The Perfect Coffee Rub Recipe to Elevate Your Grilling Game

The Perfect Coffee Rub Recipe to Elevate Your Grilling Game

When used as a dry rub, coffee is one of the tastiest and effective ways to season and tenderize meat for grilling, smoking, and roasting. Discover which roast type to use with your cuts of meat and try out our recipe.

It’s no secret that coffee and food pair perfectly together. Though dessert might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of food and coffee, we’re here to talk about how delicious coffee can make your steaks and briskets. When used as a dry rub, coffee is one of the tastiest and effective ways to season and tenderize meat for grilling, smoking, and roasting. In this guide, we’ll share what we know about coffee and why it makes such an amazing dry rub ingredient.

What is a Coffee Rub?

A coffee rub is a dry seasoning and meat tenderizer that’s primarily used for beef, especially when grilling or barbecuing. Coffee dry rubs are made of ground coffee, of course, but also a combination of herbs and spices to help bring out the flavor of the meat.

Despite what you might think, coffee rubs don’t taste strongly of coffee. Instead, you get a deep, earthy flavor that compliments the rich taste of beef. You don’t get any caffeine either–the high heat of the cooking process nullifies any caffeine content in the coffee itself. The natural acidity in coffee is also very effective at tenderizing whatever cut of meat you choose, especially if you cook the meat low and slow.

The tasting notes of the coffee you choose can also play a role in the overall flavor of the cooked meat, providing complexity to the final product. And when applied generously, a coffee dry rub makes an incredible crust on smoked meats like brisket or spare ribs.

What’s the Best Coffee to Use for a Coffee Rub?

A lot of coffee recipes call for basic instant coffee to make a coffee dry rub because it's relatively inexpensive and packs a powerful coffee flavor. While that’s certainly an option, we think the roast you choose for your coffee rub is incredibly important. Pairing the right type of roast with the cut of meat you have is an art form which we’re happy to teach you.

Light Roast

Best for: beef or pork tenderloin, grilled steak, spare ribs

Light roast coffee has the highest acidity out of all roast types which typically results in a bright, almost sweet cup of coffee when brewed. When used in a coffee rub, light roast coffee helps tenderize the meat particularly well and adds a lighter and more complex flavor, often bringing out hints of fruit or citrus flavors in your meat. 

We recommend our Pink Lady roast, a bright and vibrant coffee that has the sweet, flavorful essence of berries and a hint of orange. This light roast is perfect even for pork, though still flavorful enough to use on steak or ribs.

Medium Roast

Best for: grilled steak, spare ribs, brisket

Medium roast coffee has a balanced flavor profile and acidity level compared to both dark and light roasts. When brewed, it produces a pleasantly balanced cup of coffee that can be enjoyed black or with cream and sugar. Medium roast coffee is great to use in a coffee rub recipe as it has plenty of acidity to help tenderize the meat and a great full-bodied flavor to elevate the taste.

We recommend our Blue Boy roast when you want a balanced coffee dry rub. This full-bodied best-seller has notes of chocolate, graham crackers, and brown sugar to elevate the flavor of your steaks, ribs, or brisket.

Dark Roast

Best for: brisket, roasts, grilled steak

Dark roast coffee has the strongest flavor profile of all the roast types and often has tasting notes of dark chocolate or roasted nuts. Though dark roast coffee is bitter when brewed, that makes it one of the best roasts to use when making a coffee rub because of its deep, pronounced flavor, especially when roasting or smoking meat for an extended period of time.

We recommend the dark and sultry Late Night roast for a coffee dry rub that packs a flavorful punch. The bold, bitter flavor of this coffee transforms into a robust and delicious crust on briskets and reverse-seared steaks.

Methodical’s Coffee Rub Recipe

Looking for a perfect coffee dry rub recipe that delivers every single time? You’ve come to the right place.

Coffee Rub Ingredients

  • ¼ cup ground coffee (roughly the texture of coarse sea salt)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne


  1. Grind the coffee of your choice into a medium-fine texture, similar to coarse sea salt.
  2. In a bowl, thoroughly combine the ground coffee with the rest of the spices.
  3. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Best Uses for Methodical’s Coffee Rub

Our coffee rub is perfect for just about any cut of meat and any preparation, but the following methods are where it truly shines.


Our coffee rub is perfect for brisket cooked low and slow in a smoker. Coat your brisket in a generous amount of the coffee rub and let it sit at room temperature for up to an hour before adding to the smoker–this will give the brisket a delicious, thick crust once it’s done.


Use this coffee dry rub on your favorite cut of steak for a delicious dinner. Massage the coffee rub into your steaks and let them sit at room temperature for around 20-30 minutes before cooking. We recommend reverse-searing your steak–or roasting then finishing it off with a high-heat sear at the end–when using this rub as the coffee grounds can easily burn at higher temperatures.


This rub is great for ribs as well. Apply generously to spare ribs and let them sit in the fridge overnight so the ground coffee can work to tenderize the meat. After that, cook the ribs with the method of your choice and savor how the meat falls right off the bone.

Signed, Seared, Delivered

Are you hungry yet? Because we definitely are. Making a coffee dry rub is an incredibly easy way to level up your grilling game. File this recipe away for later so you can impress your friends at the next barbeque–you definitely won’t regret it. And be sure to tag us on social media when you do use this recipe so we can see your delicious creations come to life!

Want more coffee-related recipes? Check out these guides to get your coffee fix at any time of day: