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If you’ve never used coffee in marinades or dry rubs for meat, you are missing a great opportunity to enjoy its mysterious flavor added to usual suspects such as herbs, peppers, and spices.  I’ve blogged before on a take on pork tenderloin that I still think is one of the best recipes I have in the blog, and that uses coffee as one of the ingredients.  But today I’ll switch gears and apply a coffee-based dry rub to beef. The recipe, published by The New York Times,  was recommended by our very dear friend, Marijo, who happens to be a great cook, so when she raves about something, I am all ears. And taste buds. It did not take me too long to jump on it, although it is taking me a long time to share it here.  What else is new?  That’s the way Sally rolls…


(as published in The New York Times)

2 tablespoons finely ground coffee
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 ½ tablespoons granulated garlic
1 heaping teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Rub on the meat you intend to grill and leave it for at least one hour, overnight works too.

Grill to medium-rare, or to the level of your choice (hopefully not well-done!)

Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.


to print the recipe click here

Comments: I’ve made this recipe quite a few times, with flank steak, flatiron steak, tri-tip, and even bison rib eye steaks. For the bison rib eye, I adapted it to sous-vide and it turned out spectacular, but the photos not so much, so I won’t dedicate a special blog article for it.

SOUS-VIDE METHOD: Apply the rub, and seal the meat in a plastic bag (vacuum is fine, water replacement method will work too). Leave the meat in the fridge for one hour or more, whatever is convenient with your schedule.   Place the bag in the water-bath set for 134 F (medium-rare) for a minimum of 3 hours.  I left mine for almost 6 hours, as I started cooking it at lunch time and we enjoyed the meat at dinner time that evening.  Once the meat is cooked, open the bag, discard the liquid accumulated inside, pat-dry the surface with the meat with paper towels.  Sear on a blazing hot grill or cast iron pan.

To our taste, the sous-vide was by far the best method for bison steaks. Same applies to flatiron. For flank and skirt steak, we think there is not much improvement by going the sous-vide route, both cuts of meat cook perfectly fine on the grill. Whatever your method of cooking, this rub is money!  Give it a try…

Marijo, thanks for sending this recipe our way,
looking forward to many more!

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  1. Oops! How very interesting!! Have made meats [especially lamb] Scandinavian style in coffee/cream sauce but not used my favourite morning beverage as a rub!! Sally: hugely interesting: I truly shall try this soonest and shall also come ‘back’ to praise or condemn!!!!!! Happy weekend!! We here are but an hour away!


  2. I have my favorite recipes using coffee rubs as well Sally and one favorite was a Sugar Bush Maple rubbed Pork tenderloin, I might have to drag them all out this grilling season along with the Fine Cooking version with cocoa. Thanks for the reminder! Happy anniversary and happy blogging.


    • definitely leave them out, in fact one of the times I made this recipe I did because (please don’t laugh) I could not find my bottle of ground cloves, and ran out of patience searching for it. So there you go, I already did this experiment for you! 😉


  3. Oh wow! I’ve made a crock pot roast once with coffee but have never tried it on a dry rub. What a great idea. And of course the sous vide (?) method is new to me so I’m excited to try that!! Lovely recipe. Thanks!!


    • It’s a fun ingredient to play with for sure… I also love cooking with tea, but haven’t yet blogged about it, I think… amazing, after 6 years I tend to forget what I blogged about 😉


  4. I’ve never used coffee as a rub. I’ll have to give it a try one of these days. Maybe splurge for Canada Day (July 1st) and throw a steak on the bbq. Last year I made pornographic corn dogs.


  5. I would not comment on the coffee rub unless I tried it, so here goes. We just finished a lunch taste comparison of our old standby seasoning and the coffee rub. In three words, ” We liked it.”. The spice flavors do not mess with the natural flavor of the grilled meat just enhance the smoke and medium char flavor. The rub has the bonus of giving a better char appearance without the ‘burn’ on the surface that makes it look luscious.. The flavor is a bit intriguing but not intimidating.. One might not even recognize the coffee unless they had a good palate. It tastes great! This could be fair game on lots of meats. A keeper.


    • awesome! Glad you liked it too… I am a purist when it comes to steaks, as in Brazil we like our meat seasoned with salt only. Black pepper at most. But, I think a dry rub every once in a while is a good change of pace. It cannot overpower the flavor of the meat, though…


  6. Oh my goodness that meat looks delectable! Santa Maria barbecue is big here, but I never quite knew what made it different! I’m definitely going to have to try it! And your photography skills made the meat look amazing. I can never make meat look good in a photo!


  7. I have seen coffee added to spices and herbs for meats before and it fascinates me. I’ve always been a little nervous to try it. I’m not a huge fan of coffee, so it’s intimidated me. Your steak looks absolutely delicious though! In fact it’s making me very hungry. My cucumbers and hummus lunch pales in comparison.😉


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