Cooking with coffee

Cooking with coffee

Tips from Bobby Flay!
Francine Segan, Betty Food+Home Editor

You probably don’t pour your morning cappuccino into a meat loaf or baked bean recipe – but top chefs, like Food Network’s superstars Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay, do!

Coffee’s hint of bittersweet chocolate, touch of berry, whiff of roasted nuts and red wine, make it a fantastic cooking ingredient.

Brewed coffee can substitute for stock or water in stews, sauces and even baked beans. Once you begin experimenting with coffee, you’ll find hundreds of uses for it. You can even freeze leftover brewed coffee in ice cube trays or zip lock bags to use later as a seasoning.
The grounds make a terrific dry rub, as coffee seals in the meat’s juices and help to caramelize it, which leads to a juicer, tastier piece of meat. Be sure to use finely ground beans, like those for espresso or Turkish coffee for rub recipes.

The ideal way to experience the depth of flavors coffee can add to beef is with Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Coffee Rubbed Steak (recipe ; photo below) from his latest cookbook, Mesa Grill Cookbook: Explosive Flavors from the Southwestern Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, 2007). Flay, restaurant owner and star of award-winning cooking shows like Boy Meets Grill, Iron Chef America and Throwdown with Bobby Flay, is a master of perfectly flavoring and grilling meats.

Flay’s rub calls for coffee grounds to be mixed with spices including coriander, oregano and chili powder. The first bite is sweet and smoky, followed by heat, which is perfectly tamed by the recipe’s brown sugar. You’ll love how the coffee grounds tenderize and add a hint of bittersweet chocolate to the beef.

Says Flay, “My inspiration for using coffee in a rub came to me when I was traveling in Texas for my Food Network show, Food Nation. I found a lot of coffee-rubbed beef dishes during my visit and when I came back to home to New York City, I experimented and decided to add espresso into a beef and rib rub recipe of mine. I find that the aromatic, bold flavor of coffee pairs nicely with the red chiles in the rub and adds a savory richness to grilled meats.”

Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Coffee Rubbed Steak
Serves: 4
From Mesa Grill Cookbook: Explosive Flavors from the Southwestern Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, ‘07) by Bobby Flay


Coffee Rub for Filet

1/4 cup ancho chile powder
1/4 cup finely ground espresso
2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder
4 filet mignons (or other steak), 12 ounces each
2 tablespoons canola oil


  • Combine all spices in a bowl.
  • Season one side of each filet with a heaping tablespoon of the rub. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until smoking. Place the filet in the pan, rub-side down and cook until a crust has formed, 2 minutes. Turn the steak over, reduce heat to medium and continue cooking to medium-rare doneness, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from the pan and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
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