Coffee Cookery


The reputed stimulative properties of coffee have never had an effect on me. I happen to be one of those people that can drink a hot cup of coffee right before bedtime, and then lull off to sleep as soon as my noggin hits the pillow. I don’t get debilitating headaches at work if I miss out on my morning cup of joe. And I can even have a scalding cup of java spilled onto my groin at the drive-through, and then drive off with a wink and a smile for the cashier.

OK, so maybe I exaggerated some of that a teensy bit. But truth be told, I drink coffee because I like the way it tastes, not because it’s a magical cup of pick-me-up. And aside from being a breakfast-time beverage, coffee can make for a wonderful ingredient in a number of dishes. For instance, brewed coffee can be used as a braising liquid for tough cuts of meat, and whole coffee beans themselves can be used to infuse a custard mixture for ice cream.

And since I brought back a giant bag of Barako coffee from my trip to the Philippines, I had more than enough beans to experiment with for these other coffee applications


I briefly touched upon Barako coffee before in this post, but to recap, Barako (Kape Barako) is a type of coffee bean indigenous to the Philippines. The flavor of Barako coffee is very unique in that while it is still very bold and pungent, it’s got a smoother, grassier taste to it than other types of coffees.

Taking advantage of Barako’s unique flavor, and of the leftover coffee I always seem to have in my coffee maker, I braised some short ribs in a pot of barako coffee and red wine. Braised short ribs is one of my absolute favorite dishes to make–I’ve braised short ribs in wine and sherry, in beef broth, and in beer before (not all at the same time), but I’ve never tried coffee as the braising liquid. But when I stumbled upon this recipe from Mark Bittman and the New York Times, I knew I would have a winner on my hands.


The ribs in the finished dish were wonderfully tender and moist. And although not necessarily reeking of coffee, the sauce was deeply flavored as I fudged with Bittman’s recipe a bit and added some bagoong (just a tiny bit), soy sauce, and fresh chilies to my version. Braising short ribs ain’t brain surgery, so the preparation is open to much experimentation and adaptation–feel free to throw in a dash of this and a touch of that to your liking (I’m thinking of throwing in some lemongrass, star anise and a cinnamon stick the next time I make these ribs).

Coffee also makes for a wonderful dessert as well–especially in an ice cream. To make my Barako coffee ice cream, I turned to my ever-reliable copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.


David’s coffee ice-cream needed no improvisation as I followed his recipe to a T (except of course, that I used Barako coffee). The resultant ice cream was smooth, creamy, and ever-so Barako-ey.

Of course, you don’t have to use Barako coffee in any of the following recipes, just use whatever you have on hand. But if you’ve never enjoyed Barako coffee from the Philippines, you should definitely try getting your hands on some.

Barako Coffee-Braised Short Ribs
Adapted from Mark Bittman and the New York Times

4 large beef short ribs
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 thai-bird chili(s), sliced
1 teaspoon bagoong (fermented shrimp paste found in Asian markets)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup dry red wine (I have my favorite, but any red will do)
1 cup strong brewed coffee

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.


For this recipe, don’t use the cross-cut Asian-style short ribs that are cut thinly and usually have 3-4 bones in them. Instead, use the short ribs that have one long bone attached to a thick piece of meat (this is called “English-style” I think). Find the meatiest short ribs you can get your hands on. I’m always pleased with the ones at Whole foods.

Season ribs with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add the ribs to the pot and brown the ribs (get a good crust on them!) on all sides. Remove the ribs from the pot and set aside on a plate.

Add the onions, garlic, chilis, and bagoong to the pot and cook until the onions are transluscent, about 5-8 minutes. (And don’t worry about the bagoong in there, the shrimp paste is there to provide a bit of saltiness and earthiness to the dish, like anchovies would. They won’t make everything taste fishy and they will end up disintegrating into the braise, like anchovies would.)

Deglaze the pot with the soy, wine, and coffee, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Increase heat to high, and reduce the liquid by half. Return the ribs to the pot, cover, and place in the oven for 2-3 hours, turning the ribs over every hour, until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone. Taste the braising liquid and adjust seasoning as desired.


Serve ribs with steamed rice, risotto, polenta, or mashed potatoes (anything really), and then spoon some of the braising liquid over everything on the plate.

Coffee Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz

1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans (Barako if you’ve got it)
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee (Barako if you’ve got it)

Warm the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. When the milk and coffee bean mixture barely starts to simmer, remove from heat, cover, and let sit at room temp for 1 hour.


Rewarm the milk and coffee bean mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks then slowly pour the warm coffee mixture, a little at a time, into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Then scrape the warm egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom of the pot as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon or until the mixture reaches 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.

Pour the remaining 1 cup of cold cream into a large bowl and place a mesh strainer over the bowl. Pour the custard mixture through the strainer and into the bowl of cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much coffee flavor as possible, then discard the beans. Stir in the vanilla and finely ground coffee and cool the custard over an ice bath.

