Recipe for Baby Back Ribs with Coffee Spice Rub | Almanac.com

Baby Back Ribs with Coffee Spice Rub

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6 servings
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Everyone needs a great rib recipe come BBQ season. These baby back ribs are rubbed in an amazingly flavorful coffee spice rub (with a hint of cocoa!) before grilling. If you’re a sauce fan, we’ve also included an option for a “mop” sauce. 

If possible, buy ribs from heritage breeds, preferably from local farms that raise their animals humanely. Where your meat comes from is as important as how you cook it. Buy racks that have 8 or more ribs.

This recipe is adapted from Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible.​

4 to 6 pounds baby back ribs (or 6 to 8 pounds spare ribs)
1/2 cup Coffee Spice Rub
2 cups wood chips (preferably hickory), soaked in cold water 1 hour, then drained, divided if using charcoal
Canola oil for grill
Optional: Coffee Mop Sauce
  1. Place the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet or in a hotel pan to contain any mess.
  2. Remove the thin, papery skin from the back of each rack of ribs by pulling it off in a sheet with your fingers, using the corner of a kitchen towel to gain a secure grip, or with pliers.
  3. If desired, slather the ribs on both sides with your favorite mustard (many people use common yellow mustard; I prefer Dijon). Then, apply the Coffee Spice Rub.
  4. Rub two-thirds of the Coffee Spice Rub over the ribs on both sides, then transfer the ribs to a roasting pan. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
  5. Ready to grill?  Set up the grill for indirect grilling, placing a large drip pan in the center.
    1. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium.
    2. If using a gas grill, place the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat to high. When smoke appears, reduce heat to medium.
  6. When ready to cook, if using charcoal, toss half the wood chips on the coals. Oil the grill grate. Arrange the ribs on the hot grate over the drip pan. Cover the grill and smoke-cook ribs for 1 hour.
  7. Good ribs don’t need sauce, but this Coffee Mop Sauce gives that extra zing of flavor. While grilling, you brush the sauce onto the ribs with a mop or basting brush every 30 minutes. Watch carefully so the sugars in the sauce don’t scorch. Also, apply the sauce during the last few minutes of cooking, right before you remove the ribs. You can also serve extra sauce at the table.
  8. If using a charcoal grill, toss the remaining half of the wood chips on the fire. Continue cooking the ribs until tender and almost done, 1/2 to 1 hour longer for baby back ribs, somewhat longer for spareribs. If using charcoal, after 1 hour add 10 to 12 fresh coals per side to the grill. The ribs are done when the meat is very tender and it has shrunk back from the ends of the bones.
  9. Fifteen minutes before the end, season the ribs with the remaining Coffee Spice Rub, sprinkling it on.

Coffee Spice Rub

3 tablespoons ground coffee
1 tablespoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 tablespoon dark-brown sugar
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and break up any lumps with your fingers or a whisk.

  • If you are camping, combine ingredientsin a jar, twist the lid on airtight, and shake to mix.

Store in a tightly covered container away from heat or light.  Store for up to 6 months. Use on lamb, pork, or beef.

Store away from heat and light up to 6 months.

Total time to make rub is about 10 minutes. Yield is 1/2 cup.

You can always double recipe if you’d like more rub.

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The Almanac Chefs

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