Five years ago, one of my best friends and I entered in a chili cook-off for a fundraiser. Since we were working at a coffee roastery at the time and wanted to stand out from the competition, we decided to make a coffee chili. It was the first time we experimented with coffee in food but we were both confident that we could pull it off. We had cooked together many times before and trusted the other’s opinion. In this case, however, I think we were a little overconfident.
The first mistake we made was that we made it too complex. We were trying to get all fancy using concentrated stock, throwing in all kinds of spices and seasoning, and using two different kinds of meats. I don’t actually remember whether or not we even put beans in it…
The second mistake we made was putting coffee grounds directly in the chili. At the time, I believe we both thought the grounds would enhance the coffee flavor and add a nice texture without overwhelming the chili itself, but we accidentally used too much. And I don’t mean like a pinch too much…imagine the lid falling off the salt shaker too much. The coffee “chili” we had already spent hours working on, immediately became meat floating in a screen-less French press. We fished out a good amount, but it was still pretty gritty.
Somehow we managed to bring it back to edible—I will admit it was tasty regardless of the grounds issue—but, needless to say, we did not win the cook-off.
So since we never got around to reinventing our coffee chili, I thought I would give it another go in honor of our defeat all those years ago.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1lb ground beef
- Kidney beans
- 2 cups strong brewed coffee (here I’m using a medium roasted Guatemalan coffee)
- Garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- Chili powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
[Warm up some olive oil to medium-high heat in a large pot or pan]
Chop up the onion and throw it into the pan. Sauté for a few minutes before adding minced garlic.
Break up the ground beef over the pan and cook all the way through.
Drain the kidney beans, add to the mix, and reduce the temperature to low.
Season with salt, pepper, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Slice the tomatoes into large chunks and add them to the pan.
Add the coffee, mix, and cover.
Simmer on low for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes has passed, uncover and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Stir occasionally as the liquid reduces.
[Make sure to save the leftovers for chili dogs!]
Now I’m not going to say we failed with our coffee chili. Just because we didn’t win the cook-off, doesn’t mean it didn’t taste good. It was just too much. Like I said, it was the first time we tried cooking with coffee…and I still believe it was all in all successful.
On a completely different note, my friend makes some of the best Alfredo I’ve ever had in my life and I’m planning on using it as the first guest recipe on the blog. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick his brain here in the near future.
Until next time, take care.