Surprising and oh-so-delicious ways to cook with coffee

Coffee is a great ingredient to use when cooking due to its high acidity and powerful flavour. Picture: Pexels/Kelly

Coffee is a great ingredient to use when cooking due to its high acidity and powerful flavour. Picture: Pexels/Kelly

Published Jun 27, 2024


Although coffee is typically enjoyed as a morning beverage, it can be used to enhance recipes by adding a deep and rich flavour.

Coffee can even be used as a secret ingredient in variety of chocolate baked goods. It’s also a great ingredient to use when cooking, due to its high acidity and powerful flavour. Adding coffee to your recipes can add to the complexity of the flavour overall.

Use coffee like you use spices and try adding it to soups, stews and marinades to see how it blends with other flavour profiles to create a more complex and delicious result.

You can even try adding a sprinkle of coffee grounds to your next cheeseboard to see how it can improve the strong cheese flavours.

Below are some of ways to cook with coffee that you probably haven't tried yet.

Tiramisu uses espresso to ensure the coffee flavours stay intact. Picture: Pexels/Minche

Enhance the flavour of fajitas

Do you like a little gravy with your beef fajitas? Try this: pan-fry beef strips and vegetables in olive oil. Season to taste. Add a splash of lime juice and a splash of leftover brewed coffee. Thicken with cornstarch or arrowroot powder and serve.

Make tiramisu

Tiramisu is one of the world’s most well-known dessert. It’s a layered concoction of eggs, sugars, mascarpone, cocoa, lady finger biscuits – and coffee.

The name “tiramisu” comes from the Treviso dialect of north-eastern Italy. In the original form, “tireme su,” means “pick me up”. The dessert first appeared in 1800 in the city of Treviso, where it was served as a dessert by the madame of a bordello.

Tiramisu uses espresso to ensure the coffee flavours stay intact along with the other flavours.

Instant coffee is a great way to get a bitter coffee flavour into the mix when making dessert. Picture: Pexels/Almapapi

Make ice cream

Whether you are making coffee-flavoured ice cream or adding coffee to plain vanilla, instant coffee is a great way to get that bitter coffee flavour into the mix.

In Italy, they often serve espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, known as an affogato. You can easily make a nice strong, thick syrup of instant coffee and pour it over a scoop of vanilla or another flavour of ice cream and serve it in a coffee cup.

Use coffee as a spice rub

If you brew coffee at home, you know that you always have just a bit left over. Rather than toss it into the trash, add it to your spice shelf.

The combination of ground coffee, salt and paprika will add an instant buzz to your dishes. You can give burgers the steak treatment and rub them in coffee grounds and spices before grilling.

Coffee also pairs particularly well with meats like pork, beef and fish, to add an earthy flavour to the dish.

As a bonus to the flavour pairings, coffee can help to tenderise meat. This gives you a more enjoyable end result with less uncomfortable chewing and is generally applied as a dry spice rub directly onto the meat, with the excess being brushed off before consuming.

Alcohol and coffee go famously together. Picture: Pexels/Mark Von Arb

Use it in cocktails

Alcohol and coffee go famously well together. The world-famous Irish coffee is a great example of this. But it is not limited to just hot cocktails, there are cold ones as well. Adding a shot of coffee to a spicy drink will give it that extra kick that we all love.

Coffee goes well with a wide range of alcohol. Rum, whiskey and brandy are all excellent choices for recipes with coffee. If dark spirits aren’t your thing, then we recommend going with something lighter. A great cocktail needs a great-tasting coffee.

Experts note that any brand of coffee will do the job, but when it comes to something as exquisite as a cocktail, you need to be a bit specific. Recipes with coffee grounds require high-quality roasted beans.

Legumes and other combinations

Coffee, with its complex aroma – ranging from smoked to slightly sour notes – is an extremely versatile food that lends itself well to the most daring combinations.

Why not try it with kidney beans? Braise them with pieces of pork, onion, and garlic in a red wine and coffee-based sauce. And finally, for a slightly unusual yet classy snack, take some of your favourite chips and sprinkle them with grated Gruyère, a few drops of vanilla oil, and a pinch of ground coffee.

Deglaze a pan with it

If you are making a stew, a carnivorous dish like meatballs, or have to sear items before slowly cooking them, your pan is likely covered in golden bits of tastiness.

Often, cooks pour the liquid into the pan and scrape those bits up before adding the savoury liquid to the dish or using it to make a sauce. This process is called deglazing, and generally, it involves wine, beer, or stock. We urge you to try this with leftover coffee.