Coffee-based Spice Rub Testing

We set out to find recipes that use coffee as a base for a spice rub. Specifically we wanted to test rubs to apply to meat in preparation for smoking or grilling.  Our test subject was a sectioned rack of pork ribs with three rubs applied to the sections. Each rub used The Milky Way dark roast blend as a base.

Of course we did not want the ribs to end up tasting like coffee. The goal of a spice rub is to develop a blended combination of spices and sugars to produce a flavor experience that enhances and complements the meat. In this case we were looking to use coffee as a spice that contributed to the overall flavor. The coffee was ground to a fine espresso size in order to ensure even distribution and flavor.

Here are the three recipes we tested:

Spice Rub #1

  • 1T The Milky Way dark roast blend
  • 1T onion powder
  • 1T paprika
  • 1T brown sugar
  • 1t salt
  • 1t black pepper
  • 1t chili powder

Spice Rub #2

  • 1T The Milky Way dark roast blend
  • 1T smoked paprika
  • 1t cumin
  • 1t garlic powder
  • 1t onion powder
  • 2t orange zest

Spice Rub #3

  • 2T The Milky Way dark roast blend
  • 2T brown sugar
  • 2t chili powder
  • 1t black pepper
  • 1t smoked paprika
  • 1t powdered mustard
  • 2t coarse salt
  • 1t garlic powder
  • 1t dried oregano
  • 1t ground cumin

While all three provided a nice flavor experience (I mean, come on, it’s smoked pork ribs) number three was the clear winner. It delivered a good sense of coffee in the mix but did not put the coffee taste front and center.

The preparation and the carnage

Preparation The Carnage

Food, like coffee, is a highly subjective experience. What you enjoy might not be everyone’s cup of… coffee. Like I said at the start, all three of these rubs delivered a nice, complementary taste. We very much enjoyed number three but encourage you to try all of them to find what you like best.

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