The flat cut of brisket makes for those long, beautiful slices that look so good on the plate. This cut has a lot less fat on it than a whole brisket, though, so it needs a little added moisture during the cooking process. Coffee adds a subtle flavor while helping keep things juicy as the brisket cooks itself to tenderness.

A flat-cut brisket such as this is a simpler piece of meat to cook than a big whole brisket, so this is a good place to start for someone new to cooking barbecue. Just don’t get one smaller than 5 pounds.–Ray Lampe

Smoked Brisket FAQs

What is indirect cooking?

Using an indirect heat source is a big part of brisket cooking technique. You can tame the flame by simply using a steel deflector or a big pan of water directly above the fire. Another way you can do this is by simply positioning the flames on one side of the brisket, then funneling the heat into the cooking chamber.

If none of these are possible, then you can actually just keep the food and the flame a good distance apart. Obviously, this is all dependent on the equipment you’re using.

As far as keeping the temperature low, you have a couple of options here too. Electric or gas is the simplest—just turn down the heat. Charcoal grills can be dealt with in two ways—either just build a small fire and feed it as needed. Otherwise, you can build a larger fire in one or two places and control the temperature with closed air vents to limit the oxygen.

What is flat cut brisket?

A whole brisket is comprised of the flat and the point. The flat is the larger piece, and it’s long and thin with a thick fat cap on top of it. It’s most often sold as brisket.

A full brisket will also have the point, which is thicker and has more fat marbled through it. The point cut is often used for grinding hamburger meat due to its higher fat content.

What should I serve with smoked brisket?

You definitely want to include potatoes of some kind, whether masala smashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, or Hasselback style. Other classic brisket sides include creamy coleslaw, grilled corn on the cob with chipotle butter, cider baked beans, and smoked mac and cheese.

A partially sliced smoked coffee brisket on a wooden cutting board with a meat fork resting beside it.

Smoked Coffee Brisket

4.75 / 4 votes
Smoked brisket with coffee takes a few of our favorite things and combines them into a meltingly tender, spicy, and smoky masterpiece.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories484 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time6 hours
Total Time7 hours 15 minutes


  • Smoker (optional)


  • One (5- to 6-pound) flat-cut brisket, fat left on
  • Your favorite store-bought or homemade BBQ rub
  • 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee, at room temperature


  • Prepare your cooker (gas or charcoal grill or barbecue smoker) to cook indirectly at 235°F (113°C), using hickory wood if you have a smoker.
  • Season the brisket liberally on all sides with the BBQ rub. Cook the brisket, fat side down, for 1 hour. Then flip it fat side up and cook to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C), another 3 to 4 hours.
  • Place 2 very large sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, one atop the other, on your work surface, long side facing you. Fold the right half of the foil over the left half, crease, and unfold. Remove the brisket from the cooker and leave the heat on. Place the brisket, fat side up, in the center of the left half of the foil. Turn the edges of the foil up to create a lip and pour the coffee over the brisket. Fold the other half of the foil over the brisket and crimp the edges shut. (Be careful not to pierce the foil. If you do, don’t freak. Just start over, wrapping the brisket in foil all over again.)
  • Return the foil-wrapped brisket to the cooker until it reaches 200°F (93°C). Begin checking the internal temperature of the brisket after 1 hour. When it’s ready, remove the brisket package from the heat, unwrap it, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Move the brisket to a cutting board. If desired, reserve the coffee mixture, skimming the fat from the surface of the liquid and serving the remaining juices as a sauce. Slice the brisket on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  • It's up to you if you want to serve the brisket straight from the cutting board or pile it on a platter.
The cover of the Slow Fire cookbook, featuring a sliced brisket

Adapted From

Slow Fire

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 484 kcalProtein: 65 gFat: 23 gSaturated Fat: 8 gCholesterol: 193 mgSodium: 247 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Ray Lampe. Photo © 2012 Leigh Beisch. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I really liked having the coffee mixed with meat juices to use as a sauce. It adds a bit of richness and complexity, without being sweet at all. I made the brisket in my Big Green Egg. The accessory called a “plate setter” (not sure why they call it that) helps adapt the Egg for indirect cooking.

The rub calls for turbinado sugar, which is usually coarse-grained, and kosher salt, which is also coarse. I found that these two ingredients in the rub had a tendency to fall off the meat, while the finer ground ingredients adhered. I like to make my rubs with finer-grained salt and sugar to avoid this problem, and that’s what I’d do with this rub in the future.

The other thing I’d do differently in this recipe is to cook the smoked coffee brisket with the fat side up during the entire cooking time, instead of starting with the fat down and flipping it. The timing given in the recipe was pretty accurate for my setup, but since this can vary depending upon the nature of your smoker and the shape of your cut of meat, you’ll need to monitor the internal temperature as you go.

We love smoked food, so we had to try this smoked brisket recipe. The rub is a perfect blend of sweetness, saltiness, and spiciness. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s one to use on all types of meats in the future.

The smoked coffee brisket was very tender but I think I should have cut down on the time. I used the full 4 hours and next time I’ll just use 3 hours and then wrap it in the foil. After 1 hour the temperature was already a little over 200°F.

The meat totally fell apart but was just a tad dry, but that was my fault as I really should have removed it earlier. Perhaps next time I’ll add a bit more coffee, too, as I didn’t taste it in the meat.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Would love to try this recipe at a friend’s house as they have a BBQ. Unfortunately, I am a visual person and cannot fathom how to wrap the brisket in the foil. I find that a step by step picture, like you did for the blueberry crumble, would go a long way to helping people like me not mess up the brisket and lose all that wonderful juice. Thanks.

    PS: I don’t own a BBQ or a smoker since it’s not allowed on the balcony of my condo. So, how to adapt to cooking this either the oven and a slow cooker. Thanks.

    1. Hello, Debbie. We’re working our way through all the recipes to add steps photos. But with almost 5,000 recipes, that’s going to take some time!

      But…since you’re not going be using a grill or smoker, here’s a SUGGESTED alternative. Please be aware I haven’t done this myself, but I think it will work.

      1. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder to the rub. This will eliminate the need for using coffee in the oven, and give you a great flavor.
      2. Slow roast the brisket at 250° on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, following the recipe. The rack of air to circulate around the meat, and the baking sheet prevents the fat from dripping on the floor of the oven
      3. In step 3, wrap the brisket in foil, and put it back in the 250° oven.
      4. Continue cooking until the meat has an internal temperature of 200°.

  2. I don’t want to end up with a spicy piece of meat, since I am cooking for some people with sensitive stomachs.I made a mistake once, not testing how spicy the chili powder was. Would hate to do it again. I have Ancho chili powder, which is supposed to be milder. Also Penzeys Chili 9000 and Chipotle chile. How much should I use? I don’t want to skip it completely

    1. Inge, if you have a sense of how spicy your chili powder is, you can adjust accordingly. I have an incredibly spicy one in my pantry, so I usually reduce the amount to about 25% of what is called for. You could start with 1 tablespoon in the rub, which is 1/3 of the original amount. Cut off a little cube of the meat, dust it with the spice rub and fry it up. Sample and decide if it needs more or if the heat level is good at that point.