Coffee Cocoa Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

After seeing a bunch of blog posts and cooking show segments on making spice rubs with coffee grounds, I decided that there must be something to this and I needed to try it out.

My spice rub combined freshly ground coffee, unsweetened cocoa, a bit of brown sugar to counteract the bitterness of those first two ingredients, then plenty of cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, and black pepper for heat and zip. The spice rub got slathered all over a couple of pieces of pork tenderloin before returning to my refrigerator to marinate for a couple of hours.

Once the flavors had time to soak in, I browned the tenderloins in a cast iron skillet before letting them cook through in a hot oven. To go with the pork and to add some bright colors, I made some yellow rice from a packet, just jazzed up with plenty of fresh cilantro and mint. And on the side for some more herbaceous flavor?

A chimichurri sauce, made with olive oil, jalapeno, cilantro, parsley, orange zest, and red pepper flakes. The pork was juicy and spicy, with a hint of roasted, slightly bitter flavor from the coffee but so bright with all the fresh herbs in the rice and in the sauce. With Memorial Day coming up around the corner, try grilling these tenderloins and having an outdoor meal inspired by Argentina for a fun and exciting twist.

Coffee Cocoa Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

  • 2 pieces of pork tenderloin, 1 pound each
  • 3 tablespoons freshly ground, dark roast coffee
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 package yellow rice, cooked according to directions
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh mint and cilantro


  • 1/2 cup each, firmly packed parsley and cilantro leaves
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium jalapeno, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Combine the ground coffee, cocoa, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, oregano, 1/2 tablespoon black pepper and 1 tablespoon kosher salt on a plate. Roll each tenderloin in the spice rub until completely coated. Place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Add oil to a large cast iron or oven proof skillet and heat over medium high heat. When oil ripples, add the pork tenderloin and brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place in oven and cook until internal temperature is 160 degrees F, about 20-27 minutes. Remove from oven and place pork on carving board to rest for 10 minutes.

While pork cooks, prepare rice according to package directions and fold in most of the cilantro and mint, reserving some for garnish. Also make the chimichurri sauce by adding all the ingredients up to the 1/2 cup of olive oil in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process, streaming in olive oil through feed tube until you have a sauce-like consistency, runnier than a pesto but still slightly thick. Slice pork and serve on top of bed of rice garnished with extra mint and cilantro. Place chimichurri on the side for diners to help themselves.


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