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

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.

Recipe Details

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

Prep 5 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 20 mins


  • 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. 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. 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.