How to Throw a Coffee-themed Dinner Party

Seeing as how coffee is the life force that gets you through your day, may we suggest it as the main ingredient in your next potluck?

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Photo by: Shane Redsar ©Shane Redsar

Shane Redsar, Shane Redsar

When it comes to potlucks and dinner parties, we’ve never met one we didn’t like* ‑ and we’ve never liked them more than when there’s a theme.

*see here, here and here for proof.

Seeing as how coffee is the life force that gets you through your day, may we suggest it as the main ingredient in your next potluck? With a strict rule of “no coffee cake” you’re sure to see some interesting dishes. Just be sure to supply your guests with a sleeping pill on their way out, lest you want your friends to rue the day you were born as they lie wired in bed that night.

Below are four coffee-centric courses and some interesting recipes for each. But remember, just as you wouldn’t use a cheap wine to cook with, you shouldn’t use crappy coffee either. Sticking to the rule “If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it” also applies to java.


Coffee makes for a great tried-and-true cocktail, like in the Irish Coffee or White Russian, but you can offer your guests something new and fun (and delicious!) with these crafty cocktail recipes.

Drunken Donuts Cocktail (pictured above) ‑ Alie & Georgia (we had to)
Francis the Mule ‑ from Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh via Imbibe
Mexican Coffee Cocktail ‑ from This Girl Walks Into A Bar
Orange Coffee Cocktail ‑ from Drinks Mixer

While your guests are sipping their coffee cocktail concoctions, pass these apps to get everyone buzzing and prepped for the caffeinated dinner to come.

Coffee-Chipotle Brisket Sliders ‑ from Daily Waffle
Spicy Coffee-Glazed Meatballs ‑ from That’s So Michelle

Barbecue Chicken Hoecakes with Vinegar Slaw ‑ from Art Smith via Epicurious

Devils on Horseback ‑ from Marvin Gapultos via Serious Eats
Main course:

Coffee and meat, together at last. Try a simple dry rub or coffee-infused barbecue sauce, or go crazy and add some joe to your sides and veggies for a little bit of bitter smokiness.

Babyback Ribs with Espresso Barbecue Sauce ‑ from Michael Chiarello
with Coffee Gravy ‑ from Sandra Lee
Spicy Vegetarian Chili with Coffee ‑ from Food Network
Candied Sweet Potatoes (with Kahlua) ‑ from George Duran

Pot-Roasted Celery Root with Olive & Buttermilk ‑ from René Redzepi via Bon Appetit


We’ve proven that coffee tastes great in any course, but let’s face it, the bean’s best friend is dessert. We like to think out of the box when it comes to themed dinners, so forget standbys like tiramisu and cappuccino cheesecake and instead wow your guests with something they’ve never tried before.

Coffee Toffee ‑ from Smitten Kitchen
Coffee Jello ‑ from The Food Librarian
Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies ‑ from Smitten Kitchen

Mocha-Mousse with Sichuan Peppercorns ‑ from Raquel Carena via Gourmet

Now that your guests are nicely satiated and just a tad bit overcaffeinated, passing out a warm cup of chamomile with a splash of fernet, alongside a Tylenol PM, will close out the night nicely.

Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark are best friends who met outside a tragically hip dive bar in Los Angeles. Together, they created the cocktail abomination called the McNuggetini. You can find them on Cooking Channel stirring up Drinks with Alie and Georgia, getting schooled on Classy Ladies and devouring desserts for Unique Sweets. Find out more about them here.


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