The origin of coffee will forever be a mystery—one Ethiopian tale suggests a goat herder discovered it after his flock feasted on coffee beans instead of berries—but Philadelphia chefs continue to rewrite the story of the energy-inducing elixir with each new dish. Here, a sampling of cocktails and plates with a jolt of java.
“We use espresso grounds for the rub on all of our meats here. The coffee pairs exceptionally well with the sweetness of the pork and prime briskets. Using coffee to boost flavor is nothing new in many cuisines. People often see it more in desserts... a little espresso in chocolate cake batter will boost the cocoa profile tremendously. However, try some in chili or even in your barbecue sauce, or roast some carrots whole in coffee beans.” 1208 Frankford Ave., 215.391.4888, fettesauphilly.com
“At K’Far, we’re using coffee in our stuffed eggplant. It’s based on a traditional Turkish dish, so we stuff the eggplant with beef that’s braised in Turkish coffee and season it with cinnamon and a smoky spice blend we get from La Boîte. We finish the dish with tehina mixed with Turkish coffee and lemon juice—sounds unusual, but it’s totally awesome.” 110 S. 19th St., 267.800.7200, kfarcafe.com
“Our espresso budino, one of Scarpetta’s classic desserts, is a beautiful marriage of coffee and dessert. We use our own roaster, Corso, for all of our coffee. The blend for espresso provides a beautiful array of chocolate, bruleed pear, and hints of cinnamon. The coffee beans are always ground fresh and infused into a milk and cream anglaise. I love the final touch of hazelnut praline, salted caramel sauce, hazelnut gelato, and chocolate chip biscotti.” 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, 215.558.4199, scarpettarestaurants.com
“It only makes sense to use coffee in as many ways as possible at Double Knot. The restaurant’s day-to-night vibe and versatility are mirrored in our menu of coffee cocktails. Right now, my favorite coffee cocktail at Double Knot is the Midtown Flip. It’s a really interesting take on a Flip with bourbon. I’ll never turn that down. Our coffee partner, Elixr, roasts a smooth high-quality product that plays so well when making cocktails.” 120 S. 13th St., 215.631.3868, doubleknotphilly.com
Photography by: BY STEVE LEGATO; COURTESY OF STARR RESTAURANTS; BY NEAL SANTOS; COURTESY SCHULSON COLLECTIVE