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

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

Grilled Steak with Coffee Spice Rub

4.85 / 19 votes
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.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories317 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • 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.


*What is a good substitution for skirt steak?

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.
Flavors of Aloha cookbook.

Adapted From

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 317 kcalCarbohydrates: 1 gProtein: 41 gFat: 17 gSaturated Fat: 6 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 119 mgSodium: 1871 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Rick Rodgers. Photo © 2014 Peden + Munk. All rights reserved.

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!

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. 5 stars
    I saw David make this on his Instagram and i knew I had to do it, too. It is soooo easy and is delicious. It took no time to make. We served it with potato salad, your blackened green beans, and your Homemade French vanilla ice cream. No complaints here!!