Coffee Rubbed Ribs with Espresso BBQ Sauce

Two of my favorite things in life are Ribs and Coffee.  This recipe combines both of them!  This recipe for Coffee Rubbed Ribs with Espresso BBQ Sauce will leave you licking your plate!  They turned out sooooo delicious.

To have a great meal, you have to start with a great product.   In my restaurants, we serve thousands of pounds of ribs per week.  Yes, that’s correct, THOUSANDS OF POUNDS!  Memphis Barbecue Company is pretty unique in that we serve both Babyback Ribs and St. Louis cut Spare Ribs.  Some companies have good spares, some have good baby backs, but Prairie Fresh Meats makes both types of ribs, and they’re both fantastic!  So, I start with a slab of Prairie Fresh St. Louis Cut Ribs!

Coffee Rub

While I give you a full recipe for the rub, if you’re interested in saving time just add 1 TBS per half cup of your favorite BBQ rub, and you can get to seasoning your ribs.  The coffee adds a deep, savory note to the ribs.  I don’t use this everyday, but it’s awfully good as a change of pace.  My go to coffee is a pecan coffee, and that’s what I like to use in the seasoning.  Aromatic, savory, just dang delicious!

Espresso BBQ Sauce

Like the coffee in the BBQ rub, the espresso in this sauce gives a deeper, more rounded flavor to the sauce.  I made this sauce thick, in order to slather it on ribs.  Afterwards, I added a bit more honey and 1/4 cup of water to the sauce to thin it out and increase the “shininess” of the ribs.  That’s definitely an adjustment I’ll make going forward as the added sweetness is a good contrast to the deep espresso flavor.  Don’t have espresso handy? Don’t worry, just substitute in some strong coffee!

It’s ok to get a little sauce on ya, we’re all friends!


While most rib recipes have you wrapping the ribs in foil, I did not in this recipe.  I used some apple wood (not too much, remember not to over smoke!) With the smoker running at 275, they took around 4 hours to cook.  As always, your times may vary depending on your smoker/grill.  The best way to determine doneness is just keep testing with those fingers!  I gently move two bones and test how much “give” they have.  You’ll quickly learn when they’re done.  If you’re a temperature person, usually spare ribs are “eating texture” around 202 degrees, but this is not an exact science.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy the recipe, and I hope you pick up some Prairie Fresh Pork the next time you get a chance!


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Coffee Rubbed Ribs with Espresso BBQ Sauce

  • Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 people 1x


Rich savory flavor from a coffee rub and espresso infused sauce, these ribs are fantastic!



Coffee BBQ Rub

  • 2 slabs Prairie Fresh St. Louis Spare Ribs
  • 2 TBS ground coffee
  • 2 TBS kosher salt
  • 1 TBS smoked paprika
  • 1.5 TBS ancho chili powder
  • 2 TBS Turbinado Sugar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Espresso BBQ Sauce

  • 1 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brewed espresso
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 TBS Coffee BBQ Rub ((see recipe above))
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 TBS yellow mustard
  • 1 TBS worcestershire sauce


  1. In a mixing bowl, add all BBQ rub ingredients and mix well.
  2. Remove membranes from spare ribs, if desired, and trim any excess fat. Season heavily on both sides. Allow to sit out for 30 minutes to let seasoning “sweat” into meat.
  3. Heat smoker to 275 degrees, with your favorite wood for smoke and flavor. I recommend apple, but any will do well.

    Place ribs on grill, bone side down.

  4. While ribs are smoking, prepare BBQ Sauce.
    In a medium pan over medium high heat, melt butter and add onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until turning translucent. Add garlic and cook for additional 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil while whisking. Immediately reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes.
    Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  5. After 3 1/2 hours, start testing ribs for doneness. Test by moving the bones in the ribs to see how much “give” they have. Bones should be exposed from meat by around 1/2 inch, and should give slightly but not pull away from the meat. When done, slather both sides with sauce, pull ribs and allow to rest lightly tented in foil, for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Slice, and enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours