A Friendly Spice Off - Espresso Spice Rub from V. Miller Meats, Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters and The Allspicery

We love the story behind this rub because it’s a collaboration among three small businesses that came together to make an awesome product. Depending on who you ask, the story varies slightly...which came first, the coffee or the rub recipe, how many rib eating tests were done (five, or six...we think six…) But in the end, none of that matters. What matters is this spice rub is the perfect accompaniment to all of your summer grilling. 

The recipe is basically the original recipe of Eric Veldman Miller’s of V. Miller Meats, a craft butcher shop in East Sacramento, California, and yes they had to go through all that rib eating to land on the original recipe. Eric opened V Miller Meats after a path that included graduating from the Napa Valley Cooking School in St. Helena and stints at restaurants Gary Dankoin San Francisco and Mulvaney’s of Sacramento, among others. Instructing at a cooking school led him to butchery and he became focused on whole animal butchery. An intensive apprenticeship with Master Butcher Terry Regasa of Sutter Meats in Massachusetts allowed Eric to hone his skills and develop his philosophy around local farmers with a high regard for animal welfare. The meat you buy at V Miller Meats can be traced back to the farm it came from. That is the philosophy at this butcher shop - narrowing the gap between the consumer and source. And no butcher is credible unless they know how to make a killer spice rub from scratch. 

His spice rub has been tried and true for Eric for some time. And it turns out he wasn’t the only one with a spice rub recipe. Andy and Edie Baker, who own Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters had their own recipe too. Which, of course, included coffee beans. Chocolate Fish has been an East Sac staple since 2009, and when V. Miller Meats moved in a few doors down, in 2015, the collaboration began...or lets call it a challenge. Eric, basically told Edie he could make a better spice rub. Edie agreed to test his theory because Eric was using...let’s say…less than ideal coffee beans…  Once they decided to collaborate they realized they would need to source the best spices available as well.  Enter The Allspicery and Heather Wong. 

A little more about Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasting and what makes their beans so special? Coffee beans only grow in certain parts of the world, and Andy and Edie search out the best, meet their producers, and roast to their unique flavor chart. If you think of coffee beans as a chicken thigh, what each chef (roaster) does with it is really where the creativity and flavor come in. One of my favorite things about buying beans at Chocolate Fish is their custom made flavor chart to help you navigate the range of options so you go home with a bag of coffee that you actually like. 

So how does Heather Wong and The Allspicery come into play? Well, when she opened her storefront in downtown Sacramento five years ago, she was the only one-stop spice store in town. She opened the shop almost on a whim. She was a longtime lover of spices and world flavors, and she and her husband had the good fortune to travel the world, eating their way through their travels, before they settled in Sacramento. She was a lifelong cook, especially of exotic cuisines, and when they moved to Sacramento she grew frustrated with the lack of spices available to her. In 2015 she stumbled upon the Calling All Dreamers competition – and won! 

Her store is now a great resource for the cooking curious who are not sure where to begin, as well as the seasoned cook. Some of her more popular products include the Espresso Spice Rub, and SacTown Allergy Tea which is a local favorite during allergy season.  When Eric and Edie decided to collaborate they needed to source the best spices available and that's when they realized they needed The Allspicery. That is how these three small businesses collaborated and produced this tasty and popular spice rub. 

We love the story behind this spice rub because it represents the community in Sacramento and the relationships that are formed among farmers, chefs and makers that are supportive and collaborative. Watch our video to hear more about the collaboration and the rib tasting. Below we share with you how we like to use this rub in combination with Hazel’s BBQ Sauce which is also featured on our July Farm to Fork in a Box. 


Espresso Spice Rub and Hazel’s BBQ Sauce Tri-Tip


  • 2-3 pound trip-tip. (Tri-tip is a distinctly California cut of meat, so if your butcher doesn’t have it, simply get a cut of meat you prefer. Ribs work for this as well.)
  • Espresso Spice Rub
  • Haze’s BBQ Sauce - Mild (If you want spicy, get Hazel's spicy sauce. If the spicy is too spicy, just mix the two to your liking.


  • Charcoal or gas grill
  • Tongs
  • Cutting board (meat board with a trough to capture juices)
  • Meat thermometer


Trim the silver skin and any excess fat off the meat. Sprinkle the meat generously with the rub and massage it in, until the entire piece is coated. Cover and refrigerate no less than one hour and up to 24 hours.  Remove from the refrigerator one hour before cooking. Prepare the grill with the heat offset to one side. Place the meat directly over the heat and sear each side for about 5 minutes.  Once you have it seared nicely, move the meat off the heat, and cover the grill. Depending on your charcoal or gas setting and the size of the meat, cooking can take up to 90 minutes. Once the meat is close to the doneness you like, slather it with BBQ sauce and close the lid for another 5 minutes or so. Use a meat thermometer for best results. For medium rare remove the meat from the grill when the thickest part reaches 130 degrees. This next part is important – in order to keep the meat nice and juicy - let it rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes. Then slice and add some more sauce. Yum.


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