The Secret Ingredient (Coffee): Coffee-Charred Flank Steak

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

Using coffee as a secret ingredient opens up a bitter, bitter world in the kitchen. In a good way. I have found, in experimenting with coffee, that it adds a flavor component not found in other ingredients. Coffee-bitter is a dry, matte flavor that adds such complexity and uniqueness to dishes. It is a delightful contrasting bitterness.

This flank steak is rubbed with chili for heat, sugar for sweetness, coffee for bitterness, pepper for spice, and salt. Together, with the char of a hot grill, the result is a juicy sliced steak with a complex and flavorful crust.

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the French in a Flash series for Serious Eats.

The Secret Ingredient (Coffee): Coffee-Charred Flank Steak

About This Recipe



  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons mild chili powder
  • 1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. 1

    Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine sugar, espresso, black pepper, salt, and chili powder. Rub steak all over with vegetable oil. Press spice mixture onto both sides of steak.

  2. 2

    Cook on first side until well seared, about 8 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is seared and center of steak registers 135°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes longer. Transfer to cutting board, tent with foil, and allow meat to rest 10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain, and serve.


Add a rating with your comment:

Comments can take up to a minute to appear - please be patient!

Previewing your comment: