Black Bean Coffee Chili (with a surprise ingredient!)

by Rebekahcooked up on April 11, 2012

I am so proud of this recipe. It has depth. It has heat. It has smokiness. It’s (accidentally) vegan. But it’s definitely the best chili I’ve ever made.

I am sharing it with my coworkers today at the Soup Club at work. Hope they like it too! 🙂

It’s really fun to create your own soup/chili/stew recipes because unlike other types of food, there’s never a point where it’s going to be totally done, and unable to be changed. Cookies will be totally done in ten minutes. Bread dough can’t be changed once it goes in the oven. Soup, however, you can toy with. You can gradually add the flavors you want and fill in the gaps for what is missing. And that is what I did here.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups of coffee
  • 2 cans of stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 2 diced yellow or white onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2-4 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I used canned, and give them a fine dice)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon excellent quality cocoa (I used Penzey’s Dutch process)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

I know it sounds crazy, but that cocoa is the best part of this chili. It smells incredible and adds a great depth to the flavor of this chili. It takes a lot of skill to cook vegetarian food consistently that has great depth. I certainly can’t do it all the time. This time, though, I’m really proud of it. I did set out to make it vegetarian, and I think that adding meat would actually take away from the smokiness. I guess on that note, if I did have to add some meat I’d add bacon. Maybe some of the black-pepper crusted stuff. Anywho, it turned out to also be vegan.

Start by dicing your onions and adding them to a stock pot or large Dutch oven with the olive oil. Cook for about five minutes, until they begin to soften.

Add to the mix the two cans of stewed tomatoes (with the water), 1 cup of the coffee, the garlic, the chili powder and cumin. Bring to a simmer and cover, keeping the simmering going for about 30 minutes.

Next, add the rinsed black beans, another cup of coffee, cocoa, cinnamon and Chipotle peppers in adobo. Taste, and salt and pepper to your liking. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

This level will be a decent amount of spiciness but not too crazy. If you really don’t like spicy things, skip the chipotle chiles.

Serve with sour cream green onions and cheese.


  1. Oh, I made a black bean chili all the time but I’ve never included coffee or chocolate! I imagine it gives it a molé-ish flavor? In any case, it looks/sounds awesome.

    Comment by lindsay | rosemarried — April 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

  2. Yes! The coffee adds depth but doesn’t make it taste like coffee, per se. The cocoa tastes amazing, and for some reason in this application it really contributes to the smell. I couldn’t stop smelling it! haha

    Comment by bekky — April 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm

  3. Love the sound of this, but wish there were more details on the recipe. How many does this serve? What size cans, especially for the stewed tomatoes, since they are available in small and larger cans. Thanks

    Comment by Tom F. — January 24, 2014 at 6:11 am

  4. Tom, thanks for your comment. I’d say it serves at least six, maybe more. I used the smaller cans of tomatoes – I don’t have the oz. handy at the moment. Thank you for reading!

    Comment by bekky — January 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

  5. I made this for a dinner party tonight and it was loved by all. I basically made a recipe and a half , although it looked more like tomato chile than black bean and so I added a fourth 15 oz can of beans pretty early on. With a party of five at the table, cornbread and roasted squash on the side plus a salad, there were only two servings of the chile to go into the fridge, so I would say I basically had enough for six. Next time I’ll double the recipe and increase the beans because I really want more leftovers!

    I also modified the spices by using equal amounts of oregano, cumin and dried ground chipotle chiles, I did not have any chile powder or chipotles in adobo, regardless the spicing seems just right.

    Thanks very much!

    Comment by Tom F. — January 25, 2014 at 8:54 pm

  6. […] 11. Black Bean Coffee Chili […]

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