Ok, hold the press, I’m going to say this is my favourite panna cotta ever! This Coffee Panna Cotta has a rich, creamy coffee flavour and a melt in the mouth texture you come to expect from panna cotta.

Oh, plus it takes less than 20 minutes of actual effort and can be made ahead of time so it makes for the most easy dinner party dessert.

If you love panna cotta as much as I do, you definitely need to try this coconut panna cotta too.

Glasses filled with coffee panna cotta on a grey platter with a turquoise napkin near to them

What is panna cotta made of?

The classic panna cotta recipe is nothing more than, cream, milk, sugar, gelatine and a little vanilla, and it’s these simple ingredients that make panna cotta such a versatile dessert.

You can see from this Almond Honey Panna Cotta, this Buttermilk Panna Cotta or the cream cheese in this Panna Cotta Fresh Peach Tart that a simple panna cotta recipe can be turned into so many wonderfully flavoured desserts.

This Coffee Panna Cotta has 3 layers of flavour;

  1. A bottom layer of coffee panna cotta
  2. A thin layer of plain cream panna cotta (to give that classic coffee look)
  3. A strong, sweet coffee syrup to top it off

Panna Cotta truly is the dessert that has it all. It’s rich and luxurious but made with minimal everyday ingredients. It looks totally indulgent but is actually quite light to eat and not super sweet. It has an unbelievably smooth and silky texture but is so incredibly simple to make.

I’ve made this basic recipe so many times now, I’ve lost count. It works every single time and is the simplest method there is. Even my mum was excited by how simple it is to make. I’ve also made countless flavour spin-offs and believe it to be the perfect way to end a meal.

2 glasses filled with coffee panna cotta on a platter with coffee beans scattered around

How To Make Coffee Panna Cotta

  1. Start by blooming the powdered gelatine on top of some cold milk in a saucepan. Blooming just means the gelatine is softening making it easier to dissolve through the milk. Leave it for a few minutes and it should look all wrinkly on top.
  2. Heat the milk over low heat and stir until the gelatine dissolves. It should not get hot, just slightly warm
  3. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve that too before taking the milk off the heat. VERY IMPORTANT – the milk should never come to a bubble and should only be just steaming by the time you’re done.
  4. Mix the milk into the cream mixture and set a little aside to top your panna cotta with later.
  5. Add strong coffee to the larger portion, mix through and pour it into your glasses.
  6. Let that set at least 1 hour in the fridge before melting down the white panna cotta that you set aside and pouring that over the top
  7. Now let them set completely – 3-4 hours or overnight.

How To Make Coffee Syrup

  1. Just pour some strong coffee into a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  2. Heat it on the stove until it starts to simmer, then let it simmer away for 7-10 minutes until thick and syrupy.

Don’t let the coffee syrup boil at too high a heat or it may burn and become bitter. Also, make sure to stir it often until you have big thick bubbles.

Just pour that rich coffee syrup on top of each panna cotta right before serving. If a little air has gotten down the side, between the panna cotta and the glass, the coffee syrup may seep down like in the photo above. I actually think this is quite a beautiful effect that happened totally by accident.

If you want to make sure it happens, before you pour the syrup on top, very gently tilt the glass and press your finger against the top of the panna cotta gently. This will release the vacuum seal and once you pour the syrup on, it will slowly start to seep down.

3/4 view of a glass filled with coffee panna cotta, Sits on a blue napkin with more surrounding it

How Long Does Panna Cotta Keep?

Store panna cotta in the fridge for up to 3 days. Make sure they are covered with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container.

Tips To Making A Perfect Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is very simple but there are a few important tips

  • Use whole / full fat ingredients – sometimes (not always) light versions will tend to separate on setting into two distinct layers. Full fat ingredients won’t.
  • Make sure to let the gelatine bloom – sprinkle it evenly over the top of the cold milk, then let it sit for 5 minutes to soften. It will look wrinkly when it’s ready.
  • Don’t overheat the milk – at no point should your milk be ‘hot’. It should be quite warm but as long as you are stirring constantly over the lowest heat it should take no more 3-4 minutes on the stove.
  • Make sure the gelatine dissolves – if it hasn’t dissolved you’ll see little clear flecks on your spoon or the bottom of your saucepan. Make sure to keep stirring until they’re all gone and if you’re worried that any didn’t dissolve, pour it through a strainer before pouring into your serving cups.
  • If you’d like to see how to unmould panna cotta, see this Vanilla Panna Cotta
  • Panna Cotta requires time to set so plan ahead. This makes it the perfect make ahead dessert.

Panna Cotta, and especially my new favourite Coffee Panna Cotta, just has everything going for it. It’s an easy dinner party dessert, that is both light and luxurious. It’s so easy to make and your guests won’t be able to hold back from digging straight into this delightful espresso flavoured panna cotta.

Looking for another easy dinner party dessert? Try these

Closeup of a glass filled with coffee panna cotta, Sits on a blue napkin with more surrounding it.
4.9 from 20 ratings
If you’re looking for your coffee hit in dessert form, this Coffee Panna Cotta should be at the top of your list. Less than 20 minutes effort, espresso, cream and sugar are all you need for this luxurious no bake coffee dessert.


For the Panna Cotta

  • 1 ¾ cups whole milk
  • 4 teaspoons powdered gelatine
  • cup caster sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups thickened (heavy) cream
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup strong coffee

For the Coffee Syrup

  • ¾ cup strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided


For the Panna Cotta

  • Pour the cold milk into a medium saucepan and sprinkle the gelatine evenly over the top. Let it sit for 5 minutes to soften (it should look a bit wrinkly by the end). Turn the heat on low under the saucepan and stir for a minute or two until the gelatine has dissolved.
  • Add the sugar and stir again until dissolved. This should only take another minute or two. Don't let the milk get too hot or to come to a simmer. It should only be just warm.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat. Pour in the cream and salt and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Set aside ½ cup of the mixture, then add the coffee to the larger portion and stir through. Pour the coffee flavoured mixture evenly between 6 serving glasses.
  • Place the glasses in the fridge and allow to set for 1 hour. Place the extra ½ cup of mixture in the fridge also.
  • After 1 hour, melt the ½ cup of extra mixture in a saucepan over low heat and pour that evenly over the top of each panna cotta. Put them back in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight.

For the Coffee Syrup

  • Place the ¾ cup of coffee and 2 tablespoons sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low simmer over low heat. Let it gently simmer, stirring often for around 10 minutes until it's thick, syrup and reduced to about ¼ cup. Place in the fridge until serving time.
  • Pour a little syrup over the top of each panna cotta and serve.


Equipment used: heavy based saucepan, small coffee glasses
  • Make sure not to overheat the milk. It should not bubble at any point. 
  • Use full fat ingredients. Light versions may result in a separated panna cotta.
Want more panna cotta recipes? Click here
Have you tried this recipe?Don't forget to leave a rating and comment below and let me know how it was! I love hearing from you. Nutrition information is approximate and derived from an online calculator. The brands you use may cause variations.

Closeup of a glass filled with coffee panna cotta, Sits on a blue napkin with more surrounding it