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Exploring Coffee: Take It From Morning Beverage to Evening Meal

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

vintage photo of coffee and coffee maker

vintage photo of coffee and coffee maker

Our Obsession With Coffee

Americans—we love our coffee. Each day 64 percent of us (157 million) choose coffee as our morning eye-opener. Whether you take it black or with cream; decaf, half-caf, or high-octane espresso; hot or iced; foam or no foam, coffee has a firm grip on our everyday lives. In fact, the grasp is so tight it seems we cannot exist without it. When polled by, coffee drinkers admitted that:

  • 55 percent would rather gain ten pounds than give up coffee for life.
  • If given the choice of coffee or a morning shower, 52 percent would opt to skip the shower.
  • Almost half (49 percent) would give up their cell phone for a month rather than give up coffee.

Why do we love coffee? Some of us say it’s for the flavor. If you frequent the corner espresso bar in your neighborhood there might be a social aspect to your habit. But most of us believe that we need that kick of caffeine to rev our engines. Of course, there are other sources of caffeine—tea, cola, and chocolate, but coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States.

Starbucks opened a coffee house in 1971 in the heart of Seattle's Pike Place Market, and our world was forever changed. As of November 2016, it operates 23,768 locations worldwide, including more than 13,000 in the United States.

Want another “eye-opening” statistic? Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, equivalent to 146 billion cups of coffee per year, making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world.

Coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition, the shafts of which start up like sharpshooters. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink

— Honoré de Balzac, "The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee"

Coffee for Wine?

You are no doubt familiar with the concept of cooking with wine. Wine added to a sauce or used to deglaze a pan is not there for the alcohol—the alcohol vaporizes quite quickly with the application of heat. But what is left is the nuance of oak or apricot, straw or strawberry—all of the flavors that wine connoisseur might use to describe the complex flavors of wine.

But, what about coffee?

Experiencing coffee is actually very similar to tasting wine. As wine grapes are influenced by soil and climate, coffee also picks up nuanced flavors from variances in altitude, terrain, and weather. Good-quality coffee contains hints of fruit and spice. So the addition of a bit coffee can enhance and deepen your dining experience and it imparts the umami flavor that mimics the tastes we love in chicken and beef. In fact, when it comes to adding flavors, coffee knocks it out of the park. More than 850 flavor compounds can be found in a roasted coffee bean, wine has no more than 200.

Let's look at a few possibilities:

Vegetarian Chili with Coffee

Vegetarian Chili with Coffee

"Carb Diva" Vegetarian Chili with Coffee


  • 1/2 cup dry pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup dry kidney beans
  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, or more if you like it hot
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
  • 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, (remove the seeds if you want less heat)
  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee, divided
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Carefully sort through the beans. Rinse well and place in a large stockpot. Add 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour.
  2. Drain the beans and return to the pot. Add water to cover the beans by an inch or so; bring to a boil. Simmer until the beans are very tender, 1 to 2 hours. Drain the beans. Place the drained beans back in the pot and set aside. (By the way, are you wondering why we drain the beans rather than cooking them in the soaking water? My experience is that using freshwater prevents some of the rooty-tooty of cooked beans).
  3. Place the tomatoes, spices, and jalapenos in a blender container--blend until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a large saute pan cook the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until they give off their water, the water evaporates, and they begin to brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Next, add the remaining oil to the pan and simmer the carrots, onion, and celery over medium heat until the vegetables are soft--about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and bay leaves and saute one minute more. Add the tomato/spice mixture, the sauteed mushrooms, and the sauteed vegetables to the stockpot of beans. Stir in 1/2 cup of the coffee.
  7. Simmer over low heat until heated through and the flavors are blended--about 15 minutes. Add more of the coffee if needed to prevent burning. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste for salt and pepper and season accordingly.
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Read More From Delishably

