Smoked Coffee Rub Tri Tip

October 12, 2020

This Smoked Coffee Rub Tri Tip is the ultimate flavor experience. My homemade coffee rub perfectly complements the rich, buttery beef of a smoked tri tip roast. The combo of coffee and beef make for a unique and must-try tri tip you won’t soon forget.

Coffee rub tri tip on a wooden cutting board. Text overlay: "Smoked Coffee Rub Tri Tip Roast."

Smoked Tri Tip Seasoned with Coffee Rub

Coffee Rub Tri Tip is beefy goodness in all of its glory right here, people. If you didn’t already know, I love beef. I have a few cuts of beef that I favor above the others, but tri tip is definitely in my top 5. It’s simply a no-brainers for me. Not only is it beautifully marbled and a breeze to smoke, but it’s simply packed with flavor. It also gets major bonus points for being pretty easy to grill without overcooking.

I think tri tip a great starter cut for beginning grillers. And this particular coffee rub tri tip is a great starter recipe for beginning pitmasters. The tri tip is slow smoked (I used my pellet grill) over indirect heat for 3 hours before being seared over screaming hot coals. It’s the best of both worlds, low and slow BBQ and hot and fast grilling.

tri tip roast seasoned with coffee rub next to a glass bowl of coffee rub.

Coffee Rub for Tri Tip Roast

The best part about this recipe is that you get a great rub recipe, a good long smoke on some beef, and happy tummies at dinner. If you haven’t jumped into making your own rubs, now is the best time to start. I have been making rubs from scratch for a while now, and this is our newest favorite. 

This isn’t the first ever coffee rub recipe I’ve posted (coffee and beef are an amazing combo), but I’ve found that coffee grounds can get bitter when cooked over high temperatures. I knew I wanted to sear this tri tip for a beautiful dark bark, but I still wanted that coffee flavor. That’s where the not secret anymore ingredient comes into play. Instant coffee crystals! You get that amazing, rich coffee flavor without any bitterness from burned coffee grounds. Such an amazing pairing with the chili pepper, cayenne, and coriander in the rub. This rub is savory, earthy, and has a deep richness that melts into the tri tip.

coffee rub tri tip on the grill grates of a smoker.

Ingredients for Tri Tip Coffee Rub

The secret to this tri tip is in the coffee rub. Don’t let the combo of coffee and beef scare you! They actually pair incredibly well together. Here’s what you’ll need to assemble to make the coffee rub:

Begin with 1 teaspoon of the following:

  • Coarse sea salt
  • Instant coffee crystals
  • Garlic powder
  • Smoked paprika

Next, add 1/2 teaspoon of these seasonings:

  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Whole coriander (crushed)
  • Onion powder

Finish up with 1/4 teaspoon of the following for some much needed heat:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder

smoked coffee rub tri tip on the grill grates of a smoker.

How to Smoke Coffee Rub Tri Tip

When making this coffee rub tri tip, you only need to focus on 4 steps. It’s a relatively easy recipe that just takes a little bit of time to allow the tri tip a nice, low and slow smoke.

  1. Coffee rub. Combine all ingredients for the coffee rub in a bowl. After trimming any excess fat off the tri tip, season the meat. Season the tri tip on all sides with the coffee rub, and press the rub into the meat. (Contrary to the name, you don’t actually need to “rub” the seasoning into the meat as this will make it flake off).
  2. Smoke. With your smoker preheated to the lowest setting (under 200 degrees F, if possible), place the tri tip directly on the grill grates and close the lid. This first smoke will likely take around 3 hours for the meat to come up to temperature, but remember that every cut of meat is different. Some take a lot longer, and some are ready crazy fast. Invest in a good instant read meat thermometer, and go by temperature and not by time. Cook the meat until it is within 10 degrees of your final desired doneness temp (110 degrees F for rare, 120 degrees F for medium rare, 130 for medium, 140 for medium well, or 150 for well done).
  3. Sear. Remove the tri tip from the grill and crank up the heat on your smoker to the highest setting. Place a 12″ cast iron skillet on the grill grates and allow the skillet to preheat. Once the skillet is hot, place the tri tip in the skillet and sear each side for 4-6 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches your final temperature (120 degrees F for rare, 130 degrees F for medium rare, 140 for medium, 150 for medium well, or 160 for well done). 
  4. Rest and Serve. Remove the meat from the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing (against the grain!) and serving.

Sliced coffee rub tri tip on a wooden cutting board.

More Tri Tip Recipes

Ooooh, my friend, do I have some treats for you! These recipes for tri tip are popular ones on the site, and you’re sure to love them.

Coffee Rub Tri Tip Recipe

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Sliced coffee rub tri tip on a striped wooden cutting board.

Smoked Coffee Rub Tri Tip

This Smoked Coffee Rub Tri Tip is the ultimate flavor experience. My homemade coffee rub perfectly complements the rich, buttery beef of a smoked tri tip roast. 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook Time : 3 hrs
Resting Time : 10 mins
Total Time : 3 hrs 25 mins
Servings : 3 people
Calories : 722kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 1 2-3 pound tri tip roast

Tri Tip Coffee Rub

  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon whole coriander (crushed)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder

Instructions

  • Preheat the smoker. Start your smoker on the lowest heat setting (mine runs about 175-180 on Smoke).
  • Make the coffee rub. Combine all of the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Trim and season the tri tip. Trim any excess fat off of the tri tip and liberally season with the dry rub.
  • Smoke the tri tip. Place the seasoned tri tip directly on the grill grates. Close the lid and smoke for 3 hours or until the internal temperature of the tri tip is within 10 degrees of your final target temperature (110 degrees F for rare, 120 degrees F for medium rare, 130 degrees F for medium, 140 degrees F for medium well, or 150 degrees F for well done).
  • Preheat a cast iron skillet. Take the tri tip off the grill and place a cast iron skillet on the grill grates. Turn the temperature up to the highest heat setting (at least 400 degrees) and allow the grill pan to preheat.
  • Sear the smoked tri tip. Place the smoked tri tip in the grill pan and sear on each side for 4-6 minutes. Use an internal thermometer to monitor the temperature of your tri tip. Pull the tri tip off the grill at 120 degrees F for rare, 130 degrees F for medium rare, 140 degrees F for medium, 150 degrees F for medium well, or 160 degrees F for well done.
  • Rest and serve. Allow the tri tip to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing against the grain. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 722kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 94g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 295mg | Sodium: 245mg | Potassium: 1495mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 447IU | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 7mg
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**This post was originally published in January 2016. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

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21 thoughts on “Smoked Coffee Rub Tri Tip

  1. thanks very much for the recipes, just wondering what type of coffee , does it matter what type of instant coffee grounds (crystals) are used . and thankyou again .

    1. Hey Dan- you can use whatever brand of instant coffee you like. I’ve used the Folgers brand for this recipe, but I’m sure any difference in brand would have little effect on the final flavor.

  2. Have you ever tried on Brisket? Doing a brisket on my pellet grill tomorrow and considered running brisket tonight and leaving in refrigerator overnight. Thoughts?

    1. If you want to do it in the oven, I would try using the same temperature recommendations in the recipe. Then sear in a hot skillet on the stovetop for a nice crust on the outside.

  3. Would this rub be appropriate to put on the night before and let set in fridge? Didn’t know if the coffe component or other ingredients would not be good for overnight. I typically do this with any rub before smoking or grilling

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