Espresso Banana Bread

February 20, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: After re-discovering The Jumpin' Monkey, coffee and banana smoothie, I've been a believer in the combination of espresso and banana. It's just good. I've had an intense craving for banana bread the past two weeks, but bananas that weren't ripe enough. Ahhhh, the wait. Terrible. But, finally I was able to make banana bread, and I decided to add some espresso to the batter. It's subtle and yummy, and would be particularly good with chocolate chips, if you like chocolate chips in your banana bread, but is also awfully good without. This banana bread recipe is based on Joanne Chang's (I almost always start my baking with a look at how Chang makes something!) and the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, which I believe she got from Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes.fiveandspice

Makes: one 9x5 loaf


  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature (the temp here is important because a cold egg will congeal the oil/butter)
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream, or creme fraiche, or Greek yogurt
  • 2 ounces shot of espresso (or absurdly strong coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso granules
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or melted, unsalted butter)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (whole wheat pastry flour would also work well)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
In This Recipe


  1. Heat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9X5-inch loaf pan. In a medium-large mixing bowl, stir the mashed bananas together with the egg, sour cream, espresso, and vanilla extract, until everything is well combined. Stir in the instant espresso granules (you can omit these if you want, but if you use only brewed espresso, the bread will have a very subtle coffee flavor -- adding instant espresso as well pumps up the coffee flavor. I think it's good both ways.)
  2. Next, stir in the melted oil/butter until it is completely incorporated. Follow this by stirring in the sugar until everything is well mixed.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Dump this mixture into the wet ingredients and stir just until there are no dry streaks left. The batter will still be lumpy. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the oven until a tester inserted into the loaf comes out clean, about one hour.
  4. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the loaf pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edge of the bread and turn it out of the pan. Finish cooling the bread on a cooling rack. I think the flavor of banana bread gets better if you let it sit for a while, but who can help themselves from having at least one piece while it's still warm, right? But, it'll be even better on day two! Accompanied by espresso! Because espresso is good.

More Great Recipes:
Bread|Cake|Banana Bread|Fruit|Sour Cream|Coffee|Make Ahead|Fall|Mother's Day|Spring|Summer|Winter

Reviews (42) Questions (1)