Why this recipe works

  • Starting with dried beans instead of canned requires a bit of planning ahead and certainly increases the preparation and cooking times, but the payback is worth it. Canned beans, even those marketed as "low sodium" contribute a great deal of salt to one's diet. Dried beans contain no sodium. And dried beans cost considerably less than the canned product.
  • Mushrooms are a wonderful substitute for the umami flavor of beef or beef and pork.
  • Diced carrot and celery add fiber, texture (so that you won't miss the 'mouth-feel' of meat), and a bit of sweetness to temper the bite of chili powder.
  • Coffee enhances and deepens the rich earthy flavors.
  • Lemon juice might seem an odd addition to a pot of chili, but just 2 teaspoons will "brighten" the flavors, reducing the need for additional salt.
Crock Pot Coffee Pot Roast

Crock Pot Coffee Pot Roast

Crock Pot Coffee Pot Roast

Alice Seuffert is a regular contributor to Scary Mommy where she shares her thoughts on motherhood and provides a realistic and empathetic approach to the joys and challenges that motherhood presents. She also provides her readers with easy, accessible and creative recipes in Dining with Alice. Here you will find everything from cocktails to casseroles and find a new friend. Her recipe for Crock Pot Coffee Pot Roast is rich and flavorful, and slow-cooker easy.

It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind those who apparently view it as a recreational activity.

— Dave Barry, humorist

Mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and butter

Mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and butter

Vegetarian Mushroom Bourguignon

In 1961 Julia Child taught us how to cook a perfect Beef Bourguignon in her classic cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I love Julia's original recipe, but here are a few reasons why I made my own version.

  • Julia's recipe takes almost 6 hours to prepare. Admittedly, this isn't all active time; several hours are spent merely waiting for simmering chunks of beef to become tender. Nevertheless, that's a bit more time than I want to devote to any meal (with the exception of Thanksgiving).
  • I lost count of how many pots, pans, and cooking implements were used to prepare this dish. I'm pretty sure that someone else was washing the dishes.
  • And, the most obvious reason why I hesitate to prepare this is that my daughters are vegetarian. I would be remiss as a mom (and certainly as the Carb Diva) if I gave them only Garden Burgers and stir-fried tofu to eat.

So here is my recipe for a rich, dark, savory bourguignon without the beef.


Serve over mashed potatoes: Makes 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter, divided
  • 2 pounds crimini mushrooms, stems trimmed, cut in half or quarters if large
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 cup pearl onions (I like to use the frozen ones—all of the prep work has been done for you)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup full-bodied red wine (Merlot is a good choice)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Minced fresh parsley, garnish (optional)


  1. Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to brown; remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. (No, don’t add the lone tablespoon of butter at this time. That comes up later in the recipe). Add the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and several grinds of black pepper to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. You want the garlic to become fragrant, but don't let it brown. Garlic burns very easily, and burnt garlic is bitter garlic.
  3. Add the wine to the pot; increase the heat to high and begin to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. This is called “fond” and is what makes the rich, savory, meaty-like flavor. Cook until the wine is reduced by half. Then stir in the broth, coffee and tomato paste.
  4. Bring the heat back down to a simmer. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected; once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender.
  5. Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork; stir into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency; season to taste. Garnish with minced parsley if desired.

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

This recipe is by Jerry James Stone, from "Made with Coffee: A Cookbook for Coffee Lovers, Caffeine Addicts, and Foodies." It was published in the Costco Connection in August 2018.


Makes 10 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for croutons (the toasted bread served on top of French onion soup)
  • 4 pounds onions, julienned
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups brewed coffee, dark roast
  • 2 tablespoons Shinshu (yellow) miso
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 baguette, cut into 1-inch slices
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a Dutch oven, warm 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat and add onions, tossing to coat. Increase heat to medium-high and stir every 10 minutes. If onions begin to burn, reduce heat. Cook for an hour, until onions are golden and jammy.
  3. Add broth, coffee, miso, garlic and thyme to pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  4. While soup simmers, prepare the croutons. Place baguette slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with oil and bake about 15 minutes until toasty. Be careful not to burn them.
  5. When the soup is ready, add salt and pepper to taste. Divide soup into ramekins and top with croutons and shredded cheese. Place ramekins in a baking dish, place the baking dish in the middle rack and broil on low until the cheese has melted.

© 2017 Linda Lum

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