Twice Rubbed Coffee Encrusted Steak

Mon. April 30, 2012 12:00 AM
by Brad Mercil

I'm not a real big steak guy, I don't walk into a restaurant or char house and think gimme' a big piece of beef. I am, however, a big coffee guy. Anything with coffee in it and I'm all over it. So one night we were at Wildfire and they serve a coffee-encrusted steak. You guessed it - I went for it! The steak was nicely cooked and the coffee flavor came through. The crust on the steak was a little too powdery as it didn't stick to the steak real well. As usual, I was intrigued and started thinking that I could really do something with this.

So what would go into a coffee rub for steak? Beef has some pretty big bold flavors all on its own so we'll need something that can stand up to the beef and yet complement it at the same time. Coffee for starters, cocoa powder because coffee and chocolate go so well together. Then I dipped into my barbeque rub recipe for the next few ingredients like cumin, chili powder, black pepper, cinnamon and allspice.

In order to get the dry rub to stick there needed to be some kind of glue. How about a sticky paste? Tomatoes go well with steak so some tomato paste would work and I remembered that fish sauce always helps bring out the beefy flavor. But then I needed something really sticky to hold it altogether, I started digging around in the refrigerator and found some apricot preserves. Perfect! Now I had my sticky glue.

When I applied the wet rub I placed the steaks on a large plate and then flipped them over. That was a mistake as all the wet rub stuck to the and plate I had to get a rubber spatula out and salvage the rub from the plate. It was at this point that I used my French fry draining technique. I placed a large wire rack into a quarter sheet pan then set the steaks on the wire rack, reapplied the wet rub to both sides and let them sit for one hour.

I remembered watching several chefs cook whole fish on the grill where they would score the fish and then aggressively rub spices into the filet. I decided to score the steak in hopes that the spice rub would stick in the small grooves. I also remembered watching a Japanese chef season his steaks and then right before grilling he sprayed the steaks with sesame oil to get the spices to bloom. Since sesame oil had just a little too much flavor, I substituted canola oil spray.

Let's talk about steak cuts for a minute. Everybody has their favorite cut when it comes to steak here's some basic guidelines:

Filet - the most tender cut that comes directly from the beef tenderloin and it's also the most expensive. It does not have as much steak flavor because there is usually little or no *marbling.

Rib eye - this is also a very tender cut and is known for its marbling that helps keep the steak juicy and full of flavor.

Strip - also known as New York or Kansas City, presents big bold steak flavors without the bone and lots of marbling.

T-Bone or Porterhouse - these cuts have a filet and a strip portion separated by the bone.

Sirloin - this is the least expensive cut. Always try to look for top-sirloin as these cuts are best served when you have a marinade or a tenderizing rub to apply before grilling.

*Marbling - lines of fat running through the cut

Here's a cooking chart from Omaha Steaks that shows you in minutes how long to cook your steak.

Doneness Guide - the internal temperature for your steak in Fahrenheit

Rare - 125' f
Medium Rare - 135' f
Medium - 145' f
Medium Well - 155' f
Well Done - 165' f

When you're done grilling your coffee steaks, place them back on the wire rack and wrap the sheet pan in aluminum foil. Let the steak(s) sit for 3 to 5 minutes then serve and enjoy one of the most flavorful steaks that you're ever had.

So let's get started.....


Twice Rubbed Coffee Encrusted Steak


2 kinds of rub

Wet Rub


1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon apricot preserves
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Dry Rub


4 - 6 teaspoons ground coffee (you can use decaf)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Canola oil spray

**This recipe makes enough rub for two one pound steaks.


For the wet rub, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. For the dry rub, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Using a sharp knife scrap each side of the steak to remove any gristle, rinse the steaks and pat dry with paper towels. Score the steaks about a 16th of an inch deep by a half inch apart in a criss cross pattern.

Rub each side of the steak with the wet rub and place the steak on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet or sheet pan. Let the steaks sit at room temperature for one hour.

For a gas grill, turn all burners to high and allow grill to heat until it reaches 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Clean and oil the grates.

While the grill is heating, generously coat one side of the steak with the dry rub. Be sure to press the dry rub into the steak so that it adheres. Lightly spray the steak with canola oil spray. Turn the steak over and repeat this process on the other side.


Place steaks on the hottest part of the grill and close the lid. Do not peek at the steaks; opening the lid causes the grill to lose heat and will extend the cooking time. Using the cooking chart above, turn the steaks after the first side is cooked. Close the lid and finish cooking the other side. Remove the cooked steaks to the wire rack and sheet pan, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.