Time: 1 hour
Yields: Approximately 1200 g soap (10 bars)
Here in New Zealand, we drink our coffee as a flat white, which is one shot espresso with steamed milk. I tried to recreate our beloved flat white in this soap using Espresso Fragrance and coffee grounds, and layering and swirling the soap to give it the appearance of pouring the steamed milk into the coffee.
Most coffee fragrances will turn your soap brown due to the vanillin component in the fragrance. The fragrance I’m using in this soap is the Fresh Coffee fragrance from Candlescience, available from Pure Nature, which discolours to a caramel colour. To prevent the whole soap becoming one colour, there are three different layers in this soap:
Layer 1: unscented, which will remain creamy white
Layer 2: scented, which will turn caramel
Layer 3: scented with added coffee grounds, which will be slightly darker than layer 2
This kind of layering technique is a particular useful method for fragrances that cause discolouration and when you want to keep part of the soap white. However, be aware that the fragrance ‘travels’ through the soap and the lines between the scented and unscented layers will become more diffuse over time as the fragrance moves into the unscented layer. Even so, it will never become the same darker colour as the scented layer.
If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.
Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!
ONE: To prepare your lye, add 250ml water in a small pyrex or other heat proof glass jug, and weigh out the caustic soda in a separate small container. Then, carefully, add the caustic soda to the water and gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Set aside.
TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil and cocoa butter in a large, heat proof Pyrex jug, and heat it in the microwave until they have melted. Weigh out and add the liquid oils.
THREE: Make sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves. Then, when the lye and oils have cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to the oils and give it a good stir with a whisk until the soap mixture has emulsified. Don’t use a stick blender, because we don’t want the soap mixture to become too thick to work with and the fragrance that will be added later will slightly accelerate (thicken) the soap additionally.
FOUR: Separate approximately a quarter, around 250-300 ml, of the soap mixture into a separate container or jug. This portion will remain unscented, so that it will stay white.
FIVE: To the remaining soap, add the fragrance and give it another good stir.
SIX: Again, separate around 250-300 ml of soap into a second container. Because this portion has been scented, it will turn a caramel colour.
You should have about half of the soap left in the jug, around 500 ml. Don’t worry if it’s a bit more or less.
SEVEN: Add the coffee grounds to the remaining soap mixture and give it a good stir. I used one teaspoon of unused coffee grounds. This portion of the soap will be the darkest colour due to the coffee grounds. If you wish for an even more darker colour, soak the coffee grounds in one teaspoon of water before adding it to the soap. The water will turn a dark brown from the coffee, which will colour the soap.
You should now have three portions in three different jugs/containers: two smaller portions, one unscented and one scented, and a bigger portion (about half of the soap mixture), which is scented and contains coffee grounds.
EIGHT: To assemble the soap, pour the layers on top of each other, adding more of the scented, coffee grounds portion, and only one layer of white soap in the middle of the soap. Leave about a third of the white soap to use later.
NINE: This part it optional, but I like the broken, discontinued layer effect it created in the soap. Using a hanger tool, move it up and down along the length of the soap several times.
TEN: Once you have swirled the soap, spoon the remainder of the white, unscented soap on top, and with the spatula or spoon, fluff the soap a bit to create peaks of soap. Sprinkle some coffee grounds over the top. I had wet hands, so my coffee grounds got a little wet and clumped together when I tried to sprinkle it over the soap.
ELEVEN: Leave the soap to harden for a few days before unmolding and cutting it into bars. Cure the bars for another 6-8 weeks before using.
Flat white soap
- 400 g olive oil
- 250 g coconut oil
- 200 g rice bran oil
- 100 g cocoa butter
- 50 g castor oil
- 137 g caustic soda
- 250 ml water
- 40 ml Fresh Coffee fragrance
- 1 teaspoon ground coffee
- Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Set aside.
- Weigh out the coconut oil and cocoa butter in a heat proof pyrex jug and heat in the microwave until completely melted.
- Weigh out and add the liquid oils to the melted coconut oil and cocoa butter. Set aside.
- When both the lye and oils have cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, add the lye carefully to the oils, avoiding any splashes.
- Using only a whisk, stir the lye/oil mixture until it has emulsified.
- Separate around 250 ml of the soap mixture in a separate container.
- Add the fragrance to the remaining soap and give it a good stir.
- Separate around 250 ml of the scented soap mixture into a second container.
- To the remaining soap, which should be around 500 ml, add 1 teaspoon of coffee grounds and stir. You should now have 3 portions of soap in 3 separate jugs/containers: 1 unscented, 2 scented, 3 scented and with coffee grounds.
- Layer the soap into the soap mold, using more of the scented, coffee grounds portion and leaving around 1/3 of the unscented soap for later use.
- Optional: use a hanger tool to break up the layers by moving it up and down along the length of the soap several times.
- Scoop the remainder of the white, unscented soap on top and fluff it up to create peaks. Sprinkle some coffee grounds over the top.
- Leave to harden for several days before unmolding and cutting into bars. Let the bars cure for another 6-8 weeks before using.