Grilled Steak with Coffee Spice Rub

This grilled steak with coffee spice rub is made by rubbing skirt steak with coffee, paprika, pepper, and cumin, and letting it rest before grilling. A simple easy way to make an outstanding steak from a less expensive cut.

A sliced grilled steak with coffee spice rub and a carving knife lying beside it

Adapted from Rick Rodgers | Tommy Bahama Flavors of Aloha | Chronicle Books, 2014

Who knew so few ingredients could conjure such big taste? Witness this grilled steak recipe rubbed with coffee spice rub, including paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper.–Renee Schettler

Grilled Steak with Coffee Spice Rub

A sliced grilled steak with coffee spice rub and a carving knife lying beside it
This grilled steak with coffee spice rub is made by rubbing skirt steak with coffee, paprika, pepper, and cumin, and letting it rest before grilling. A simple easy way to make an outstanding steak from a less expensive cut.
Rick Rodgers

Prep 10 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 45 mins
6 servings
317 kcal
4.85 from 13 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Tommy Bahama Flavors of Aloha cookbook

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  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt depending on personal preference
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee the more robust the coffee the better
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika preferably Spanish or Hungarian
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds skirt steak* or substitute flank steak
  • Extra-virgin olive oil


  • Whisk the salt, coffee, paprika, pepper, cumin, and cayenne together in a small bowl.
  • Lightly coat the steaks on both sides with oil. Generously sprinkle the steaks all over with the coffee spice rub and gently massage it in. Let the steaks stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  • Brush the grill grate clean. Cook the steaks directly over the flame, with the lid closed as much as possible, flipping the steaks halfway through cooking, until well browned, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a carving board and let rest for at least 5 minutes. With the knife held on a slight diagonal, carve the steaks across the grain. Transfer the slices and juices to a platter and serve hot.
4.85 from 13 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Tommy Bahama Flavors of Aloha cookbook

Want it? Click it.



This recipe is written specifically for skirt steak and, obviously, will be the best with that delish steak. However…if you can’t manage it, then a slab of flank steak will also make the cut. Both are leaner cuts that need to be prepared in the same way. Finally, chuck steak is another option that will come pretty close as long as you slice it thinly, across the grain.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 317kcal (16%)Carbohydrates: 1gProtein: 41g (82%)Fat: 17g (26%)Saturated Fat: 6g (38%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 119mg (40%)Sodium: 1871mg (81%)Potassium: 600mg (17%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 637IU (13%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 24mg (2%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This grilled steak with coffee spice rub was a great way to break in the grill for the year. The amount of coffee spice rub was just right for the meat, and it provided a highly seasoned result that was pretty to look at and really tasty. The coffee provides a deep, pleasantly charred quality that is a really interesting background flavor.

A great treatment for gas-grilled meat, which never really gets that "outside" taste like cooking over a fire does. We used this on flank steak instead of skirt, and the timing worked just fine—like skirt, flank does best on the rare side. I liked that this recipe didn't call for a prolonged period of sitting with the rub on; made steak dinner much more doable for a weeknight. Solid recipe!

This was really easy and a nice introduction to something other than just salt and pepper on a steak. I think skirt steak can dry out quickly, so pay close attention to the timing. I checked a corner when I took it off the grill and then again after letting it rest. Keep in mind that more residual cooking takes place than you may realize during the short rest time. I used all the spice rub—I thought I was going to be short, but the oil allows it to cover the steak more completely than if it was a dry rub. I will definitely make this again and plan to try it on other types of steak. It would go well with guacamole, some pico de gallo, and grilled vegetables.

Who doesn't love a good grilled steak recipe? And this is a good one. The coffee spice rub is easy to put together, and we used a bold Colombian dark roast coffee in the rub. Skirt steak is difficult to find where we live, so I used a 1 1/2-kilogram flank steak, which is readily available.

I used the entire rub on the steak, as I coated the pieces generously. The grilling time was 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side for a perfect rare to medium-rare steak. The coffee in the rub gave a depth to the crust. We enjoyed the slight heat from the cayenne and the earthiness of the paprika, but we all found it a touch salty. When I make this rub again, I'll decrease the amount of salt to 1 tablespoon, which I think will make it perfect.

This grilled steak with coffee rub recipe was really tasty, although I have to admit I couldn't get my hands on skirt steak and had to make this with rump instead. If you're in the same boat, worry not! I used about 2 pounds steak, cut into 3 big pieces. The amount of coffee spice rub was perfect for this amount of meat.

It took 5 minutes to get the meat prepped, 25 minutes to let it marinate, and then I heated up the grill. After just under 5 minutes of cooking, the steaks were basically medium-well, so I wish I'd pulled them a minute earlier. I'd never used coffee in a rub before—it gave the steak an interesting texture and helped boost the smokiness, but it was overpowered slightly by the cumin (not a bad thing, in my book—I love cumin).

This grilled steak with coffee rub recipe makes a simple, satisfying spice rub for steak using ingredients that you likely already have in your possession, though I’d use a higher ratio of ground coffee next time to truly advertise it as a coffee rub (only one out of the three of us really detected any coffee). The spice rub mixture sufficiently flavored the steak without overwhelming it.

The recipe is a cinch to make, and you could easily swap other proteins. Finding even 1 pound of skirt steak, let alone for a reasonable price, turned out to be quite the wild-goose (-cow?) chase, but damn it if it wasn’t one heck of a juicy steak in the end. Since I only had 1 1/2 pounds steak, I didn’t use all the rub—I probably had 1 1/2 tablespoons left and felt it was sufficiently seasoned. My grill wasn’t starting, so I used a grill pan, uncovered.

If this grilled steak with coffee rub recipe could have been described with only two words, they would be "ay, caramba!" It had the amazing taste of the spices with an aftertaste of coffee. Delicious!

Originally published May 24, 2015


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  1. 5 stars
    Wow, this is a good rub!! Mine didn’t really “crust” on the steak like another reviewer mentioned, but it did stick. I couldn’t find flank steak so I used it on top sirloin. YUM!! I rubbed the steak thoroughly with melted refined coconut oil, and then rubbed & patted on the seasonings thoroughly. I then seared it in a very hot pan for 2-3 min on each side (to achieve a medium rare state). Also, just an FYI, if you are concerned that the ingredients of this rub will create an overly strong flavor, you’re wrong. Even though it has coffee, cumin and cayenne pepper in it, it offers a subtle, yet distinct flavor. Very, very good!

    1. Thanks, Muzzy! We so appreciate you taking the time to share your experience.

  2. 5 stars
    A simple, yet robust rub! Loved the way it crusted on the steak. We had a nice 2-pound grass-fed flank steak and this was the perfect rub for it!

  3. 5 stars
    It was delicious! I don’t like marinades as I want the flavor of the steak to come through. I didn’t use all of the rub but gave it a good coating. It was great, husband and kids even loved it! WIN.

    1. We’re delighted to hear that, Smith. Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know.

    1. We agree, Rowe! When it comes to grilled steak, you can never have too much!

  4. 5 stars
    Everyone loved this rub. I put it on flap meat and it was excellent , some of the best tasting ribs I have had.

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