Barbecue: Coffee-Rubbed Ribs

Grilling

Fire up your grill and get ready for some serious smoke.

Barbecue: Coffee-Rubbed Ribs

[Photographs: Joshua Bousel]

At the start of my barbecue career I fumbled through a few rubs before finding Mike Mill's Magic Dust recipe. There's now a mason jar full of it in my cupboard at all times. Keeping a steady rub constant allowed me to focus on how to slow-smoke a piece of meat to perfection, and after seven years, I'm now feeling pretty comfortable with that.

But I'm back to playing around with rubs, and finally tried one I've always found intriguing: a coffee rub.

Not a coffee drinker myself, I wasn't sure how this would go over, but I ended up loving it—the way the coffee plays with the other spices, smoke, and meat. And the coffee-ness didn't dominate. Rather, the ground beans added an earthy quality to an already complex mix of flavors. The ribs eaten dry were fantastic, but even better with a coating of stout barbecue sauce.

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 1 hour
  • Total time:7-20 hours

Ingredients

  • For the rub
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground coffee
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 racks spare ribs, preferably St. Louis cut
  • Stout barbecue sauce (optional)
  • Type of fire: Indirect
  • Grill heat: Low

Directions

  1. 1.

    Mix together the coffee, salt, paprika, chile powder, dark brown sugar, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, coco powder, and coriander in a small bowl to make the rub.

  2. 2.

    Remove the membrane from the back of the rack, and trim the ribs. Rub each rack liberally with the rub. Wrap ribs in foil or place in a large container and store in the refrigerator over night (optional).

  3. 3.

    Remove the ribs from the fridge while preparing the smoker. Fire up the smoker to 225°F, adding a few chunks of smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When the wood is producing smoke, place the ribs in the smoker, meat side up, and smoke until the ribs have a slight bend when lifted from one end, about 5-6 hours. If using sauce, brush on the sauce and continue to cook until sauce has caramelized, about 15-20 minutes longer. Remove from the smoker, slice, and serve.