Coffee: It's a Spice. Really.

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If you want to use coffee in your own kitchen, it's easiest to sneak it in when you're grilling or barbecuing. Try mixing it in with favorite spices like cayenne, black pepper, paprika, and cumin. For a lighter rub, like for chicken or seafood, you might want to add herbs or even citrus zest. And, as with your morning cup of Joe, a spoonful of brown sugar will really bring out the coffee's flavor.

When using coffee as a spice, it's best to use a full-flavored dark roast, and as for all spices, go to the very best source. Luckily, I recently grabbed some beans from The Roastery of Cave Creek, my favorite local roasters. Not only do they roast incredible quality coffees, but they're good guys too. When I happened into their roasting room a few months ago looking for a latte, they sent me away with a free bag of the Black & Tan roast and let me know a little secret: They always keep bags of coffee hidden out front under the grill top, so stop by, pick up a bag or two, and leave $10 per pound in the mail slot. And yes, there's a camera, so please pay -- it's a great price.

Now that you've driven out to Cave Creek just to pick up some coffee (ok, maybe not), it's time to put it to good use in the kitchen. We tested this recipe for Coffee-Rubbed BBQ Cheeseburgers from Bon Appétit, and it is definitely a winner, especially with minor adjustments. Don't expect the coffee taste to be prominent, but the rub will add great flavor to the beef. And you'll be proud to have made restaurant-style burgers in your own backyard.

Coffee rub:

1 rounded tablespoon freshly ground coffee 2 teaspoons (packed) golden brown sugar 1.5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


8 slices applewood-smoked bacon 1 pound ground chuck (preferably grass-fed) 1 pound ground sirloin (preferably grass-fed) 8 slices smoked provolone, smoked caciocavallo, or smoked Gouda cheese 8 hamburger buns

Cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Break in half. Gently mix chuck and sirloin in large bowl. Form meat into 8 patties, each 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter and 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Using thumb, make slight indentation in center of each burger. DO AHEAD: Burgers and bacon can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover separately and chill.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle 1 teaspoon coffee rub on top side of each burger. Place burgers, rub side down, on grill rack. Grill until slightly charred, about 4 minutes; turn.

Place 2 bacon slice halves atop each burger. Cook 3 minutes.

Top each with 1 cheese slice. Cover and cook until cheese melts, about 1 minute longer. Place burgers atop bottom halves of buns. Top with onion slices and tomato slices. Spoon dollop of Texas Barbecue Sauce over. Cover with bun tops and serve, passing additional sauce alongside.

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Dominique Chatterjee