coffee rub with spices
Our savory coffee rub with brown sugar and spices

We all know coffee can be the star of sweet treats like cakes and affogatos, but coffee has a place in savory recipes too. 

Coffee can work wonders when paired with meat. In addition to imparting an earthy, complex flavor, the grounds can improve the texture of your dish. Coffee beans are naturally acidic. That means that they will act as a tenderizer when rubbed onto protein. The acids in the coffee grounds will start to break down the protein, creating a moist, tender bite. 

Our favorite way to take advantage of this is with a coffee spice rub. Made with finely ground coffee, chile, brown sugar, and other spices, this rub will add a smoky-sweet element to any dish. It’s extremely versatile, and can be used on most proteins, but we especially love it on beef and pork. Make sure to rub your protein at least 30 minutes prior to cooking to allow the flavors to penetrate. After roasting or grilling the rub will form a delightfully flavorful crust.

beef tenderloin with coffee rub
Try our coffee rub paired with beef tenderloin for a flavorful dinner with a crispy crust

Coffee rub recipe

  • ¼ Cup finely ground dark-roast coffee
  • ¼ Cup ancho chile powder
  • ¼ Cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 Tbsps smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsps kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin


Measure and add all ingredients to a bowl, and stir to combine.

To use, pat your protein dry with paper towels, then thoroughly coat with the spice mixture. Rub the mixture into the meat so that it adheres, and be sure to cover the entire surface area. Allow the meat to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This gives the rub time to flavor and soften the meat. Cook to your desired doneness.

Use right away on your favorite protein, or store in a tightly sealed jar. The rub will keep in a covered container for up to 3 months.

After dinner, try satisfying your sweet tooth with this five-ingredient coffee granita.