Home / Phil Howard's ten top tips for cooking with coffee

Phil Howard's ten top tips for cooking with coffee

Phil Howard's ten top tips for cooking with coffee


1.      Be open-minded about how to use coffee in your cooking. See coffee as simply another ingredient as opposed to the drink we have come to love! Coffee – like chocolate - is used in cooking in its regions of origin, and with careful use can enhance both savoury and sweet dishes. It brings a magnificent aroma enhancing its heavyweight background flavour.


2.      There are two ways to impart the flavour of coffee into dishes. The first is with espresso, which is the more aggressive and requires strong, bold flavours to deal with it. It also mellows with cooking and in doing so helps to bring out key flavours of the other ingredients of the dish. The second is the addition of coffee grounds to the dish, which imparts more of an aroma than an intense flavour.


3.      Coffee is most successful in savoury cooking when included in recipes which have inherent sweetness already present in them (like spare ribs) – or where the dish would be served with a sweet accompaniment (like chicken liver parfait with a fruity chutney).


4.      Coffees with a touch of Robusta, like Nespresso’s Ristretto Grand Cru, are often intense, with roasted notes. They provide rich cremas and their strength and richness goes well with the texture and flavour profile of desserts with cereal or toasted ingredients, or with granola style dishes.


5.      Coffee can be applied as a simple dressing to both sweet and savoury food and works particularly well with nut oils. A chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and a dressing of espresso and hazelnut oil works fantastically well, alternatively, check out my recipe for Tonka Brûlée with Nespresso Fortissio Lungo.


6.      Coffee works fantastically well with chocolate, but be sure to serve an intense and bitter coffee with a milk chocolate based dessert, or a mellower coffee with a bitter chocolate dish. This allows the pairings to balance and the flavours to sing loud and clear.


7.      Marinate meat that is to be chargrilled with some coffee grounds to achieve a simple and effective aromatic finish. This works particularly well with a sweet relish or sweet curry dressing


8.      Always add the coffee at the beginning of the cooking process rather than the end – this allows it to harmonise with the other flavours it is surrounded by and give the flavours added depth. You can really see how well this works with my recipe for Coffee Glazed Short Rib Of Beef with Creamed Potato and Roasted Carrots.


9.      To appreciate coffee as a more mellow flavour, incorporate it into rich, creamy desserts such as rice pudding or crème brûlée. People quite often enjoy milk in their coffee, and by blending the coffee with the richness of cream, and neutralising bitterness with sugar – a similar taste experience is achieved. 


10.  Use coffee as a seasoning in pastry work or desserts by adding small quantities of coffee grounds to biscuit mixes, pastry doughs or cakes.  It doesn’t have to be the dominant flavour if you don’t want it to be. Add it to recipes that have flavours which work well with coffee in the first place – such as those containing nuts, chocolate or orange.

See the recipes

Back to the main article