The bold, bitter flavor of coffee highlights a steak’s meatiness, making it a desirable addition to rubs. Applying a simple coffee rub to your steak is an easy way to amp up a steak’s savoriness while creating complex yet complementary flavors. Adapted from Tim Byres’ BBQ Beef Chili Rub and Coffee Cure, this recipe uses ancho chili powder which provides a smoky heat that pairs well with the bitter notes of a dark roast coffee. Cumin and mustard powder round out the flavors, lending an earthiness that tie together the sweetness of the brown sugar, bitterness from the coffee grounds and spice from the cayenne pepper.
Start to Finish: 5 minutes, plus 8 hours or overnight to cure
Servings: Makes about 12 tablespoons, or enough to coat 6 pounds of meat
Difficulty Level: Beginner
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground coffee beans (dark roast recommended)
- 2 tablespoons black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix with your hands to combine, breaking up any clumps until a uniform consistency is achieved.
Apply around 2 tablespoons of the coffee cure per pound of meat by sprinkling it evenly over the meat’s surface. Use your fingers to gently rub the coffee cure into the meat.
Put the meat into a plastic storage bag and remove as much of the air as you can before sealing. Refrigerate the meat for at least 8 hours or overnight before cooking.
Store any unused coffee cure in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place. For best results, use within 6 months as ground spices lose their flavor over time.
You can coffee cure most any cut of steak that you like, but flank, ribeye, sirloin, brisket and New York strip steak are excellent options.
Change up the spices to suit your tastes. Try incorporating chili powder, paprika, celery salt, garlic salt or powder, onion salt or powder to add savory notes or ground ginger, granulated sugar, curry powder or coriander to add complexity.
Suggested Cooking Method
Grilling imparts steak with a smokiness that complements the flavors of the coffee cure, while the flames sear and caramelize the exterior rub and seal in moisture. For cuts such as brisket that need to be cooked slow and low, try preparing it in a smoker or over low, indirect heat in a gas grill.