Coffee Rubbed Steak – with Costa Rican Coffee!


15 May 2024

Costa Rican coffee is renowned globally for its high quality, and it plays a significant role in the country's culture and economy. The use of coffee as a rub in cooking, particularly for meats, is a more modern culinary application that leverages the rich, complex flavors of Costa Rican coffee beans.

History and Culture of Costa Rican Coffee

  1. Coffee Production in Costa Rica:
    • Coffee was first introduced to Costa Rica in the late 18th century. The government encouraged farming by offering plots of land to those willing to grow and harvest coffee plants.
    • By the 19th century, coffee became a major export commodity, playing a crucial role in Costa Rica's economic development. It was primarily exported to Europe, where it gained recognition for its high quality.
  2. Quality and Characteristics:
    • Costa Rican coffee is known for its high-quality Arabica beans, grown primarily in the high altitudes of regions like Tarrazú, Central Valley, and West Valley.
    • The beans are celebrated for their bright acidity, full-bodied flavor, and distinct notes that can range from fruity to chocolatey, making them ideal for culinary use.

Coffee Rub in Cuisine

Emergence in Cooking:

  • Using coffee as a rub is a relatively modern culinary technique. The idea is to use finely ground coffee beans as part of a spice mix to coat meats, which adds a deep, rich flavor when cooked.
  • Costa Rican chefs and home cooks have started to adopt this technique, utilizing the country's famous coffee to enhance local dishes, especially meats like beef, pork, and chicken.

Incorporating Costa Rica's renowned coffee into a rub for beef is a fantastic way to add a rich, unique flavor to your dish. Here’s a recipe for Coffee-Rubbed Beef, perfect for a gourmet twist in your cooking.

Coffee-Rubbed Beef Recipe


For the Coffee Spice Rub:
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground Costa Rican coffee (medium to dark roast)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (smoked paprika can add an extra depth of flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste for spiciness)
For the Beef:
  • 2 lbs beef (ribeye, sirloin, or flank steak work well)
  • Olive oil for coating
  • Additional salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare the Coffee Spice Rub:
    • In a small bowl, mix together the ground coffee, brown sugar, paprika, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. Ensure it's well combined.
  2. Rub the Beef:
    • Pat the beef dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. This helps the rub adhere better.
    • Lightly coat the beef with olive oil.
    • Generously apply the coffee spice rub all over the beef, pressing it into the meat to stick. Make sure it's evenly coated.
    • Let the beef sit with the rub on for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. For deeper flavor, you can cover and refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight.
  3. Cook the Beef:
    • Remove the beef from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to let it come to room temperature.
    • Preheat your grill or skillet over medium-high heat.
    • Place the beef on the grill or in the skillet. Cook to your preferred level of doneness. (For medium-rare on steaks like ribeye or sirloin, aim for about 4-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.)
    • If you’re using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature for medium-rare should be about 130-135°F (54-57°C).
  4. Rest the Beef:
    • Once cooked, let the beef rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.
  5. Serve:
    • Slice the beef against the grain for tenderness.
    • Serve as is, or with your choice of sides. It pairs well with roasted vegetables, a fresh salad, or even a creamy mashed potato.

Additional Tips:

  • Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper in the rub based on your heat preference.
  • The rub can also be used for other meats like pork or chicken.
  • Always let your meat rest after cooking to ensure it retains its juiciness.

This Coffee-Rubbed Beef will have a bold flavor profile with a slight hint of smokiness and a touch of sweetness, complemented by the rich, deep notes of Costa Rican coffee. It’s a great way to bring a unique twist to your beef dishes!