Cover and chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


  • manggy July 24, 2008, 10:02 pm

    Polenta?! Noo, rice, always, every time! Ha ha :) Great job Marvin! I’m glad you like the barako coffee– I’m not a coffee drinker so that’s another thing I don’t take advantage of…
    … ‘cept in desserts! Lovely-looking ice cream!

  • [eatingclub] vancouver || js July 24, 2008, 10:36 pm

    I’ve been eyeing that braised short ribs recipe for some time now, but it’s been so hot out lately. I love barako coffee! Glad to hear it worked out in both these dishes: looks gorgeous, as usual.

  • B July 24, 2008, 11:31 pm

    That ice cream looks really f’in good.

  • oliboy July 25, 2008, 1:12 am

    nice pics!
    awesome blog! :)

  • Patricia July 25, 2008, 7:07 am

    I came upon your site when I was doing a search for Marcapuno. What a gem your site is! I feel like I’ve just found a hidden treasure chest,loaded with gold! Thank you so much for all you have done to educate, enrich and diversify our culinary skills! I am so thankful to you. I can’t wait to try some of your recipes…and share your site with friends!

  • Patricia July 25, 2008, 7:11 am

    oops…somehow when I posted my comment,it was posted to oliboy. I’m not sure how that happened, but I hope oliboy agrees with me!I am thrilled to have found your site. It’s a gem! Have a great day! Patricia

  • dhanggit July 25, 2008, 7:33 am

    i saw one famous french chef now based in singapore who did a similar braising sauce out of coffee…your version looks awesome and like manggy i love mine with rice too LOL, the ice-cream you made is so mouth-watering! gorgeous

  • Fearless Kitchen July 25, 2008, 7:37 am

    This looks fabulous! Personally, I need coffee to live, or at least avoid jail time, and I love to see it used in new and different ways.

  • Jeremy Jensen July 25, 2008, 6:36 pm

    Does coffee the special elixir for your morning, um, “session” as it is for me? Something about a big, ole buffalo dump after a strong cup of java makes you feel so much better.

  • bernadette July 25, 2008, 6:39 pm

    Way to go, Marvin! For me it is quite daring to add barako coffee as braising ingredient but I will give it a try! Thanks for the tip as always :-)!
    I usually add barako coffee to our local chocolate drink here. Gives it a bit of kick and if the drinker is not aware of the coffee element in the chocolate drink, will wonder why he can’t sleep at night after drinking it ;-).

  • Yarn Hungry Hog July 25, 2008, 8:20 pm

    You’re my best pal!
    Short ribs are my weakness!
    When the air starts cooling down (it’s still summer, I know), I’d make sure to come back to your short ribs recipe.
    As far as the ice cream goes, I wish I could just pluck out the photo and eat it!

  • Dione July 26, 2008, 6:37 am

    Hi there!
    Thanks so much for all this blog!!! The more I visit, the more I get inspired- it IS possible to cook amazing Pinoy foods without (regretfully!) having paid attention to my mom all these years! Thanks for the research and details you put into this- from your Barako entry, I found your entry about the Villamins and their Eden Canyon Vineyards. Had never thought to have cabernet sauvignon with caldereta, or IN the caldereta- but it makes perfect sense! I feel like I just discovered something new, but it has been here all along! Will have to stock up and bring back a bunch of their wine to NYC next time I’m home in the Bay Area!
    Your blog really touches on how food is so central to the many facets of Filipino American life. Now I have to get to your recipes at some point cuz these pics make me really hungry! I’m spreading the word to my family and friends! Thanks again for this- it’s a treasure!

  • Julie July 26, 2008, 10:35 am

    Oh man … oh man oh man oh man! I recently braised short ribs for the first time, using Guinness, and … oh MAN! Now, every time I see them, my mouth waters. Those look so good!
    Drinking coffee used to have little effect on me, too, until I hit my 30s. =\ Now, my heart races and my brain throbs. Still, I love a cuppa here and there!

  • Mila July 27, 2008, 3:41 am

    Coffee and bagoong in a recipe! Would you consider doing a version of mole with a dash of bagoong in it?
    I was just reading DL’s recent post on vietnamese coffee popsicles, and even if it’s rainy and windy today, I might just pull out my rusty canister of barako coffee and make some coffee ice lollies…

  • Oggi July 28, 2008, 7:30 am

    These ribs and risotto sound really appealing. Must try soon.:)
    BTW, Memories of Philippine Kitchens cookbook has a fish smoked with coffee beans recipe. I haven’t tried it yet…sounds interesting.

  • Erin July 28, 2008, 10:29 am

    I love cooking with coffee and it works so well with pork giving it such a deep rich flavor.

  • Pat July 28, 2008, 2:57 pm

    I once had cowboy coffee-rubbed ribeye at a restaurant and the chef told me that in the wild wild west they would smother coffee grounds over meat not only to tenderize but also as a way to cover up “off” smells and tastes :).

