Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
September 28, 2022

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Coffee introduces intriguing complexity when used in in dry or wet rubs, marinades, stews, chilis, sauces and vinaigrettes. Consider experimenting with coffee varieties and stages of roasting, discovering the qualities best suited for imparting distinctive flavors specific to different menu items. Pair the boldness of coffee with equally strong flavors for optimal results.

Here, we infuse the complexity of coffee into modern comfort-centric dishes for signature results.


Use brewed coffee to enrich slow-cooked and simmered dishes with deeper notes, enticing roasted smoky nuances.

  • Brown Sugar Java Baked Beans: White beans + brewed coffee + brown sugar + molasses + ketchup + charred country ham bits + onion + seasonings
  • Coffee Buco: Veal shank + brewed coffee + chicken broth + tomato/onion/garlic/ginger + orange gremolata
  • Sunday Supper: Slow-roasted beef chuck pot roast + brewed coffee + beef broth + Dijon + carrots/parsnips/pearl onions/bliss potatoes
  • Robusta Meatballs: Seared and simmered pork shoulder/chorizo meatballs + brewed coffee tomato sauce + jalapeño + flat-leaf parsley + shaved Parmesan


Use the robust flavor of coffee concentrate to enliven meats, dressings and sauces with an assertive spin on comfort.

  • Barista Barbacoa Taco: Coffee concentrate-marinated and chipotle-ancho chile-braised beef chuck + onions/cilantro + finger lime pearls + corn tortillas
  • Café Brisket Salad: Chopped smoked brisket + roasted butternut squash + baby spinach + ricotta salata + rye croutons + black cherry-coffee vinaigrette
  • Mocha Mole Pork: Thick-sliced and slow-roasted pork loin + coffee-chocolate mole
  • Jolted Ribs: St. Louis ribs + buttered date syrup-coffee glaze + cracked black pepper


Use ground coffee texture to add immediate interest and rustic flair as a rub, cutting through fatty meats or feature flavored blends to richly season savory dishes with coffee brightness.

  • Gaucho Ribeye: Roasted boneless whole beef ribeye with dark coffee-sea salt rub + red chimichurri au jus
  • Coffeehouse Slider: Vanilla hazelnut coffee-crusted braised pork belly + Havarti cheese + sweet potato crisps + Hawaiian style bun
  • Espresso Beef Wellington: Puff pastry + thinly sliced prosciutto + espresso mushroom duxelles + seared beef tenderloin
  • Italian Primo Dog: Black Angus beef frank + roasted red pepper strips + black truffle oil-espresso aïoli + torpedo roll


Photo credit: Smithfield Culinary

Finely ground espresso gives backbone to this fragrant rub, made with ginger, coriander, brown sugar, smoked paprika and dried mustard. It’s featured on pork tenderloin, grilled on juicy and tender

Get the Recipe for Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin



About The Author

Rob Corliss

Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.