42 Reviews

kitkat February 12, 2017
This was lovely with the addition of a small handful of chocolate chips and a large handful of toasted walnuts. It baked up with wonderfully crisp edges and a moist, almost custard-like center (though it was definitely baked through). The banana, coffee, vanilla, chocolate and coconut play nicely they're having a reunion outside of the tropics. The only problem is that it's nighttime and it's hard to stop eating it!
Freddurf May 2, 2016
Just pulled this out of the oven and it was very tasty. It was moist and delicious! I used the smallest setting on my Kuirig and the espresso flavor came through just fine. This has now replaced my family's banana bread recipe (sorry mom!)
Vera K. January 15, 2016
Made this last night but with the alteration of chai soaked raisins as recommended by Kerry. I didn't have any espresso and it sounded yummy. I also only used 1/3 cup of sugar and it was still very sweet. My co-workers devoured it none the less.
Kerry G. October 18, 2015
This is a great recipe as is. ... BUT...the 7 year old didn't like the coffee taste, and the 12 year old wasn't fussed either way. So I made some changes that would still satisfy the adults. Oh, and btw, does everyone know the trick about roasting whole unpeeled bananas if yours aren't super ripe? brilliant. Changes: 3/4 cup raisins soaked in strong chai tea for one hour, drained and then added to food processor with banana, egg etc...omitted coffee all together, so Used 1/2 cup melted butter plus the greek yog. Used 1/4 brown sugar and 1/2 cup white. In dry, I added 1/2 tsp cardamom, and 1 tbsp cocoa powder. Everybody is very happy!
jenny August 10, 2015
I've made this twice now, it's great and keep moist for days!! I added fresh finely ground espresso directly, and also 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I love cardamom in my coffee!), and the flavour was lovely, not overpowering but definitely there. I also subbed in 1/2 cup coconut flour for the wholeweat. This is now my go-to recipe for banana bread!
jenny July 26, 2015
Yum! I used 1 tbsp of ground espresso which gave a good amount of a coffee hit but not overpowering.... Also used a combo of wholemeal and coconut flour. Very yummy, more dense than my usual recipe for banana bread, in a good way!
Transcendancing October 5, 2014
I really liked how this turned out, although I don't know what caused my beautifully rounded top to flatten so dramatically when I took it out of the oven. I left it in the tin as recommended too, so baffled. The flavour however was gorgeous, I am not a banana fan and I think the only time they become edible is in cake. My housemate on the other hand, loves them and also appreciated the cake (and ate three pieces, which is uncharacteristic of him, so clearly the flattening didn't impact too much). I gave my cake an hour and five minutes, cake tester came out completely clean and dry but interestingly the inside - especially the bottom of the cake was moist and even somewhat gooey - but still seemed to be cooked. Will have to see if this is a feature of this cake or if it was something I did this time around.
Lisanne July 23, 2014
It is in the oven now~ smells fab! We had 4 large bananas, so added another egg, used 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar and 2 cups flour (guesstimated the rest of the ingredients). Used a large scoop to make 6 muffins and the rest went in the pan. We won't have to wait the full hour to get a taste!! Thanks for a new style of banana bread!!
Rebecca July 15, 2014
I am pretty disappointed right now. I just got done making this treat and it just isn't as great as you sold it. I was super excited about it too because I love banana bread and coffee. I used the 2 ounces of espresso and did the granules. Still, you cannot taste even a hint of espresso. Super bummed out. Out of 5 stars, I would give this one a 3 at best.
theflamingwench79 July 13, 2014
I don't like bananas, and this reads like it's yummy. I have plenty of friends that like banana bread, so I will be giving it a whirl for their opinion and to see if, finally, there will be a banana bread that will sway me.
Julie May 8, 2014
I made this with whole wheat pastry flour and Bulgarian yogurt; outstanding. Nice deep, almost savory flavor versus being a sweet bread. Also, very easy to throw together. My husband took half the loaf for breakfast to chow down on during his drive to work.
Lark April 30, 2014
I made your recipe with the extra espresso. This piping hot bread was just the right thing for a dreary, rainy day! The family loved it. Turned out very moist, not too sweet; depth of flavor, without being too coffee-y. A pretty, dark loaf.
Author Comment
fiveandspice May 2, 2014
Glad to hear it!
BraziliAna 7. April 6, 2014
I made gluten free version of this with cup for cup gluten free flour, coconut oil instead of butter, Greek yogurt and dark brown sugar. I used a little more than a tsp. of espresso granules for added flavor. I also added a 1/4 cup of semi sweet mini chocolate morsels and 1/4 cup of walnuts it turned out perfectly not too dry or moist, flavorful and delicious!
Author Comment
fiveandspice May 2, 2014
That's great to know!
lonewolf April 3, 2014
Before the glorious an infinite recipe search the internet affords, I was a cookbook addict. Now I search many sites for the perfect recipe and I have to say Food52 is my new go-to and this recipe is amazing.<br />I always seem to have over ripe bananas in the fridge, and though my roses love them, I usually make cake frosted with mascarpone nutella lusciousness. This recipe is perfection. Absolutely divine! I doubled it to share with my lucky neighbors so I added an extra banana. I also used home made yogurt instead of the sour cream. Next time (and there will be) I'll probably cut back on the sugar. My bananas were really ripe and quite sweet. Often with breakfast bread the rise in the oven is uneven and makes for an unattractive loaf. These developed gloriously.
Author Comment
fiveandspice May 2, 2014
christine March 30, 2014
don't forget... if your bananas aren't ripe: peel them, wrap them in plastic and freeze them for at least 18-24 hrs. you can place the unpeeled banana in the freezer but i like this pre-peeled convenience. this method is good if brown-spotted-nearly ripe bananas are on sale and you can't use them immediately. ( i have not tried this recipe, however it lokks pretty good, i have a 1950's favorite.)
Ryan O. March 7, 2014
I love that you used Joanna Chang's base recipe. I was actually planning on cross comparing them, because I think she has killer baking recipes-- but then I read the intro, and you already did! Looks amazing. Do you notice much difference alternating between butter and oil in a banana bread recipe? I love the flavor of butter-- just didn't know if the finished texture was different. Also, why one egg vs. two in Chang's recipe? Thanks!
Author Comment
fiveandspice March 8, 2014
It's a cross between Chang's recipe and one from Smitten Kitchen, which is why there are some definite differences from Chang's. And I made some tweaks to integrate the espresso. So it would still be worth comparing! The texture butter gives is different. I find oil gives a tighter, moister crumb, which I like. But I prefer butter's flavor as well, and most vegetable oil (ie. corn, soy, and canola oils) are particularly unhealthy, so I shy away from them. Using melted butter and making sure all your ingredients are at room temp. helps simulate the moistness you get from oil, I find.
Brenda April 22, 2018
There's a new kid in town in the "oil section" of my pantry. Avocado Oil. I use it in baking and find it as adaptable as canola....but much healthier.
helena March 6, 2014
I followed everything to a T and I ended up with a banana bread that I found to be kind of bland. I've made many delicious banana breads in the past and I'm not quite sure what happened this time around.
Author Comment
fiveandspice March 8, 2014
Hmm, that's funny. I have had that happen to me before though, actually with banana bread recipes - the same recipe can even turn out different different times. I wonder if it's variability in bananas? and banana ripeness maybe - overripe are the best.
Katie Z. March 2, 2014
Made this last night with a double shot of espresso from the coffee shop around the corner, and got a free espresso out of it this morning from the owner. Everyone loved it! Both the espresso and the banana flavors shined beautifully. Definitely going into my banana bread rotation! I meant to sprinkle turbinado sugar on top before baking, but forgot- next time!
Author Comment
fiveandspice March 2, 2014
Yay! Glad you liked it!
Pisanella April 9, 2014
Juliana March 2, 2014
Is it ok to omit the sour cream?
Author Comment
fiveandspice March 2, 2014
It should work. The sour cream adds a little special richness, but I don't think it's 100% necessary.
kris March 2, 2014
the recipe looks lovely and i'm making this today. question - in the unexpanded version of the recipe, it calls for 1/4 cups of sugar, but in the detailed version it says 3/4. which one is correct? thanks!
Author Comment
fiveandspice March 2, 2014
The 3/4 cup measure is right. The other one is a typo. I'll see if that can get fixed.