Everyone has their favorite coffee add-ins: half and half, oat milk, flavored syrups, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or whatever else makes their java hit the spot. Something most people probably don’t reach for? Hot sauce. As strange as it sounds, one chef swears that grabbing the spicy condiment can elevate our morning coffees to flavorful new heights.
As someone who never goes a day without at least three cups of coffee and slathering most of my food in hot sauce, the thought of combining the two was definitely intriguing… but also felt wrong. Morgan Osborne, chef and director of culinary development at Archer Daniels, told Well+Good she had similar reservations before she started recommending the combo.
“I’m not going to lie. I was very apprehensive to try hot sauce in coffee at first,” she admitted before remembering other zesty mixtures. “The concept of combining decadence and heat in places has been a consistent trend in the food industry, such as Mexican hot chocolate and jalapeño margaritas.”
Osborne tested several variations before finding the perfect spicy coffee technique. First, she recommends using a light or medium roast coffee. “You don’t want the bitter notes found in darker roasts to overpower the hot sauce,” she explained.
She also strongly cautions against using vinegar-heavy hot sauces (like Tabasco), explaining, “This is because the vinegar is too sharp and it undermines the flavors of the heat that you’re trying to bring to your coffee.” Osborne said she uses sriracha and that we just need a drop or two to perk up our brew.
After going back and forth on whether or not this was something I really wanted to subject myself to, I put on a brave face, grabbed my ever-present bottle of sriracha, and added a couple drops to my morning cup of joe. For reference, I drink Folgers Columbian Ground Coffee, which is a medium-dark roast, and usually just have it black.
Despite all my hemming and hawing, I can only sing the praises of this odd coupling. I actually upped the amount to about five drops of hot sauce in my mug after the initial taste test to give it a bit more of a kick. Even then, the heat and flavor weren’t at all overwhelming or distracting from the coffee.
Each sip started with the familiar aroma and flavor, then quickly followed with a delicate zing of spice as I gulped it down. It was downright delightful and I can definitely see myself adding this to my regular coffee routine.
Aside from the surprisingly lovely taste, the hot sauce comes with a couple enticing health perks: The antioxidant-rich capsaicin responsible for the heat in most chili-based options can help boost weight loss and heart health. That’s on top of the many benefits of coffee, like balancing blood sugar and lowering the risk of fatty liver disease.
Of course, if you don’t like hot sauce in general, you should skip this and stick to other healthy coffee add-ins (like turmeric!). Fellow spice fans, however, should absolutely give it a try.
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