Introduction: Coffee Jerky Marinade

About: Maker. Breaker. World Shaker.

I love many things in life but near the top of the list are what I would define as two primary food groups, coffee and jerky. Nothing makes my day more than an afternoon jerky snack, and a hot cup of coffee in the morning helps ensure that I reach that point.

Simple logic tells me that the only thing better than a good thing are two good things mashed together. So why not combine coffee and jerky? I had to try it.

Step 1: Disclaimer

I want to be very clear here. This Instructable is not a guide to making jerky. This is a guide to making jerky marinade, the key ingredient to any batch of mouth-watering, addicting jerky.

I am doing it this way because I have already written a comprehensive Instructable on my jerky-making process. It seems a bit repetitive to recap all of that again, but the process for making this marinade is significantly more involved than the one I used then.

The fundamentals (meat selection, slicing, drying, etc.) are all exactly the same so, if you are making jerky for the first time, read my other Instructable first, and then use this procedure in place of Steps #8-9.

Step 2: Grocery Run

Most of your general jerky-making supplies/ingredients are included in my original recipe. The items below are what you will need in addition to those. Please note that this recipe replaces the Stubb's marinade used in the original.

Here is your grocery list for this recipe:

  • 2 cups dark roast coffee (brewed) --- no added flavors, i.e. vanilla, hazelnut, etc.
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Ground Coffee --- same as above
  • 5 Tbsp Liquid Smoke --- I like the Mesquite flavor
  • 1/4 cup Ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt

And a few things around the kitchen:

  • Resealable Bowl --- for spice rub. You should already have one for marinade.
  • Measuring cup (1/4 cup)
  • Tablespoon

Step 3: The Spice Is Right

The key player in this whole thing is the potent spice rub. To make it, simply combine the ground coffee (1/4 cup), ancho chili powder (1/4 cup), brown sugar (1/4 cup), smoked paprika (2 TBSP), cumin (1 TBSP), and kosher salt (2 TBSP) in a small bowl.

Step 4: Paprika Pulverizer

Nothing would ruin your coffee jerky experience more than biting into a smoked paprika boulder. These clumps also don't stick to the meat very well. Break up any clumps and mix until everything is evenly blended. Set it aside for the time being.

Step 5: Marinade in the Shade

An important component of an effective marinade for me is something that is fluid enough to be absorbed into the strips of meat. Effective saturation of the meat ensures a bolder, longer lasting flavor that you just can’t recreate with just spices on the surface.

Brew two cups of coffee and let it cool down to around room temperature (we’re not ready to cook the meat yet!). Combine with liquid smoke in your marinade bowl.

Step 6: Define Your Level of Coffee Addiction

You are now at an important crossroads in this procedure. There are some slight variations to the recipe depending on how bold of a coffee flavor you desire. The question that will determine which way you go is, how much do you really like coffee?

Rate yourself on the following scale:

0 – Coffee is disgusting, why am I even reading this?

1 – I like the smell of coffee, but I don’t drink it.

2 – Not a big coffee drinker, but this intrigues me...

3 - I like coffee & I like jerky, but am unsure about this strange combination

4 – I’m drinking coffee right now, Starbucks Gold Card holder

5 – Coffee fiend, I eat whole beans for breakfast

Remember your rating. You will need it in the next couple steps.

Step 7: The Soak

I'm a firm believer that a good marinade is the most important component of a delicious batch of jerky, so this step is crucial. Typically, I try to take all of the guesswork out of marinades by making them the exact same every time. However, in the situation, I realize that we all have different tastes. Some of us like coffee more than others, so our marinade needs to reflect that.

The #1 flavor contributor in this recipe is the spice rub, so turning it up/down will make all the difference. The simplest way to "cut" the boldness of the spice rub is to add some of it to the marinade. This works by basically taking some of the rub out of the game. After a good mixing, the suspended spices will find their way onto your meat slices, but a lot of them will settle out on the bottom and not contribute much. This may seem a bit wasteful, but it's the easiest way.

As you have probably already gathered, holding back some spice rub and applying it directly to the meat before drying will kick the coffee flavor into overdrive. So, consider the mild:bold ratio proportional to the spice rub in marinade:spice rub saved for later ratio.

If you rated yourself a 0 then, seriously, why are you still here? It's OK, we'll let you hang on for the ride.

If you rated yourself from 1-2, then you may not be ready to go all-in on this yet. What you are looking for is something a bit more mild. Add all of your rub to the marinade. This way the brewed coffee/liquid smoke will dominate the flavor.

If you are hovering around a 3-4 then let's dial it back a bit on the rub. Add about 2/3 of the rub to your marinade, and save the rest for later.

Finally, if you are a fanatical 5 on the coffee scale, then just drop in those strips and don't touch the rub yet. We're going to put it to good use soon.

Once you have added the proper amount of rub to your marinade, mix it up thoroughly, add your strips, cover, and let soak in the refrigerator for around 12 hours.

Step 8: Rub a Dub Dub

With our pieces out of their long bath, it is time to use up any spice rub you have left before they hit the rack. As previously mentioned, the amount of rub applied directly to the strips will determine how bold the flavor is. More rub = more coffee.

If you rated yourself between 0-2, then you shouldn't have any rub left. However, it is a good idea to ensure some of the spices get on the strips as you remove them from the bowl. Dragging them through the settled spices on the bottom should do the trick. Otherwise, you can skip right ahead to the next step!

If you rated yourself from 3-4 then you should have a small amount of rub left. Use it to cover one side of each strip by either lightly sprinkling it on after you add them to the trays (in the next step), or by literally rubbing one side of each piece in a bowl of rub.

If you are going all in as a 5 then just smother those strips in rub. Remove them from the marinade, let them drip off a bit, then dunk them in. Beware, this gets messy and inevitably you will get some slushy mess in the bottom of your bowl. All the spices caked on these pieces are practically going to brew coffee in your mouth later and it's going to be amazing!

Step 9: Rack 'Em and Stack 'Em

Once all of your pieces are coated in rub (or not) then add them to the drying racks as detailed in Step 10 of my other Instructable.

If you chose to keep your hands (and the soaked strips) out of your rub in the previous step, then this is the point at which you can sprinkle some on your pieces. You can also add any other spices, such as coarse ground black pepper, at this time.

There's not much left between you and your coffee jerky fusion!!!

Step 10: Dry and Enjoy

From here on out you can follow the guidelines in my other jerky Instructable (Steps 11-16). Keep a close eye on it to make sure it dries properly, bag it up, and share some with others. I have shared this recipe with a few of my trusted "jerky test panel" and it has been an instant hit.

As I’ve said before, the best part about making jerky is eating it with your friends!

Step 11: Thanks

Thank you so much for checking out this Instructable! I hope that this recipe will spice up your next batch of jerky with some fresh flavor!

Or, if this is your first time trying to make jerky, I hope that you will go check out my original recipe and guide so you nail it on the first try. Making jerky is fun, rewarding, can save you some $$$, and you have complete freedom to make interesting flavors such as this one. I've been hooked for years!

If you like my work please subscribe, follow, send me a message, or go check out some of my other projects. Thanks again!

Snacks Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Snacks Contest 2016

Slow Food Contest

Participated in the
Slow Food Contest