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How to Make Coffee BBQ Sauce & Coffee Rubs

How to Make Coffee BBQ Sauce & Coffee Rubs

Coffee. We all love it for different reasons—whether it's the flavor, the aroma, the smoothness, the deep flavor, the caffeine jolt...
all of the above.

An after-dinner coffee is always a nice, relaxing, indulgent treat. But have you ever thought about using coffee in your cooking?

Turns out coffee isn't just great in desserts—it can add a delicious depth of flavor to savory dishes.

Which brings me to barbecuing. Coffee and barbecue may seem like an odd combination at first, but trust me—it’s a winning duo. Using a coffee sauce or a coffee rub gives dishes a deep, rich flavor that is perfect for spring and summer grilling.

In this guide, I'll show you how to quickly add a little coffee flavor to your barbecue with coffee-based BBQ sauces—and how to make a quick, easy homemade dark roast coffee rub.

Whether you're cooking steaks, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, or vegetables, it'll give your grilling an extra boost of flavor—and caffeine.

Coffee is a versatile ingredient that can be used in sweet or savory dishes. It adds a unique depth of flavor to barbecue sauces and rubs, and can be used to marinate meat or vegetables.

To make a quick coffee BBQ sauce, you can simply combine 1 part brewed coffee and 2 parts barbecue sauce.

Seriously. That's all you need to do.

Fine... here's the recipe:

Quick Coffee BBQ Sauce


  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce (See the end of this guide for my personal recommendations.)


  1. Mix the ingredients together
  2. Brush it on your food before grilling.

If you want a stronger coffee flavor, add more brewed coffee. For a milder flavor, add less. Making a delicious coffee BBQ sauce at home is that quick and easy. 

Sure, you can make it more involved by making your own homemade barbecue sauce and adding coffee, but that’s a lot more time consuming. And messy.

(And don’t you have enough to worry about at a cookout, besides making sure the Instacart shopper didn’t bring you tomato puree instead of tomato paste? Again? For the third time?)


Easy Dark Roast Coffee Rub

Another great option for adding coffee flavor to your barbecue is by using a coffee rub.

For making a coffee rub, you have tons of options. I recommend mixing coffee grounds with common pantry spices like paprika, chili powder, and cumin, then adding salt (or garlic salt, but watch the sodium) to suit you and your guests’ preferences.

Or… just add coffee to an existing rub and brag to your neighbors about it being an original recipe you came up with, I won't tell anyone. However you decide to make it, just rub the mixture onto your meat or vegetables before grilling.

If you prefer to follow a recipe to make sure it comes out "just right," here's one you can follow—but don't fret if you're out of any of these specific spices, and feel free to add your own spin!



  • 1/2 cup dark roast coffee grounds (Try this Black Insomnia Dark Roast for really strong, amazing coffee flavor and extra caffeine!)
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder


Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and rub it onto your meat or vegetables.


For a more intense flavor, let the rub sit on the food for at least 30 minutes to an hour before grilling.


More Coffee Sauce & Coffee Rub Tips

Want a great base sauce to use for your (mostly) homemade coffee BBQ sauce? Or not as concerned with the coffee flavor, and just want some bold, amazing tasting bbq sauces and rubs?

Here are a few of my favorite options:

  • New Belgium 1554 Dark Ale BBQ Medium Bold Savory Sauce—this stuff is fantastic. It’s slow simmered with 1554 Dark Ale, which adds a delicious depth of flavor to grilled meat. And if you add coffee, the awesome flavor imparted upon your food will be even deeper and more complex. You'll leave the HOA president speechless when she comes by the house to test out your BBQ skills, and make sure that your grill is exactly the right number of inches (127 inches) from your patio door.
  • Rufus also makes a good rub—his "Original Meat Rub Seasoning" is  a great all-purpose rub that will flavor your food without overpowering it. And if you just mix in some coffee grounds, you'll have a uniquely delicious rub your guests will rave about.

There you have it, a few simple tips and recipes for adding coffee flavor to your barbecue.

So fire up the grill, put on a pot of coffee—maybe not in that order—and get cooking!


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