Sweet Java Beef Jerky

9 reviews

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Sweet Java Beef Jerky is the newest sensation in homemade jerky. Sweet, savory, and rich with the tiniest kick, this is the jerky you can’t stop snacking on!

Sweet java beef jerky wrapped in Hey Grill Hey butcher paper in a glass mason jark with a bottle of Coca-Cola in the background.

Java Beef Jerky

If you have read my post for Dr. Pepper Jalapeno Beef Jerky, much of this post will be a repeat for you. If this is your first time to my site or trying out homemade jerky on your own, read on!

This post is so full of jerky knowledge, it should probably be a book. We are going to be talking cuts of meat, slicing tips, marinating basics, and dehydrating vs. smoking. I’m going to give you all of the info you need to master making perfect jerky from home.

Years ago I worked in recipe development for Traeger Grills and published a recipe for Coffee Break Jerky. That base recipe still serves as inspiration for this one, but I’ve been working on it and tweaking it for about the last 5 years and I think it’s pretty much perfect now! I hope you enjoy it!

Best Cuts of Meat for Beef Jerky

Let’s start with the best cuts of beef for jerky-making. Begin with a nice roast with very little fat marbling. For this batch, I used a London Broil. Another amazing choice is an eye of round roast. Other options that work well include a top round, sirloin roast, or rump roast. These last three do have a bit more fat/gristle, but they are often a budget-friendly option.

If you’re into making ground meat jerky, check out my recipe for Ground Beef Jerky. This requires a jerky guns and a little extra effort, but the result is absolutely delicious!

Slices of java beef jerky on the grill grates of a smoker.

How to Slice Meat for Jerky

Now that you’ve got your cut of meat selected, let’s talk about getting that perfect jerky thin slice!

I own a meat slicer, and have sliced my own meat for jerky before. I understand this is not an option for many. If you plan on slicing your own meat, I recommend putting your roast in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour before slicing. The chilled roast will be more firm and you will get a much better result with more even slices.

If you aren’t slicing at home, find a good butcher and buy your roast from them. They will be more than happy to do the slicing for you! Now, here is a point of debate for jerky makers. Slicing with or against the grain? I slice my jerky against the grain. In my opinion, this makes the jerky easier to chew and eat.

Some folks prefer slicing with the grain because once it is dry you get those nice long strands of jerky that you can tear off and work through. I’ve also heard that slicing with the grain can cause your jerky to fall apart, but I haven’t experienced that personally. It might be best to try out both and determine what you like best.

Sweet Java Jerky Marinade

Now while you can purchase marinades pre-made, these marinades lack that little extra somethin’ somethin’ you get with a homemade marinade. Specifically, the sweet, savory, heat flavors from this Sweet Java Beef Jerky marinade are one of a kind. It’s like a meat party in your mouth! The real basis for any great marinade, in my opinion, is a good combo of flavors. Savory, sweet, spice. Perfection!

Here’s what you’ll need for this marinade (scroll below to the recipe card for full amounts):

  • Brewed coffee
  • Cola
  • Soy sauce
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Morton TenderQuick
  • Molasses
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper

This marinade calls for Morton TenderQuick. This is an instant curing powder with small amounts of salt and sugar mixed in, usually available in grocery stores or online. The correct ratio is 1 Tablespoon per 1 pound of meat. The recipe, as written, calls for 2 Tablespoons for 2 pounds of meat.

If you like to use other curing salts in your jerky you can use 1 level teaspoon of Prague Powder #1 or instacure #1 in the marinade recipe. This proportion cures up to 5 pounds of meat. If you increase the recipe beyond 5 pounds, you will need an additional teaspoon of the cure.

The jerky with Morton TenderQuick will last up to two weeks on your counter. If you want to skip adding the cure entirely, add one level Tablespoon of Kosher salt in place of the 2 Tablespoons of curing salt. This jerky will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Sweet java beef jerky in a pile on a dark table.

How to Make Sweet Java Beef Jerky

Finally, let’s talk cooking method. You can make beef jerky in a smoker, dehydrator, or oven.

  • Smoker. I have several smokers at my disposal and my favorite for jerky is my pellet grill. Feel free to make your jerky on whatever smoker you have, just ensure it can maintain temperatures around 160-180 degrees F. This allows the jerky to slowly cook through while smoking.
  • Dehydrator. If you are using a dehydrator, please read the instructions accompanying your machine. Every dehydrator works differently and the timeline will be unique to your machine.
  • Oven. If you’re without a smoker or dehydrator, you can still dehydrate your jerky in your oven. Lay out the jerky on a cooling rack before cooking. Follow the same time and temperature listed in the recipe, but leave the door of your oven slightly cracked so the moisture can escape and your jerky can dry properly.

The real secret, whether smoker or oven. is to prep your jerky before drying. After you marinate your meat, remove it from the marinade, and pat off the excess moisture. This step is crucial for even cooking. I like to layer my jerky strips between paper towels and thoroughly pat dry. If you want a little extra spice, now is a great time to dust with some additional black pepper.

