8 Surprising Ways to Cook with Coffee

Marygrace Taylor

Published on November 10th, 2016

For most of us, mornings aren’t complete without a cup (or two) of hot coffee. But java isn’t just for drinking. Brewed coffee or freshly ground beans can add rich, fruity flavor—and loads of antioxidants—to both sweet and savory recipes. From spice rubs, to stews, to smoothies, here are 8 easy, delicious ideas for working coffee into your cooking.

Add it to a spice rub.
Coffee isn’t technically a spice. But when you grind up the whole beans, it sure can act like one. Combine it with other smoky spices like cumin and chile powder to amp up the flavor of meat, pork, chicken, and even fish. Try Drizzle and Dip’s tasty coffee- and spice-rubbed salmon tacos.

Pair it with chocolate.
It’s no secret that coffee and chocolate go together like peanut butter and jelly. But why limit this highly addictive combo to mochas? Experiment with adding some java to your favorite baked goods, like these mouthwatering Salted Caramel Mocha Nutella Brownies from Half Baked Harvest.

Brush it onto bacon.
Coffee and bacon are both brunch time staples, so it’s no surprise that the two only get better when you pair them together. The Worktop brushes a mixture of coffee, maple syrup, and brown sugar onto thick-cut bacon, and then bakes the strips until crispy and caramelized. It’s a sweet, smoky treat worth waking up for.

Use it in barbecue sauce.
Don’t worry, strong black coffee won’t make your barbecue sauce taste like a cappuccino. But it will add an extra hit of smokiness and a greater depth of flavor, says Tasty Kitchen Blog. No need to brew it fresh—just pour in the leftovers from your morning pot.

Add it to granola.
You add honey and vanilla extract to homemade granola—so why not some coffee? Brewed joe is easy to mix in with your other wet ingredients. Plus, it adds a rich flavor boost that compliments warm spices, dried fruit, and nuts alike. Get started with this espresso vanilla bean granola from Vegetarian Ventures.

Stir it into meatless chili.
Bean-based chilis don’t always have the same satisfying richness as their meat-based counterparts. One way to change that? Do like Green Kitchen Stories and add in deeply flavorful ingredients like dark chocolate, chopped nuts, and—yup—brewed black coffee.

Toss it into a smoothie.
Why sip a cuppa joe before or after your morning smoothie when you could combine the two into one delicious drink? Chilled coffee or ground espresso beans pair perfectly with classic smoothie flavors like banana, chocolate, and cinnamon. But it’s equally great with others that you might not expect, like turmeric, ginger, and cashews, says The Almond Eater.

Pour it over ice cream.
You can thank Italy for inventing affogato—a simple, crazy-delicious dessert consisting of hot espresso poured over cold ice cream or gelato. There’s no going wrong with simple vanilla ice cream, but Camille Styles’ Maple Nutmeg Affogato with Amaretti Cookies takes this classic treat to the next level.