In northeastern North Carolina, and several other parts of the country, summer really isn’t summer without smoked pork. That said, neither is fall, winter, or spring. This kind of cooking is a ritual and usually carries some subtext of a super relaxed afternoon, day-drinking, and some good company. The day before we made this Coffee-Rubbed Smoked Pork Butt, I’d been writing an article for Mashed about adding coffee to your steak rub. I couldn’t get the dang idea out of my mind, except I wanted to test it out on pork. So after some thought, I added ground coffee to Bon Appetit’s very basic 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub. Immediately, I knew it was all my luscious little pork butt needed. The rich, roasty, slightly bitter flavor of the coffee married perfectly with paprika, salt, sugar, and cayenne. The only thing left to add was a little smoke.
A word about the size of your meat
Speaking of pork butts, I feel like haters are gonna hate on this recipe a bit. It uses a 3-pound pork butt and that is basically unheard of in grocery stores these days. But, I’m posting it anyway because we got this pork butt from Crowd Cow and, for the foreseeable future, I will never not support their sustainable, ethically-sound selection of meats. Not an ad, just my honest opinion after being a customer for about a year. Yes, this pork butt is smaller than the 6 to 10-pound versions you’ll find in most grocery stores. But, the quality is literally ah-mazing. If the pork butt you use is in the 6 to 10-pound range – no problem. Just follow the formula of smoking it for 1.5 hours per pound, plan to get up a little earlier in the morning, and you’ll be fine
Smoking doo-dads we love
So, my husband mans the smoker in this house and, after 10 years of practice, he’s got his routine down. He started out on a simple Weber charcoal grill and has since graduated to this off-set smoker. It’s relatively inexpensive and still gets the job done. His favorite brand of charcoal is Royal Oak because it’s hardwood lump charcoal and burns hotter than other brands. Lastly, he uses applewood chunks from Weber for good, smoky flavor with a subtle sweetness. If you’re new to smoking check out a site like Smoked BBQ Source for details on how to get up and running.
Ok, less talk, more pork butt. The key to any good smoked pork is to put your spice rub on the butt 12 hours before you want to smoke it. Wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate it overnight. This moves salt into the meat, fancy fancy science osmosis occurs and -boom – your pork is saturated with flavor. When you start prepping your smoker, take the pork butt out of the fridge and let some of the chill come off. Putting a cold pork butt on your smoker can tack many many annoying minutes onto your cook time.
Magic formula: 250 degrees, 1.5 hours per pound, till it reaches 190
Once you’re ready, put your butt on to smoke and let it go at 250 degrees for about 4.5 hours – or 1.5 hours per pound of meat. We opted not to mop this one because it looked super moist with a gorgeous bark already. By all means, spread a little apple cider vinegar love on there if you like. When the pork reaches 190 degrees, take it off and wrap it tightly in foil for at least 1 hour, up to 3 hours. When you’re ready to pull the meat, I highly recommend meat claws because they sound great and are highly effective. The meat will be incredibly tender and you’ll eat half of it right off the cutting board before you’re done.
This coffee rubbed pulled pork is incredibly delicious piled high on a soft bun with a dash (or eight) of hot sauce and some coleslaw. Most importantly, just don’t forget to fully enjoy your pork butt smoking day. I think I remember every single time Joey and I have done it and I never want to forget it. “These are the good old days” and all that💕
*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links to the smoking stuff we reliably use Every. Single. Time. from which I may earn an income.Print
Coffee-Rubbed Smoked Pork Butt
This smoked pork butt recipe is a game-changer. The secret is temperature, timing, and the best dang coffee spice rub you’ve ever tasted. We didn’t use a mop but, by all means, feel free. A little apple cider vinegar never hurt anyone.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 12-15 hours inactive/resting time
- Cook Time: 4.5 hours *depending on the weight of your pork butt
- Total Time: 5 hours plus 12-15 hours inactive time
- Yield: 6–8 servings 1x
- Category: main dishes
- Method: smoking
- Cuisine: American
- 3-lb pork butt *see note for options here
- about 6 TBS coffee spice rub
coffee spice rub
- 4 TBS kosher salt
- 3 TBS light brown sugar
- 2 TBS ground coffee
- 2 TBS paprika
- 1 TBS cayenne
- Mix all ingredients for the Coffee Spice Rub together in a bowl. 12 hours before you plan to smoke your pork butt, coat it with enough of this mixture to cover the whole thing. Wrap the pork tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. If your butt has a large fat cap, note that before you cover it with spices and mark that side with a sharpie on the plastic wrap – you’ll want to place it on the smoker fat side up.
- One hour before you want to put your pork butt on the smoker, take it out of the fridge and let some of the chill come off.
- Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees. Put the pork butt on the smoker fat side up and maintain a temp of 250 degrees for about 4.5 hours or until it reaches an internal temp of 190 degrees.
- Remove the pork butt from the smoker, wrap the whole thing tightly in foil, and let rest for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
- Shred the pork, using these aptly named meat claws, if you have them. Serve with a dash of hot sauce, on soft buns, with coleslaw, if that’s your style.
The timing of this recipe will vary based on how heavy your pork butt is. Ours came from Crowd Cow and they seem to naturally run smaller (*albeit sustainable and very high quality!) We used a 3-lb boneless butt, although bone-in is great if you can get it and the bone adds some weight. Many pork butts found in traditional grocery stores are 6-10 pounds. A good formula to abide by is to smoke it 1.5 hours per pound. If you’re smoking a 10 lb pork butt, plan to get up very early in the morning.
Keywords: pulled pork, smoked pork butt, smoker recipe, coffee rubbed pork