Espresso Shot Cold Process Tutorial

It’s no secret that the Pacific Northwest is the coffee capital of the world. There’s a coffee shop on every corner (sometimes two!), and a never-ending thirst for the latest and greatest new drink. The passion for coffee spills over into passion for soapmaking, so when we brought in the brand new Espresso Fragrance Oil, we went to work designing the most coffee-tastic soap we could.

The Espresso Fragrance Oil is a true espresso scent. Whereas Turkish Mocha has hints of sweetness and cream and Chocolate Espresso Cybilla is brimming with chocolate-y goodness, Espresso is for the coffee purist. Along with a recipe that includes Coffee Butter, Cocoa Butter, Hazelnut Oil and real coffee grounds, this is the ultimate soap for coffee lovers everywhere.

What You’ll Need:

5.5 oz. Cocoa Butter

13.7 oz. Coconut Oil

2.7 oz. Coffee Butter

2.7 oz. Hazelnut Oil

16.5 oz. Olive Oil

13.7 oz. Palm Oil

7.7 oz. Sodium Hydroxide

18.1 oz. distilled water

Brown Oxide

Titanium Dioxide

3.5 oz. Espresso Fragrance Oil

Multi-Pour Sectioning Tool

5 lb. Wood Log Mold with Slide Bottom and Silicone Liner

3 tbsp. coffee grounds

Click here to add everything you need for this project (except the coffee grounds) to your Bramble Berry shopping cart!

If you’ve never made Cold Process soap before, stop here! I highly recommend checking out our FREE four part series on Cold Process Soapmaking, especially the episode on lye safety. And if you’d rather do some reading, Bramble Berry carries a wide range of books on the topic, including my newest book, Soap Crafting. You can also checkout the digital downloads for that instant gratification factor.

SAFETY FIRST: Suit up for safe handling practices! That means goggles, gloves and long sleeves. Make sure kids, pets, and other distractions and tripping hazards are out of the house or don’t have access to your soaping space. Always soap in a well-ventilated area.

COLOR PREP: To ensure that the Titanium Dioxide blends smoothly into the soap batter, we recommend micronizing it before dispersing it in oil. To micronize colorant, simply use a coffee grinder to blend the colorant to break up any clumps of color and prevent streaks of white from showing in the final soap. We like to use a coffee grinder that has a removable, stainless steel mixing area for easy cleaning. Then, disperse 1 teaspoon of the colorant into 1 tablespoon of Sunflower or Sweet Almond Oil (or any other liquid oil). Then, disperse 1 teaspoon Brown oxide into 1 tablespoon of light liquid oil. Use a mini mixer to get the clumps of color worked out smoothly.

COFFEE GROUNDS: You can use either dry or used coffee grounds for this project. If you do use dry grounds like we did, be aware that they may “bleed” and form a small halo of color around them. If you don’t want the halo effect, make yourself a pot of joe and use the leftover grounds!

ONE: Slowly and carefully add the lye to the water and gently stir until the lye has fully dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside to cool.

TWO: Combine the Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Coffee Butter, Hazelnut Oil, Olive Oil and Palm oils (remember to fully melt then mix your entire container of Palm Oil before portioning). Once the lye water and the oils have cooled to 130 degrees or below (and are ideally within 10 degrees of each other), add the lye water to the oils and stick blend until thin trace. If you’d like a harder bar of soap that releases faster from the mold, you can add Sodium Lactate to the cooled lye water. Use 1 teaspoon of Sodium Lactate per pound of oils in the recipe. For this recipe, you’d add about 3 tsp. Sodium Lactate.

THREE: Once the batter has reached a light trace, pour 3 cups of the soap batter into a separate container.

FOUR: Add 1 tbs. of coffee grounds into the small container, and 2 tbs. of coffee grounds into the larger container. Use a whisk to gently combine.

FIVE: Add 3 tps. of the dispersed Titanium Dioxide into the large container. Use a whisk to mix in.

SIX: Add 3 tps. dispersed Brown Oxide to the small container, and use a whisk to thoroughly combine.

SEVEN: Add half of the Espresso Fragrance Oil to the small container, and half to the large container. You can eyeball it, but if you want to be exact then add 1.7 oz. of fragrance to each container. Use a whisk to mix in.

EIGHT: Gently pour the brown soap into the center of the Multi-Pour Sectioning Tool. To help the soap batter evenly spread throughout the middle section, you can alternate pouring from each end.

NINE: Once the center section is full, pour the white batter into the outside sections.

TEN: Pour slowly, and alternate pouring into different ends to evenly disperse the batter in the Multi-Pour Sectioning Tool.

