Coffee Is The Secret Ingredient That Adds A Strong Kick To Bacon

There's nothing quite like the smell of coffee brewing and bacon frying first thing in the morning to really wake you up. Whether you're making breakfast at home or enjoying this classic combo at a diner, these two foods reliably pair perfectly together — so perfectly, in fact, that you might want to combine them even more closely with coffee-infused bacon.

To make this magic happen in your home kitchen, the first thing to do is brew yourself a cup of strong black coffee, then make an extra one — this will serve as the core ingredient for a marinade that beautifully melds the bitter notes of coffee beans with the savory flavor of salted pork. 

Once you set the uncooked bacon to soak in the coffee, you can take this opportunity to create layers of complexity by sprinkling in a variety of seasonings based on your personal preferences or what's in your pantry. For the best outcome, try a mixture of sweet and spicy elements, like brown sugar and cinnamon, or maple syrup and red pepper flakes. Cocoa powder also adds a pleasant earthiness that echoes the essence of the coffee.  

Be sure to allow the marinade to soak for at least an hour before cooking the strips in the oven or on the stovetop. The result is bacon with a depth of flavor like nothing you've ever tasted — and an entirely new experience of enjoying coffee.

Tips and tricks for your coffee-infused bacon

There are lots of tiny tweaks you can make to this simple recipe that will have a big impact on the taste and texture of the meat. Since coffee is the main ingredient in the marinade, try experimenting with different roasts to bring out specific flavors in the bacon. For example, if you like that super umami smokiness, you might want to use French roast coffee, which gets its smoky flavor during the roasting process. Alternatively, you can mellow this quality out by opting for a lighter roast — though you'll still want to stick with a medium to dark blend to emphasize the bold, earthy essence of coffee.

The intensity of the coffee flavor depends on how long you marinate the meat as well. Allow at least 15 minutes for the liquids and seasonings to seep into the bacon. Soaking overnight can amplify the effect, but you also want to be careful not to overdo it; after 24 hours, the sugar and acid from the coffee will start to break down the meat's muscle fibers, resulting in strangely mushy bacon.

When it comes to optimal texture, how you arrange and cook your bacon is also important. For a super crispy consistency, twist your bacon and bake a batch in the air fryer. These two approaches together maximize the amount of heat from all sides so that the meat becomes less chewy and more crunchy.

Making the most of your marinade

When done right, coffee-flavored bacon can stand on its own as a tasty side dish to accompany a plate of scrambled eggs and toast, but it also makes a great flavor-boosting addition to main course meals. To satisfy a savory-meets-sweet craving, make a decadent French Toast sandwich layered with this unique bacon and drizzled with maple syrup. If you want to keep things on the salty side, try a creative take on a classic bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich. (And maybe serve with a hot cup of strong coffee to complement the marinade on the bacon.) 

Whether at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can also elevate other side dishes and vegetables, such as baked potatoes or roasted Brussels sprouts, by crumbling this special bacon and sprinkling it over the top. You can also try this marinade on other meats. It works especially well on different kinds of pork, such as a succulent pork chop, but you can just as easily and deliciously apply it to a leg of lamb or steak.