Coffee BBQ Sauce


J Shepherd / Photographer's Choice

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 3 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
78 Calories
1g Fat
18g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 78
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 254mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 4mg 19%
Calcium 38mg 3%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 204mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you find barbecue sauce off the supermarket shelf too sweet, try making your own for your next summer party or cookout. This sauce is moderately sweet and it’s quick and easy. All there is to it is to simmer all the ingredients, then process them in a blender. 

When you serve this sauce, ask around the table if anyone can guess the special ingredient in this sauce. Coffee is mainly associated with desserts but it also performs magic in savory dishes and sauces, adding depth, complexity, and an earthy, smoky component. 

The coffee should be strong. Other than espresso, you can also use other strong coffee. 

Fresh chile peppers are added for heat. Depending on how hot you like your barbecue sauce, you can use jalapeños or a hotter chile pepper. 

Removing the seeds makes a smoother sauce. Although the sauce is blended at the end, leaving the seeds in would turn the sauce slightly gritty. If you like the sauce extra smooth and you don’t mind adding an extra step, you can strain the sauce after blending. 

In addition to using it as a barbecue sauce, you can also use this as a marinade or finishing sauce for grilled or baked pork, beef, or chicken. 

If a full batch is too much, you can easily cut all the amounts in half. Leftovers of the sauce may also be stored in a jar and refrigerated for up to two weeks.


  • 1/2 cup brewed espresso, or strong dark coffee

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 3 fresh seeded hot chile peppers, such as jalapeño

  • 2 tablespoons dry hot mustard, mixed with 1 tablespoon warm water

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Put espresso or coffee, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, onion, garlic, chile peppers, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, and chili powder in a small pot, stir them together and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

  3. Lower the heat so the mixture is just simmering and let simmer for 20 minutes.

  4. Remove the pot from the heat, let the mixture cool.

  5. Puree in a blender.

  6. Use immediately or store for later use.

    Use Caution When Blending Hot Ingredients

    Steam expands quickly in a blender, and can cause ingredients to splatter everywhere or cause burns. To prevent this, fill the blender only one-third of the way up, vent the top, and cover with a folded kitchen towel while blending.


  • This barbecue sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Recipe Source: Chef Michael Lomonaco, Noche Restaurant, New York, NY.
Reprinted with permission.