 ELEVEN: Once all sections are full, slowly remove the center piece straight up out of the soap. Set aside.

TWELVE: Slowly pull the long center dividers straight up, and set aside.

THIRTEEN: Pull the small end liners straight out, and set aside.

FOURTEEN: Once all the pieces have been removed, tap the soap mold firmly on the table to smooth out the sections and release any air bubbles. Beginning in the corner of the mold, insert a wooden chopstick or dowel to the bottom of the mold and make a zig-zag pattern at a 45 degree angle down the length of the mold. 

FIFTEEN: Once you have created the zig-zag down the length of the mold once, it’s time to go back and do it again! Starting on the opposite corner on the same end of the mold you began with the first time, use your chopstick or dowel to cross through the existing lines, creating an argyle-like pattern.

SIXTEEN: Gently place whole coffee beans in the center of each swirl. Spray with 99% isopropyl alcohol to prevent soda ash.

SEVENTEEN: Allow the soap to sit in the mold for 3-4 days before unmolding. Cut soap between the coffee beans, so they are in the center of each bar. Allow the soap to cure for 4-6 weeks and enjoy!

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  1. Marie says

    This was my very first time making cp soap and I’m pretty happy with the results excepted for one little thing. My soap is a little crumbly but not too bad. I used frozen coffee instead of water and put the soap in the freezer. Could the freezer be the culprit?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Marie!

      How long did you wait before cutting that soap? If the soap is too firm, it can be a bit crumbly when cutting. We usually recommend letting the soap sit 3-4 days before cutting. It can also happen if too much sodium lactate is used. Did you add any sodium lactate, and if so, how much?

      It may also be lye heavy. To check for lye heaviness, tap a bar on your tongue. If it “zaps” you, that means it’s lye heavy. You can also use pH strips or cabbage juice to check for lye heaviness. Find out how to do that here:

      If it isn’t lye heavy, that soap is just fine to use! If it is, you can use your soap to make laundry soap!

      Three DIY Laundry Soap Recipes:

      Let me know and we’ll get this figured out! :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • Marie says

        I cut the soap the day after I made it so 24 hours (ish). I did use sodium lactate – 1 tsp. however I put it in at trace. That was my fault for not reading the instruction on sodium lactate. I did the zap test and no zap. I ran the recipe through the lye calc. This is the recipe I used:
        Cocoa Butter 1.27oz 10.56%
        Coconut Oil (76 Degrees) 3.16oz 26.30%
        Mango Butter 0.62oz 5.18%
        Olive Oil (Pomace) 3.80oz 31.67%
        Palm Oil 3.16oz 26.30%
        Lye 1.7oz
        liquid 4.0oz
        It’s been curing for about 6 days now and it doesn’t seem to be as crumbly. I does have a hint of lye smell to it. I don’t know what I did. Should I play it safe and use it as laundry soap? I wanted to use it as a basic kitchen soap. Thank you for all your help! I just wanted to make some soap.

        • Kelsey says

          Hi Marie!

          We recommend about 1 tsp. of sodium lactate per pound of oils, so you used the exact right amount! I don’t think that sodium lactate was the culprit.

          I’m wondering if the soap was just a bit soft. That can create drag marks, or the soap may want to fall apart. Did the soap feel soft to the touch, or did it want to stick to the mold? If so, you can let it sit a couple more days in the mold until it’s firm to the touch. Waiting is definitely hard to do (I know, I’m very impatient), but will give you nice smooth cuts. :)

          I would recommend zap testing it again over the next couple days. If it’s not zapping you, your soap will be absolutely fine to use! It will feel great on your skin.

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  2. S Scruggs says

    I need some help and I’m not really sure where to post it. I made a variation of this soap using a simple soap recipe of equal parts rice bran oil, vegetable shortening, coconut oil, and sunflower oil. I mixed the coffee with the lye and let it cool. I made this soap twice and each time the soap basically exploded out of the mold. Do you know why? The first time I thought maybe it was too hot so the second time I tried to make it, I popped it into the freezer as soon as I molded it and when I just looked, it had done the same thing :(

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Jan!

      You can absolutely use coffee instead of water! I would recommend freezing the coffee into cubes before adding the lye. If you add the lye to warm or hot coffee, it can boil over.

