Coffee Meat Marinade (Recipes for Beef, Chicken, and Pork)

by Scott Deans | Last Updated: March 31, 2021

Entertaining friends or family always calls for something a bit special and an expertly cooked piece of meat can be just the ticket. A tough steak can ruin the whole experience for everyone and can cause your meal to go down in family history, but not in a good way!

Interestingly, the delicious drink that we all know and love, coffee can come to the rescue here. Coffee can make the perfect meat tenderizer, from coffee grounds for a meat rub to brewed coffee as a marinade. The acids in coffee help loosen up the meat without imparting a strong flavor.

To help you to be remembered for only delicious food, I’ll explain why coffee is such a good meat marinade and how to use it. I’ve also included my 3 favorite coffee meat combinations; beef brisket, pulled pork, and chicken drumsticks you can make these delicious meals at home.

Read on to find out more.

Tenderizing Meat

What Causes Tough Meat

Alongside the main body of the muscle that we eat as meat, there’s always fat and connective tissue present. Connective tissue is the broad term for tendons, ligaments, and the collagen that holds the muscle fibers together. The more fine layers of fat that are marbled between the muscle fibers make a juicy and tasty cut of meat. The more connective tissue you have the tougher the cut will be.

The main thing that causes toughness in meat is not selecting a tender cut. T-bone, rib-eye, and sirloin steak are tender cuts of beef where brisket, rump steak, and shoulder roast are inherently tougher.

The cooking process will also affect the toughness of your steak. Cooking for too long and a high temperature dehydrates the meat and makes it tough and flavorless. On the other hand, stewing a tough piece of meat slowly on a low heat can actually tenderize it.

How To Tenderize Meat

For a tougher cut of meat, there are a few things you can do to tenderize it and make it more succulent. Hitting it with a meat tenderizer, rolling pin, or mallet will help break up the muscle fibers make it juicier. Another way to achieve this is to marinate the meat in something salty, acidic, or an enzymatic fruit (like pineapple) to help break through those tough fibers.

Brewed Coffee As A Marinade

This is where coffee fits into the story. Coffee contains acidic compounds that can help tenderize meat when used as a marinade. You can place your cut of meat in a container of brewed coffee (use cold coffee) and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours before you cook it. The meat will be lovely and tender and it won’t hold onto a strong coffee flavor.

Coffee Grounds Rub

Another way you can use coffee to tenderize meat is to use the coffee grounds as a meat rub. This will tenderize it similarly to brewed coffee and can form a thick crust on the outside of the meat when you cook it. The only thing to be wary of is that the roasting of the coffee grounds can cause them to become quite bitter so it’s not an ideal flavor for everyone.

Instant Coffee Rub

Using instant coffee as a meat rub similar to ground coffee removes the bitter element and can make the end result a lot sweeter. Simply add the grounds to your next meat rub recipe to see how delicious it is for yourself.

Beef Brisket

Delicious Coffee Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket

Beef is the classic choice when it comes to a coffee meat marinade. This recipe here is perfect for a brisket ready to smoke or BBQ.
Prep Time 9 hrs
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Resting Time 30 mins
Total Time 10 hrs 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • Oven
  • Roasting Tin
  • Sealed Container

Ingredients
  

  • 4 tbsp Ground Coffee (or instant)
  • 2 tbsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 2 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Corriander
  • 0.5 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Mix this all together to form a clump-free powder. Rub into the meat and store in a sealed container in the fridge overnight prior to cooking.
  • Take the meat out of the fridge an hour before cooking.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 300F/150C and place the meat on a rack, fat side up, in a large roasting tin. Cover with foil. Make sure there is space between the meat and foil.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 1h 15minutes per pound of meat until the internal temperature reaches 185F/85C at the thickest point of the brisket.
  • Place the meat on a cutting board with a layer of foil covering it and let rest for 30 minutes. To serve, cut the meat against the grain.

Chicken Drumsticks

Delicious Coffee Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken Drumsticks

You can marinate chicken drumsticks in a coffee-brine solution to give the juiciest, most tender meat straight off the BBQ or the broiler.
Prep Time 4 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 5 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • Broiler and Oven (or BBQ)
  • A Large Bowl for Mixing

Ingredients
  

  • 8 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 1.5 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Cups Sea Salt
  • 3 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon (or a Cinnamon Stick)

Instructions
 

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the chicken and place it in the fridge for 2-4 hours.
  • Discard the brine and place the chicken on a grill pan.
  • Preheat the broiler on medium-low heat and place the chicken 4-6 inches from the heat. Broil for 10 minutes on each side until browned. You can also cook them on the BBQ.
  • Place on an oven tray and bake at 350F until chicken is cooked through/no pinkness is visible when you cut the meat (may take around ½ an hour).
  • Eat immediately once cooked.

Pulled Pork

Delicious Coffee Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

For a coffee-infused pulled pork, you’ll need a pork shoulder joint.
Make up the marinade the day before.
Prep Time 9 hrs
Cook Time 5 hrs
Resting Time 1 hr
Total Time 15 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • A Slow Cooker (or an Oven)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Cup Brewed Coffee
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder

Instructions
 

  • Mix all these ingredients together and let the pork sit in the mixture overnight in the cooking pot.
  • Cook in a slow cooker on the lowest setting or in the oven at 120C/250F for around 90 minutes per pound of meat. Monitor the internal temperature (with a probe-thermometer) and make sure it rises above 175F/73C to ensure it’s thoroughly cooked.
  • Let the meat rest for at least 1 hour.
  • Shred it with a fork to give that lovely pulled pork effect. Mix the shredded meat with the juices from the cooking pot to maximize flavor.

Final Thoughts

Coffee and meat are a match made in heaven. The coffee helps tenderize the meat so you’ll never suffer a tough meal again. Let me know what you think of the recipes in the comments below.

Happy Cooking!

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Can you guess what keeps me up at night? You guessed it! Copious amounts of coffee beans. What? I brew them first.