BBQ Recipe Secrets

Introducing Espresso Barbecue Sauce

Like a little coffee with your BBQ? Try this java-fortified espresso barbecue sauce recipe.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

A few weeks ago, I experimented with a little something known as espresso barbecue sauce.

Now, this was something I'd never even imagined until I heard about its use in the northeastern states. As you may know, regional sauces are not uncommon: Memphis, Texas, and Kansas City barbecue traditions all have their unique sauces, and of course Alabama's got its tasty mayo-based white sauce.

A Sauce All Its Own

You may not be aware that the New York/New Jersey region and surrounding areas have their own barbecue traditions. Don't be shocked -- barbecue transcends all boundaries. In any case, at some point someone up there seems to have tossed some strong coffee into the saucepan.

This is, of course, an assumption on my part. My research on the subject pointed almost exclusively toward New York City and Jersey, but for all I know the caffeinated genesis may have occurred in Oklahoma or California. Whatever the source, the result was the abovementioned espresso-flavored BBQ sauce.

I'll be straight with you: this stuff won't appeal to everyone. I, however, am rather fond of the taste of America's favorite caffeine delivery system, and find the sauce's flavor intriguing, especially when brushed onto a rack of ribs. It's dark and dangerous and a bit bitter... like any good espresso.

The Heck With Decaf!

The great thing about caffeine-flavored barbecue sauce is that it's very easy to make, assuming you have an everyday tomato-based sauce lying around. Let's assume you do, if you'd rather cook it up in about 10 minutes instead of two hours. If that's okay with you, here's what you'll need to make a big batch:

2 onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of paprika
2 tablespoons of cumin
3 teaspoons of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
6 cups of standard barbecue sauce (your choice of homemade or commercial)
1 cup of water
2 cups of espresso

Combine all the ingredients in a large stock pot and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken. This should take about 15-20 minutes.


Just as espresso-flavored barbecue sauce isn't for everyone, the finished product isn't for every meat. For example, it's not my favorite with seafood; and as for poultry, I haven't had good results with chicken.

While I haven't tried it yet, I suspect it might work better with darker-meated, gamier fowl, such as duck and wild turkey. Write in and let me know!

I believe this sauce works best with brisket, ribs, and pulled pork. The rich, dark undertones of espresso barbecue sauce really bring out and enhance the flavors of these meats.

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