I often have readers ask what they can substitute for coffee in my chocolate cake recipes, and I have a hard time answering that question. Coffee is a wonderful addition to chocolate desserts and it actually enhances the chocolate flavor, without really adding any coffee flavor. There really isn’t a good substitute. Substituting with water will take away that boost and using another flavored liquid could alter the flavor entirely.
My advice? Stick with the coffee and don’t be afraid to try recipes that include it. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, simply visit your local coffee shop and ask for a cup of plain black coffee.