Smokey Coffee Barbecue Sauce

You know when you have a good idea, and you work on it, and it just doesn’t come out as you planned? That’s how I came up with this recipe for Smokey Coffee Barbecue Sauce. I worked on a coffee marinade for a few weeks, and it just wasn’t going how I wanted it to go. I kept trying to replicate the first version I made, but every time I was off. So I quit trying on that recipe, for a while anyway. But I tried something else, and it worked out so beautifully and made this recipe for Smokey Coffee Barbecue Sauce I am now happy I messed it up. Enjoy the fruits of my (many) mistakes.

You know I love coffee, and I wanted to make it into a marinade. The first time I tried it, I was winging it, and I honestly can’t duplicate it. It’s so frustrating to make something correctly one time and ruin it on every other occasion. While I was being frustrated with marinades that were too acidic or too sweet, I decided I like the flavor of coffee with grilled meat. It’s a perfect match. Deep coffee flavor and grilling go hand in hand.

Coffee Coffee Coffee

If you don’t have coffee on hand or you don’t drink I coffee I can’t recommend espresso powder enough. It’s a lifesaver for anything that needs a profound umami boost of flavor. Beef, in my opinion, always benefits from a bit of coffee. Especially in a pot roast or stew, it’s the perfect addition. I like to have extra coffee on hand for iced coffee in the afternoon, so for me, it’s usually not a problem. But I also keep espresso powder as well; you can’t be too careless with your coffee levels you know.

Smokey Coffee Barbecue Sauce

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 cups


  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup coffee leftover, hot or espresso powder
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar more if you like it sweeter
  • 1 tsp smoke flavor
  • salt to taste


  • Stir together everything
  • cook slowly until reduced by about half, 20-30 minutes
  • taste as you go and add more salt or sugar as desired
  • brush on grilled meat in the last 10-15 minutes of grilling


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