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Everything in your life can be coffee if you really want it to be. It just makes sense. Coffee, and its ability to somehow soothe and vivify at the same time, provides a through-line in so many of our lives. From unconsciousness into morning, it sparks creativity at work and later revitalizes us for the playtime that comes after. So why limit its gifts to those of imbibement? Coffee, whether it’s in your body, on your body or simply near it, can surround you with its comfort in so very many ways.

Beyond merely drinking this magical elixir, there are myriad ways to consume it. In fact, coffee was originally eaten rather than brewed. According to ancient legend, there was a goatherd named Kaldi whose dancing, leaping charges revealed that the source of their jubilation was grazing on the fruits of the wild coffee bushes of Ethiopia. In modern times, we’ve figured out a more bingeable, chocolate-enrobed version of this stimulant, and infusing food with coffee has only become more elegant as chefs learn more about the subtlety and variation of roasts and origins. It’s a natural fit in beer: The sweet deep tones of a sultry roasted coffee can be perfectly suited to the palates of porters or chocolatey stouts. Ground espresso has found its way into spice mixes for delectable meat rubs, combining beautifully with ingredients such as cocoa, Tellicherry pepper and sumac. Coffee and cheese also make surprisingly friendly bedfellows (you’ll find it in aromatic rinds and other mysterious places), and let’s not forget the supreme expression of coffee in any proximity to ice cream.

Coffee can be all around you in the home too. You can put it on your furniture—on purpose, even—as a gentle-tinted wood stain, or apply it with a small brush or swab as a scratch cover. Spent coffee grounds can clean and scrub your pots and pans, and what’s more, they can do the same for your skin: Moistened coffee grounds either used on their own as a skin exfoliant or incorporated into lotions as part of a stimulating coffee massage therapy treatment are credited with stimulating circulation and transmitting their anti-oxidant benefits to the skin. It also has heaps of beneficial uses in the garden from general-purpose composting to intentionally rebalancing your soil’s acidity. Want to change the color of your hydrangeas? Coffee grounds are here to help you go from white to blue.

And if coffee has awakened your artistic side after all that cooking, gardening and spa therapy, anything leftover in the pot makes a lovely watercolor-like paint. It’s a classic aid in creating an antique effect on paper—just remember, would-be historic-document forgers, that your papers will smell revealingly, deliciously like what you’ve been brewing all along.

Special thanks to Rob Magnotta at Edge Reps

Roasted Baby Beets with Coffee-Balsamic Glaze

By marrying two of our favorite ingredients, this appetizer offers roasted beets with a gentle coffee glaze that is both flavorful and intriguing.

3 pounds (1.4 kilograms) mixed baby red and golden
beets, trimmed, scrubbed and halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) brewed light- to medium-roast coffee
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
One 3-inch (7.5-centimeter) strip of orange peel
1/2 cup (100 grams) crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup (30 grams) chopped roasted walnuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200˚C). In a large bowl, toss the beets with the olive oil and butter and season them generously with salt and pepper. Place the beets on a rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Roast until fork tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the coffee, vinegar, honey and orange peel. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the honey. Continue to boil until the glaze is a syrup consistency and is reduced to cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard the orange peel and set the glaze aside to cool.

Arrange the beets on a platter and drizzle with the glaze. Garnish with the goat cheese, walnuts and dill.

Serves 6

Espresso-Chili Rubbed Steak with Herb Salad

This full-flavored rub is made with espresso beans, chili powder, paprika and other ingredients that give the steak a spicy-sweet taste.

For the Espresso-Chili Rub
2 tablespoons finely ground Italian espresso beans
2 tablespoons ancho or chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Spanish paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/2  teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of cinnamon

For the Steak
3 thick-cut steaks, such as rib eye, New York strip or sirloin (3 to 3 1/2 pounds/1.4 to 1.6 kilograms total), cut 1 1/4-inch (3-centimeters) thick, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Salad
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil
7 cups (170 grams) loosely packed mesclun greens
1/4 cup (5 grams) loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup (5 grams) loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup (5 grams) loosely packed fresh dill sprigs
1/4 cup (5 grams) loosely packed fresh mint leaves

For the Espresso-Chili Rub: In a small bowl, mix together the espresso, chili powder, brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper and cinnamon. The rub will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several months.

For the Steak: About 30 minutes before cooking, pat the steaks dry and season them generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of the rub and pat to coat all sides. Set the steaks aside to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Heat 2 large skillets, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to each pan. When the oil begins to smoke, add the steaks and cook until dark brown and crusted and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each one registers 120°F (48°C) for medium-rare, or 125°F (52°C) for medium, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the heat and transfer them to a cutting board to rest before serving, about 5 minutes.

For the Salad: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk while adding the olive oil in a slow, steady stream to emulsify the dressing. In a large bowl, toss together the greens, herbs and just enough of the dressing to lightly coat.

Slice the steaks and fan them on a platter. Serve immediately with the salad.

Serves 6

Chocolate-Covered Espresso Bean Brownies

Sometimes dessert needs a kick: Smashed-up espresso beans and deep dark chocolate will awaken the flavor of these fudge-like brownies.


1 cup (2 sticks/225 grams) unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for greasing
6 ounces (170 grams) bittersweet chocolate
(60 to 72 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened chocolate
(90 to 100 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups (165 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (370 grams) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (85 grams) chocolate-covered espresso beans, coarsely crushed*

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-centimeter) baking pan with butter.

Melt the cubed butter and chocolates in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar and espresso powder first, then add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans and whisk to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it in an even layer.

Bake until the sides begin to pull away slightly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan placed on a wire rack, then cut into 24 squares.

* To coarsely crush the chocolate-covered espresso beans, place them in a sealable plastic bag and smash them with a rolling pin.

Makes 24


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Fifteen

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