Trader Joe’s BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Coffee and Garlic

Trader Joe's BBQ Rub and Seasoning With Coffee and Garlic

I love your titles TJ, but when you have to start rotating words like puzzle pieces to fit them on your packaging, things have gotten out of hand.

I’m sorry, what? Can you repeat that please? Did you say, Trader Joe’s BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Cofffee and Garlic? Does that make any sense at all? This one is truly mind boggling. I knew Trader Joe’s didn’t give a flying fig about convention, I knew that the second I saw them stocking Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil on their shelves, I knew that when I picked up their Avagadro’s Number themed guacamole, but even I didn’t dream they were this dangerously unhinged.

I’d like to put myself in the mindset of the Trader Joe’s food scientist who dreamed up this insane blend of seasonings, but I’m afraid to do so would be to permanently wrench my psyche from it’s bearings. Coffee grounds and garlic – blended together, for the sake of rubbing on your meat. It’s got to be a stunt, right? Maybe there isn’t that much coffee in it, or maybe it’s, like, a type of coffee that isn’t really coffee. Let’s just check out the ingredient label.

Ingredient #1: Coffee. Period.

Okay, we’ll, there’s a bunch of other stuff in here too. Look – brown sugar, salt, garlic, um… paprika… and, uh, clemengold rind,? Which is apparently the skin of the Nandorcott mandarin orange? Okay, that’s a new one. At any rate, it must, like, all blend together in a way that sort of hides the strong coffee taste amid many flavors. Let’s just open it up and take a whiff. Wow – nope, that’s coffee. That is straight up coffee. I can’t imagine this is going to be any good.

And this, folks, is where it gets even crazier. After all that, when you really get down to it, this seasoning is spicy, flavorful, intriguing, nuanced, and totally worth your $1.99.

Crazy though it may sound to me, coffee rubs are not a wholesale invention of Trader Joe’s. Many in the hardcore slow-cooked meat world have experimented with the intriguing addition of robust coffee grounds to otherwise ordinary rubs. Despite the intense coffee smell of the rub, the taste is actually much more diverse and interesting. Coffee, being coffee, has a smell that tends to overshadow everything around it. On the tongue, however, that bold, bitter coffee taste is joined by a medley of other equally strong flavors that stand out on their own. The coffee gives way, in turn, to sparks of sweetness, sudden notes of saltiness, and the simmering, low key spiciness of the garlic and paprika.

These flavors do not blend, but tussle for position on your taste buds, and that’s what makes this rub work. It’s not a single flavor, or polite union of similar flavors, it’s a raucous dust up of competing tastes. It’s a tour of the whole tongue, with fun flavors for every taste bud. I’d be interested to see how this stuff would taste without all the coffee in it, to be honest, but having the coffee is what makes it really stand out. While other rubs commonly play up to saltiness, Trader Joe’s Coffee and Garlic Rub plays up the boldness, and it’s this strong base note that gives the riot of other flavors the grounds to go wild.

Trader Joe’s also suggests that you can use this rub as a seasoning on veggies, fish, etc. I’m not sure I’d recommend that myself. While it isn’t bad, per se, the rub is so intense that it can only really be used in tiny amounts, and even then you probably want to mix in another, more traditional seasoning to round out the taste.

One final caveat – make sure you leave yourself plenty of time for the flavors of the rub to permeate your ribs, steaks etc. Trader Joe’s recommends at least an hour – but the longer you wait the richer the flavor in the end. Give this rub as much time as possible on your meat, and apply it generously, for the full effect. Just don’t wait until too late at night to eat. This is real coffee in the rub and, as I discovered, a late dinner might leave up for hours.



The Breakdown:

Would I Recommend It: Absolutely. This will shake up your life a little.

Would I Buy It Again: I think I’ll stock up on a little more.

Final Synopsis: A bold, mix of bitter, salty and sweet flavors that you should try at least once.




9 Comments on “Trader Joe’s BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Coffee and Garlic”

  1. Kiyo says:

    Wow, that was beautifully written. Was the “grounds to go wild” pun intended?

  2. Carolina says:

    OMG, I didn’t see this at Trader Joe’s today. But I will look for it next time! One of my favorite ways to season prime rib is simply using coffee, salt, pepper, and crushed garlic!

    This looks like a total winner.

  3. Deane Alban says:

    I tried this on a roast and it was fantastic. I don’t think I used that much because there was no overwhelming flavor on it’s own but it greatly enhance the flavor of the meat. It made it taste meatier, if that makes sense. I usually make my own rubs but for the price that doesn’t make any sense. i don’t think I’d try it on veggies because there is a texture to this – the occasional bit of coffee grind.

  4. Andy B. says:

    Well said and described. Personally, I Just LOVE this Rub, a dub dub – made in S. Africa – hope this is done with Fair Trade principals. And hope it’s a keeper, ala TJ’s.

  5. Economist says:

    Great on TriTip before roasting. Overnight is best. Use generously.

  6. Used this on a smoked brisket last weekend. All I can say it it was awesome. I did however use honey on the brisket so the rub would stick. I also added some Season Salt and gave it a little more salty taste. After I seasoned the brisket with the rub I let the brisket sit in the frig overnight and then cooked it in an electric smoker using a mixture of cherry and hickory chips. 9 hours at 250 degrees. It came out perfect. The burnt ends and the bark on the brisket was delicious. It was also a beautiful piece of meat. I’m making another trip from OKC to Tulsa to stock up on this rub.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This does not sound expensive which is good. I think you could duplicate it with of mix of your favorite rub, some instant coffee powder like Nescafe Classico and fresh mandarine orange rind or dried orange rind.

  8. SOooooooo Gooooodddddd! I sprinkle it on my eggs. One warning! If you love it, you better buy a crate of it because when its gone you will be super sad…….Its Seasonal.

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