Smoked Pork Shoulder with Coffee Rub

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Happy Fourth of July to everyone!  This is one of my favorite summertime recipes—smoked pork shoulder with a delicious coffee spice rub. It's perfect for a weekend bash, or weekday dinner when you're hoping for leftovers to survive on for the rest of the week. Serve it alongside this quinoa and fennel salad (just omit the chicken), summer grilled corn salad, or chili.

This coffee-rubbed smoked pork shoulder is one of my favorite summer traditions to enjoy with a table surrounded by friends. |


Smoked Pork Shoulder

Smoking meats are something of a summer tradition on the California Central Coast, and beyond, I’m sure. If you’ve ever found yourself driving along highway 101 (otherwise known as the-101), you’ve probably driven by Firestone Walker brewery which is on most people’s must-eat lists.

While I admit I haven’t personally eaten there in over a decade, probably longer if I really think about it, I can still remember the familiar smell of their smoked pulled pork sandwiches, which is a bucket list item for any foodie (I hate the term foodie). Along with a trip sandwich from Rancho Nipomo BBQ.

If you can’t get to either place off the 101, your next best option is to invest in a smoker and create your own smoked meats. I’m clearly not a grill master, therefore I am rarely (usually never) the person manning the smoker during the summertime when low and slow wins the race. My role in smoking meats starts and ends in the kitchen, with concocting a mish-mash of spices that go oh-so-well together with smoked flavors and aromas. 

This coffee-rubbed smoked pork shoulder is one of my favorite summer traditions to enjoy with a table surrounded by friends. |

I’ve always been a fan of using high quality coffee as a blend in spice rubs, and I think it stands up incredibly well with oak or applewood smoked chips. I really wanted to create a blend of spices that wouldn’t melt away or be overpowered by the smoked flavors of the wood. While I’ve used a bit of smokey spices (paprika, allspice, cumin), I’ve also used some sweeter spices such as brown sugar, dried orange peel, and oregano. 

Your cooking method is going depend upon whether or not you’re cooking with a gas grill or charcoal grill. My husband uses a charcoal grill and tends to use what he calls hardwood charcoal for indirect heat. If you happen to use a gas grill, you’re going to add your wood chips to a foil packet or a smoker box. Depending upon the size of the pork shoulder you’re cooking, you’ll be cooking it for 2 1/2 to 5 hours, just keep an eye on it. You’ll also need to replenish the charcoal to the hot grill. 

This coffee-rubbed smoked pork shoulder is one of my favorite summer traditions to enjoy with a table surrounded by friends.

The pork is done when it’s fall-off-the-fork tender, and the internal temperature is between 160º and 165º. Don’t check the temperature too often because you’ll lose heat and the cooking will slow down. When it’s done, transfer the pork to a carving board, and cover loosely with foil and rest for 20 minutes.

I really love pairing this smoked pork shoulder with Rhône blends, such as Kaleidos Morpheus, which is a blend of 65% Syrah, 25% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre or High on the Hog from McPrice Myers, which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.

Smoked Pork Shoulder with Coffee Spice Rub

Yield: 8 servings
Author: R. Goldman
prep time: 2 H & 20 Mcook time: 4 hourtotal time: 6 H & 20 M


  • 5 pounds Bone-in pork shoulder, fat trimmed to about 1/8 inch
  • 1/3 cup Freshly ground columbian coffee
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried allspice
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/3 cup sweet paprika
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


How to cook Smoked Pork Shoulder with Coffee Spice Rub

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the spices together and set aside. Rinse the pork shoulder under cold water, thoroughly drying it with a paper towel.
  2.   Rub the oil over the pork, getting into every nook and cranny. Generously rub the spice mixture over the pork shoulder and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to really get in there.
  3. Prepare a grill using hardwood charcoal. Place a drip pan beneath the position on the grill where you plan to cook the meat. Add about 2 cups of boiling water to the drip pan and if there’s enough room, another pan of hot water on the rack beside the meat. 
  4.  Add a handful of wood chips over the hot coals. . Place the pork on the grill rack over the drip pan. Cover the grill and maintain a temperature of about 275ºF.
  5.   Cook the pork for 3 1/2 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the shoulder.Add more coals and chips as you’re cooking once the temperature drops.
  6.  The pork is finished when the internal temperature of the shoulder registers 160ºF.Remove from grill and cover loosely with foil for about 20 minutes.
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