coffee marinated kabobs

Coffee: It will also wake up your steaks

The first time I ordered a steak marinated in coffee at a restaurant I was so excited. (Coffee has to be one of my favorite foods.)  But there was no real coffee flavor. No vibrant zing. No buzz.  Then I remembered: coffee’s an acid, only slightly less acidic than wine and tomato (which you have to cook in a non-reactive vessel to avoid it’s picking up a metallic flavor.) So acid.  Enough to tenderize.  To get that acidity however, you need to make a stout cup of coffee.  I realize the rest of the world is drinking Triple Double Lattes with extra caffeine, but I can’t. John’s Aunt Pat used to bring instant coffee to stir into my house brew; these days I just set up a second coffee pot in the kitchen for guests and let them make their own.  And for the days I’m marinating with  it. Okay, I’m a wimp.  But this coffee kabob marinade isn’t.

This recipe is from Tenderize The Wild: my all marinade, brines and rub cookbook.  Here’s the link:

Spicy Coffee Marinated Kabobs

Serves 4


The Coffee Marinade Ingredients

24 hours ahead

  • 1 pound venison steaks, cut in 1½” chunks
  • 1 cup strong coffee, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper*

Put the steak chunks and marinade ingredients in a re-sealable plastic bag and refrigerate 24 hours. When you take the meat out to cook, don’t rinse the marinade off.

Rest of the Ingredients

  • 2 cloves elephant garlic, peeled, trimmed and sliced ⅛” thick**
  • 1 whole shallot, peeled, trimmed and sliced ⅛” thick**
  • 10 mini-sweet peppers (red, orange and yellow), stemmed and halved lengthwise


  1. Preheat a propane grill to medium-hot, 350 to 400°F.   Alternately, start your coals. When they are covered with white ash–the vast majority of them, not just a few–spread them out for cooking.  When the cooking surface is hot, give it a good scraping with your grill brush, then wipe it with oil.  (Tongs and a folded up square of paper towel, with 2 tablespoons of oil will do the job safely, and if you do it every time, you’ll season your grill, just like you’d season cast iron
  2. Remove the steak chunks from the coffee marinade, and arrange them on the skewers, alternating veggies and meat until you’ve used them all.  Put them on the grill.  Cook about 10 minutes total, turning only once after about 6 or 7 minutes.
  3. Take the kabobs off the grill when a meat thermometer reads 125° for rare, 130° for medium rare and 135° for medium.  (There won’t be very much counter rise at all, given the size of the meat.)
  4. Serve on the skewers or slide the meat and veggies off the skewers onto a platter. Either way, they’ll look and taste wonderful.

*More cayenne to taste, up to about 1 teaspoon, but remember the cayenne isn’t the only heat in this recipe.  Ginger and coriander are also pretty spicy.  It’s just that cayenne’s heat is fiery.

**Shallots are a variety of onion while elephant garlic, obviously, is in the garlic family. But both are much milder than their more commonly used brethren. Plus each clove in an elephant garlic head is about 10 times the size of a standard garlic clove–big enough to actually slice and stick on a skewer without having it fall apart on the grill.

1 reply
  1. Jim Rich
    Jim Rich says:

    Tried this recipe this week & it came out terrific! I used steak from a mule deer and a desert bighorn sheep. I grilled it over coals on my old-school Kingsford bbq grill. Heed the recipe to slice the elephant garlic 1/8″ thick. I didn’t and the garlic was a bit strong!


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