3/4 cup shortening
1 2/3 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 12 cup muffin pans or line with 18 paper baking cups.
In a medium bowl, beat the shortening and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla, instant coffee and cayenne pepper. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter, alternating with the water, just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack.
When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter and frost as desired.