coffee jelly, Saiki says, “is a true delicacy that puts the store-bought variety to shame”. So if you want to learn how to make proper coffee jelly from The Disastrous Life of Saiki K., keep reading!
Coffee jelly is simple to make
Using gelatine can sound scary. It makes us think of rubbery set custards (too much gelatine) and watery mousses (too little). However, gelatine is actually nice and easy to use. You just need to make sure you use the right amount of gelatine to liquid. As a general rule, 1 tbsp of powdered gelatine will set 570ml of liquid. Looking for a vegan coffee jelly recipe? Make your wibbly wobbly treat with agar agar instead.
How do I eat coffee jelly?
Saiki likes his coffee jelly with some swirls of whipped cream, and that’s how we’ve served it here. However, you can also eat your coffee jelly with ice cream, condensed milk or dairy-free cream. These caffeinated cubes are delicious dropped into an iced latte or homemade frappe, too – kind of like bubble tea, coffee style!
We’re fond of the cubes’ retro vibes, but you can also pour the jelly mixture into individual dishes or ramekins for a quick, pre-portioned dessert.
Good news coming up… coffee jelly is a relatively healthy dessert, providing you swirl your cream sparingly!
How do I store coffee jelly?
To store leftover coffee jelly, pop the cubes in an airtight container. They will stay fresh in the fridge for up to two days.
How to make Japanese Coffee Jelly
- 1 tbsp powdered gelatine
- 60ml water
- 470ml strongly brewed black coffee
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- Whipped cream, to serve
Measure the water into a bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Stir briskly until combined.
Put the brewed coffee and sugar in a pan and pop it over a medium heat until just boiling.
Remove from the heat. Add the gelatine mixture to the coffee mixture and whisk until it has all dissolved. Leave to cool for about 15 minutes.
Pour the jelly mixture into a baking dish and pop it in the fridge until set. This will take about five hours.
Remove from the fridge when set and cut into cubes. Serve with some softly whipped cream.