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199Coffee is like a good lover; it satisfies your needs, warms you when it’s cold outside and is there any time of day.  But, coffee doesn’t always belong in a cup, to give you a jolt in the morning or to end a perfect meal.  Coffee, mixed with a few spices,  makes a rockin’ good dry rub.  Before we go any further, I just want you to see what I saw outside my window yesterday.  It is exactly what you think it is115….a black bear! Yes, my friends, we here in the nature preserve that is our backyard, have all manner of interesting creatures.  People feed birds around here, but as you may know, these are really “bear feeders”.  And then, there are the garbage cans.  Though very necessary…again, bear feeders.  We are expected to live in harmony with these creatures with large teeth.  I’ll get back to you about that when one of “the 3 bears” decides that someone is “just right”!  I’m off my soapbox now and back to coffee….

My parents drank coffee and I loved the smell of coffee brewing in the morning, but I never liked the taste, so I didn’t drink coffee…and then I met The Latin Lover.  He wooed me with espresso (and Cognac, but that’s another story!).  He would fix  himself an espresso, in his espresso pot, in his dorm room (Do you think he knew the power of that aroma?).  You know the kind of pot that has 2 parts, they screw together and you put the pot on a burner.  I loved the smell of that coffee brewing; he always offered to make some for me and finally, I tried it.  018This was no coffee I’d had before.  This was new; this was exotic; this was good!  I don’t know about now, but back then, South Dakota farm girls weren’t exposed to espresso.  There were cafes that sold your basic coffee, but not coffee houses, unless you were near a large city; this was before Starbucks, people.  This coffee, this espresso was rich, slightly thick and just a little bit sweet…and that was the beginning of my love affair with coffee…and The Latin Lover.

Coffee is from his part of the world and has been part of his life since childhood.  The Cubans drink coffee and lots of it.  Anyone who’s been to Miami, knows that cafe Cubano is everywhere.  It’s cafe con leche for breakfast (half milk and half coffee), an espresso at lunch and then that little jolt of coffee as a nice pick-me-up in the afternoon, then finally,  another after dinner.  It’s a life-style.

Coffee, without sugar, has that slight bitterness that enhances the savory, when paired with savory foods, so it stands to reason that it’s pretty good in a dry rub.

001The thing is, in a dry rub you don’t really taste the coffee as coffee; it just sort of enhances the savory aspect of meats, like steak, burger, pork and lamb.  It’s great with shrimp and salmon, too.  This is a very basic dry rub; coffee with brown sugar, a few spices and salt and pepper.  You can embellish it with some garlic or onion granules, orange or lime zest or kick the heat up further on it, but it’s pretty good as is.  I like to add 1 or 2 teaspoons to a stew, as well.  Again, it’s the savory side that gets kicked up a notch.

Coffee House Dry Rub

  • Servings: Makes 1/2 cup
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Brownulated sugar® is just that; brown sugar in granulated form.  You may use regular brown sugar, but the mixture may harden and clump.  Substituting maple sugar for the brownulated sugar is a wonderful flavor option, as well.

  • 2 tablespoons finely ground fresh coffee (think espresso grind)
  • 2 tablespoons brownulated sugar (see head note)
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon guajillo chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (Tellicherry is preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine all the ingredients in a plastic bag and mix well.  Store in a tightly covered jar in a dark, cool cupboard.  Use within 6 months (you will, don’t worry!).

NOTE:  Feel free to add 2-3 teaspoon orange or lime zest to the mixture.  I really like to grind mulling spices to a fine powder and add to the mixture; you may use a pepper grinder to do this.  I add about 2 tablespoons ground mulling spice to the above mixture.  The level of sugar in this is not high, because I like to use frozen orange juice concentrate to act as a “glue” for the rub—particularly good with salmon, shrimp or pork.  Unsweetened cocoa powder, about 1 tablespoon per this recipe, can be added, too.

Coffee House Dry Rub Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015.  All rights reserved.

003Brownulated sugar® is great to have on hand if you make your own dry rubs.  And please do.  You can control the amount of salt, heat and sweet when you make your own rubs; and it’s a great way to exercies you creativity.  Any well-stocked supermarket sells brown sugar in granulated form (Brownulated sugar®) or you my purchase it at The Spice Mill.

I forgot to mention how good this rub is sprinkled on nectarines halves, then broil or grill them until the just sort of swell slightly, like they about to give up their juices to the Gods.  You want them hot, barely tender, but not falling apart.  They are excellent with pork or seafood.  Nectarines or peaches prepared this way are perfect for the summer grilling season.