      Also, the lye and coffee mixture does have a pretty strong smell and a dark color. The smell will fade in cold process soap, but the color will make your soap a little darker. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • Adrianne says

        Quick question regarding using brewed coffee in soap, as I’m planning to make a coffee soap (probably just using quick mix though): Why do you need to freeze the coffee? I thought freezing things like milk etc. was because of the sugars potentially caramelizing with the heat from the lye. Does brewed coffee have sugars in it that could overheat?
        Also, in my research I’ve read about “split batch,” where you use less water with the lye, and replace the missing water with something else (beer, coffee) in the oil mixture before adding the lye water. This way, you don’t need to use the freezing method. I’ve not done this though. I’d really like to try using alternative liquids, and am trying to figure out the best and simplest way to do it!
        Thanks! Love the tutorial!

        • Kelsey says

          Hi Adrianne!

          That’s a great question! You want to freeze products like milk to prevent the natural fats and sugars from scorching. With coffee, it’s more for the smell and the color. When the lye is added to coffee, it heats it up really quickly. This discolors the coffee and creates an unpleasant smell. Freezing the coffee beforehand helps prevent some of that discoloration and smell. :)

          You can definitely use a combination of distilled water and coffee if you like! It requires a little bit less prep beforehand, and you still get to use a fun alternative liquid. You can split it half and half, or use more water or coffee. Whichever you prefer. In that case, I would still recommend cooling the coffee in the fridge beforehand for the same reason – preventing the smell and discoloration slightly.

          Find out how much liquid to use with our Lye Calculator:

          The Lye Calculator will give you an amount of liquid. You can mix anyway you like, as long as it adds up to that number. :)

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  3. Marcel Achtenhagen says

    This is an awesome recipe, and when I tried it, I followed the directions to the letter and as my soap was curing in the mold small cracks started to form. I oly sprayed one with alcohol and did not over due it. I also did not soap hot. Im not sure why this happened. Im assuming the caffeine in the coffee powder dried out the soap? Please help Brambleberry :)

    Kind regards,

    SandCastle Soaps

  4. Am says

    Well i love this recipe but i was wondering if i could use almond oil instead of hazelnut oil?
    i just ordered 7lbs of almond oil and i dont really want to order hazelnut oil because it does have a short shelf life as others have stated.

    • says

      Hi Am!

      You could certainly incorporate the Sweet Almond Oil into your recipe. You can go ahead and replace the Hazelnut Oil, just make sure to run the recipe through the lye calculator to make sure you have the correct amount of lye and water :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  5. Mary Young says

    Well folks I got my order in today from BB for this project. My house smells AMAZING since I made it. My questions are as follows..

    1. How would I have kept my lighter bigger batch more fluid as I used the darker batch? It got very hard very fast and I actually had to spoon it into the mold…

    2 Which brings me to a question about the mold.. how do I keep the sides from falling in so I can pour or spoon my mixture in? I am very new to this mold.. 1st time using it so it was way up there on the difficult scale for me.

    My soap is in the mold.. set aside for a few days before I unmold it. I have to say the smell is just amazing. Unfortunately my soap isn’t going to look anything like the pics here but I hope it’s good enough to be usable.. different is pretty too so I don’t worry much about looking exactly like the pics.. I just need to get that pouring in that mold down better! LOL

    Thanks for such a great project and I will be doing a lot more with that coffee butter and the espresso scent! LOVE IT!!

    • says

      Hi Mary

      I’m so glad that you gave this project a try :). Initially, we brought our soap to a light trace. We did this because we knew the soap was going to experience extra stirring with the coffee grounds, colorant and fragrance.

      Adding the fragrance oil also helps keep your soap from getting too thick. Fragrance oil speeds up trace more than any other additive, so we always add it in very last. We also avoid stick blending after our soap has reached trace, in order to keep it liquid for longer. Because of this, I recommend using a whisk to stir in the coffee grounds, colorants and fragrance :).

      Another tip to keep the bigger batch more fluid as you use the darker batch, is to add the fragrance at different times. I would recommend adding the fragrance right before pouring :)

      Regarding the sides of the mold, are you referring to the silicone liner? If you find the silicone liner is dropping in a little bit, we like to actually tape ours to the sides :). If you are referencing the multi-pour sectioning tool, the center piece actually helps keep the sections from falling.

      I hope this helps, let me know if you have any more questions!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  6. says

    Wow, that soap looks great! I’ve never used coffee grounds in soap before, but I hear that it is a nice addition and a wonderful exfoliant. I should give this project a try – I’ve even got some dividers like those to make that pretty swirl! Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Kristine Adam says

    Is there a recommended substitute for Hazelnut Oil? Because of it’s short shelf life I’m loathe to buy a pound only to use a few ounces. Love the concept behind this soap, though!

    • says

      Hi Margaret!

      You will love the Espresso Fragrance Oil! I agree, the Turkish Mocha is great, but it’s so nice to have a new coffee option that is not as sweet :) I seriously could smell coffee scents all day long!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry


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