Coffee Shop Salsa

Don’t want to hear the backstory? Jump straight to the recipe.

When I was in high school I worked at a coffee shop in Soutwestern Virginia. This coffee shop was a study hangout for the local college and served a lot more than just lattes and scones. They made a lot of salads, wraps, and sandwiches to fuel the late night study binges and after-church lunches. This coffee shop was the only game in town in the pre-Starbucks era, and to this day in that town if you say that you’re going to “the coffee shop” everyone knows exactly where you are headed.

The Coffee Shop

When you ordered any food item on the menu at the coffee shop, it either came with a side salad or tortilla chips with their signature spicy salsa. The menu and store itself have expanded a lot since then. It has changed management a few times and they have improved a lot of things. However, they got rid of their signature salsa and moved to a pre-made version.

As a young high-schooler working in food service for the first time, this gutted me. The coffee shop salsa started my love affair with spicy food. To this day, I am a crazy person that thinks that coffee and chips/salsa are a great combination. Being the pre-smartphone days, I found the old recipe in the store recipe book and wrote it on the back of a receipt. I’ve been making this salsa for a long time since then. I’ve tweaked it several times, but I’m presenting it as the original version. Be warned though – it’s a garlic bomb.


The Original Recipe
  • 4 cups whole tomatoes
  • ½ cup jarred pickled jalapenos
  • ⅔ cup minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro


Optionally, I like to roast some of my vegetables under the broiler to get a smoky taste before I blend together. Put the tomatoes and onion on a pan and broil until charred to your liking.

Layer the ingredients in the blender in the following order:
1) Half of the tomatoes (2 cups)
2) Jalapenos
3) Garlic
4) Onion
5) Cilantro
6) The rest of the tomatoes (remaining 2 cups)

If the second batch of the tomatoes does not fit in your blender, you can leave them out, blend the rest of the mixture a bit and then add them. The blending will reduce the total volume in the blender.

You should blend for 2-3 seconds at a time until well combined. The mixture should remain chunky.

The salsa will darken in color as it sits and the air bubbles work their way out. Refrigerating overnight will make the flavors meld even more.

Store the salsa in the refrigerator.

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