Finally, be sure to use a thermometer to gauge the doneness of your meat. You don’t want any pieces to be removed from the oven, smoker, or dehydrator if they are under 165 degrees F. I use a good instant read thermometer to monitor my temperatures.

Sweet java beef jerky wrapped in Hey Grill Hey butcher paper surrounded by coffee beans.

More Beef Jerky Recipes

I’m all for making ALL THE JERKY. And I can’t pass up trying all the different flavors and varieties. If you’re like me, you’ll love these other tasty jerky recipes from Hey Grill Hey:

Sweet Java Beef Jerky Recipe

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Sweet Java Beef Jerky

4.89 from 9 votes
Sweet Java Beef Jerky is the newest sensation in homemade jerky. Sweet, savory, and rich with the tiniest kick, this is the jerky you can't stop snacking on!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Marinade Time8 hours
Total Time2 hours 10 minutes
Servings8 people


  • 2 pounds London Broil beef roast sliced thin against the grain
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

Sweet Java Jerky Marinade

  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 cup cola
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Morton TenderQuick
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper


  • Make the marinade. Add all ingredients for the marinade into a non-reactive bowl (no metal) and whisk to combine.
  • Marinate the meat. Immerse the sliced beef roast into the marinade and stir to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat the smoker. Preheat your smoker (or oven) to 170 degrees F.
  • Prep the jerky. Remove the meat from the marinade and dry each strip thoroughly by laying on paper towels. Sprinkle with black pepper.
  • Smoked the jerky. Transfer the strips to the grill grate, jerky rack, or cooling rack, and smoke/cook for 2-3 hours (depending on the thickness of your slices, some thicker pieces can take 4-5 hours). Check often after the first hour to be sure your jerky is drying evenly. You are looking for jerky that is firm and still slightly pliable, but not soft. If you bend your jerky and it breaks, you've cooked it a little too long.
  • Steam, store, and enjoy. Place the finished jerky in a gallon zip top bag while it is still warm. Don't seal closed all the way. The jerky will steam in the bag slightly and this step will make the jerky moist. The jerky will last 3-4 days on the counter or 2 weeks in the fridge.


Calories: 29kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 105mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 211IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Sweet Java Beef JerkySweet Java Beef Jerky



Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

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Recipe Rating

Reader Reviews

33 Reviews

  1. Mr Whipple says:

    Made this exactly as the recipe goes. Prague #1 instead of tenderquick …On the pellet smoker now for about an hour and a half. Snuck a small piece while checking on it. Very interesting flavor. Coffee and molasses up front, then the salty hit from the soy and worcestershire and then the sweet heat. Pleasantly surprised at the subtle smoke.

    1. Mr Whipple says:

      3 days later, awesome. Flavors seem to have really blended. I probably went a little heavy on the cayenne because that’s what chile heads do, so next time I’ll try to keep it at 2 tsp. I like the extra heat at the end, but i also like balance. Either way, i’ll be making this for a long time to come.

  2. Randy N says:

    Forgive me if this is a stupid question but the roast you use is it sliced leftovers or fresh roast( uncooked)?

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      No question is a stupid question! I use fresh, raw roasts!

      1. Mike says:

        Could beef eye round be used for jerky?

        1. Hey Grill Hey says:


  3. Drew Underwood says:

    I made this last year for our beach trip……made several pounds of it! The kids devoured all of it before we got there! VERY GOOD!!

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      That’s awesome! It never stays for very long!

  4. Mike says:

    Just wondering what wood you smoke with? Do you use different woods for sweeter jerkey? Going to try this recipe next weekend. Can’t wait.

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      I like to use hickory and apple. Different woods would definitely make a different flavor. Peach would could make it sweeter.

  5. Mike lewis says:

    Can you use backstrap with this?

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      I have had people try it with blackstrap and it has come out good.

  6. Jack Oliver says:

    Thanks for sharing this delicious sweet java beef jerky recipe with us. I’ll definitely try this recipe in our home.

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      Thanks Jack!! Hope you love it!

  7. Jeff Witty says:

    You could try spraying the blade with cooking spray and see if that helps.

  8. Frank May says:

    Hi, could I use the #1 Prague Powder in place of the Morton Tender Quick?
    Thank you

    1. Hey Grill says:

      Yes! The ratios are different, I use 1 lever teaspoon in this recipe and it will cure up to 5 pounds of meat.

  9. Steve Conway says:

    I think I’ll have Publix slice it for me. How thick should I tell them to slice it?

    1. Hey Grill says:

      I usually tell them to slice it to a 2, against the grain.

  10. Zach says:

    The meat slicer I use is one of the consumer grade ones you can pick up on Amazon for <$100. It's great for the little use it gets, but I've found that when slicing a semi-frozen roast, the roast tends to stick to the blade on each slice. Do you ever have a problem with the meat sticking to the blade (essentially pulling it off of the sliding tray) or do you have any recommendations for keeping it from sticking?

    1. Hey Grill says:

      I totally have the same problem and it’s the worst. I’ve probably got the same slicer as you. I kind of just gave up on it and have my butcher slice it for me. He said the likely problem was the speed of the blade, not enough engine power in the consumer grade slicers to get a super clean slice.