Coffee Three Layer Cake

The coffee-flavored cake with no name is our family's generational go-to for birthdays and celebrations.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 20 slices
Calories 318kcal


For the cake

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter room temperature
  • 5 eggs yolks
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 5 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 Tablespoons prepared black coffee
  • 5 egg whites beaten stiff

For the icing

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter melted
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons prepared black coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 16 ounce box powdered sugar


For the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Using a stand mixer on medium speed, cream the sugar and butter together for several minutes until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Crack the eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. Save the whites for later. Add the egg yolks one at a time until well combined, but be careful not to overmix.
  • In a separate large bowl, sift and combine all dry cake ingredients.
  • Alternate mixing half of the buttermilk and half of the dry ingredients, mixing together as you go. Occasionally scrape the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and coffee and mix. 
  • In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 5 to 7 minutes. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter using a spatula until well mixed.
  • Lightly grease three round 9-inch light-colored cake pans and add parchment paper if desired with an extra bit of grease on top. Divide the batter evenly into each pan. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until firm and toothpick comes out clean from the center when inserted.

For the icing

  • Combine all ingredients except the powdered sugar and mix using a stand mixer or hand mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar until firm but light and fluffy. If the icing gets too thick, then add a little more coffee. If the icing is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.


Creaming the butter and sugar properly is key to cake texture. King Arthur Flour has a fabulous post about getting this method right.
Cold, fresh eggs will be easier to beat stiff. A clean, cold bowl also helps. Any egg yolk present will prevent stiff peaks from forming.


Serving: 0g | Calories: 318kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 321mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 525IU | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1.1mg