  • Cynthia July 28, 2008, 3:14 pm

    Hard to believe, I know but I’ve never had short ribs. Not readily available here :(

  • elmomonster July 29, 2008, 8:46 am

    To quote Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction: “This is some serious gourmet shit!”

  • manju July 29, 2008, 11:53 am

    I’ve never heard of this coffee — Will ask bro to bring some back from his Manila trip. Those short ribs are really to die for! I can imagine the coffee added some depth to an already deeply flavored dish.

  • Hector July 30, 2008, 7:55 pm

    Hey there…I’m a long time reader, but first time commenter…I must say, I’m a regular reader (although I must say, there are times when I don’t get to visit your blog as regularly, like recently, I missed almost your entire trip to the Philippines…which I read voraciously, I might add because I’m Ilocano myself…Pasuquin in Ilocos Norte)…and this article is so up my alley, you have no idea. Currently, I work for that Southern California purveyor of caffeine known as Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, so yes, I do have to agree that a lot of people don’t use coffee to its full extent as an ingredient in main courses instead of just as a beverage. I’ve done the whole marinade thing with beef (shortribs are a personal favorite of mine also, haha), and it’s hard to find another meat that will stand up to the pungent aroma and flavor that especially treasured bean, but I’ve found that lamb also does equally as well. I’ve made my fair share of desserts with coffee as an ingredient in any number of applications (sauces, main flavoring, the ever ubiquitous tiramisu, etc.) and vanilla or macapuno ice cream with a reduced coffee syrup as a sauce is a simple yet elegant aftermeal indulgence. If you have a chance, and you do feel you always have a lot of coffee left in your auto-drip pot, try out a french press for your coffee. It makes coffee basically by the cup, you can control each and every single aspect of the brew process (temperature, amount of grounds, course-/fine-ness of grounds, amount of time to leave the grounds brewing, etc.) so that you can custom make your coffee to exactly what your taste wants. It’s arguably the best way to brew a cup of coffee, perfect for things that need small batches like sauces and marinades, and best paired with a small personal burr grinder…but yeah, I digress…I’m not trying to sound like a coffee expert, far from it, but I am, as you can tell, enthusiastic about it…
    But yes, just wanted to convey my regards…and once I get a new digicam, I’ll be starting my own foodblog…I promise to keep you informed…cheers

  • Burnt Lumpia August 1, 2008, 3:29 pm

    I prefer rice too, manggy, but I’m just providing some other options 😛
    When the weather cools down, you should definitely give the ribs a try, js.
    Thanks B!
    Thanks Oliboy! Thanks for visiting.
    Hello Patricia! Thanks for the kind words and I hope you come back often.
    Hi dhanggit. Yes, coffee seems to be a familiar braising liquid in many cultures I guess.
    Thanks Fearless Kitchen. I’d hate to see you without first having your cofffee;)
    Well hello, Jeremy. Buffalo dumps are indeed very satisfying after a cup of coffee.
    Please do give it a try, bernadette. And your barako mocha drink sounds delicious.
    Hello Yarn Hungry Dog. Until the weather cools down, you should at least give the ice cream a try;)
    Thank you very much Dione! I’m glad that you are enjoying my blog.
    Oh man, Julie! Guinness-braised ribs makes my mouth water. We should trade;)
    Ah, Mole! Nice idea, Mila. I’m gonna have to look into that one!
    I looked in my Memories cookbook after reading your comment, oggi. You’re right, it does look interesting and I’m gonna have to give it a try sometime.
    Hi Erin! You’re right about coffee and pork–I love ham and red-eye gravy.
    Hey there, Pat! I wonder if the coffee in my dish covered up the “off” smell of the bagoong;)
    No short ribs in the Carribean? That is hard to believe, Cynthia.
    Nice Elmo! Nice! But I don’t need you to tell me how good my coffee is;P
    I had never heard of barako either until very recently, manju. I found my coffee in Baguio, but I’ve been told that SM carries barako, so I’m sure your bro can find some in Manila.
    Wow, thanks for the passionate comments, Hector! I’m pretty sure the Coffee Bean doesn’t sell it, but have you ever had barako coffee before? Wow, and a coffee syrup on macapuno ice cream sounds awesome! I’m very glad you’ve de-lurked to comment and I hope you comment more often.

  • sweetbird August 2, 2008, 11:06 pm

    These recipes will most def please the husband. He’s a coffee freak. So much of a coffee freak that quite the pretty penny was spent on a pound of Kopi Luwac at Christmas last year.
    I’m going to try both of these here in the near future. Thanks!

  • Burnt Lumpia August 5, 2008, 10:33 am

    Wow, sweetbird, your husband does indeed sound like a coffee freak if you bought him that civet coffee. I’ve always wanted to try that stuff. Thanks for stopping by my blog!


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