Gunslinger Jerky has been selling in the Chicago, IL area for about a few years now. It's the creation of Dustin Miller and his wife Ashley.
The brand, which bills itself as "Chicago's original rock 'n roll jerky company", is sold in several bars where the city's music scene thrives late into the night. Dustin Miller, who picked guitar for local area band Sons of Fire, saw a market for band members, bartenders, and music-goers whose stomachs needed something more substantial than booze.
This Cowboy Coffee beef jerky is one of the company's limited release flavors currently selling. Described as "sweet & spicy with a savory coffee rub", it's made with real coffee from Dark Matter Coffee Company of Chicago, IL.
Beef, water, soy sauce, coffee, brown sugar, molasses, salt, ancho-chili powder, hickory powder, onion powder, cayenne, spices.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor. A bit of a chile pepper flavor comes in along with a light saltiness, and a touch of sweet. There's faint notes of the coffee in the background.
The chewing adds a natural meat flavor to the mix and perhaps a touch of soy sauce. There's a wee bit of spiciness in the background.
For being described as "sweet & spicy", and with a "savory coffee rub", it seems to live up somewhat. It's certainly sweet and spicy, though more spicy than sweet. But the "savory coffee rub" part is hard to determine. Yes, overall the jerky has a savory character, but not so much on the coffee. I can pick up a faint coffee flavor but it's not very well pronounced. If you didn't know there was coffee in this, you'd never suspect it. However, it seems to color the flavor somewhat, giving it a slight mocha, java influence.
Otherwise, the flavors that seem to define this jerky is the chile pepper seasonings, producing more taste than heat. I get that chili powder and cayenne flavor combo, along with a light brush of onion. The sweetness from the brown sugar adds a light bit of body against a light natural meat flavor.
The level of heat in this feels light. I'd rank it on my personal heat scale as mild-medium (level 2 out of 5).
These are slices of whole meat, cut into strips and slabs of small to medium sizes, and sliced medium thickness.
This is a dry jerky having a dry surface feel. These pieces have a good deal of flexibility. Chewing ranges from easy to moderate.
The chewing texture starts out feeling tender but still offering bit of resistance. After a few chews it starts to soften up and takes on a meaty feel. By the time it's chewed down to a soft mass, it feels very like real pieces of steak.
I see some small spots of fat on several pieces, but no gristle or tendon. The stringiness is very minimal.
As for clean eating, it's very clean. I found no residue on my fingertips, but I do see a light amount of tiny black flecks, perhaps ground coffee, on my desk.
Gunslinger Jerky sells this Cowboy Coffee beef jerky from its website at a price of $7.99 for a 2.75oz package. If you bought two packages, shipping comes to $4.95. That works out to a price of $3.81 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes at the $3.81 per ounce price, it's a weak value. I do get a good overall flavor, great meat consistency and chewing, but that's a high price for gourmet jerky compared to other brands that I've rated similar or better.
For being marketed as a sweet & spicy jerky with a savory coffee rub, it's a weak value as well. It does have a sweet & spicy taste, though light on the sweet. But the coffee rub doesn't really add a whole lot to the flavor. For the most part, this is largely a light-to-moderate spiced jerky, with a light sweetness.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Cowboy Coffee beef jerky from Gunslinger has a tasty, savory character marked primarily by the flavors of chili powder and cayenne, brushed with a little onion, some sweet, and a swash of smokiness. It's a sweet & spicy jerky weighted more on the spice and lighter on the sweet.
But for having been marketed as a coffee rubbed jerky, and co-branded with the Dark Matter Coffee logo, there's very little coffee to taste. I do taste a faint coffee note, but I wouldn't have found it if I didn't know there was coffee in this. In that regards, there's some disappointment.
However, if you take this jerky at it's material value, what you have is a great meat consistency and chewing texture, mostly soft, tender chewing, and very meaty. It has a light natural meat flavor, and then bolstered with a nice spiciness, and light touches of marinade and seasonings.
If anything, the coffee ingredient should help keep late night bar patrons rockin' on.
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