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Adding Hot Sauce (Yes, Really!) To Your Coffee Will Make It Tastier and Healthier

It might sound strange, but it can make a delicious difference to your waistline

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Everyone has their favorite coffee add-ins: half and half, oat milk, skinny syrups, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or whatever else helps make 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. 

The health benefits of hot sauce

Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers (and, by extension, hot sauce) that’s responsible for their famous spiciness. Known for its pain-relieving properties, this pepper extract makes up only about 0.1 to 1 percent of the total vegetable. But despite being small in size, capsaicin in hot sauce packs some pretty big benefits.

A bottle of hot sauce tipped over before being added to coffee
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You may have heard that peppers can have some seriously slimming effects, and the research backs it up. After doing a meta-analysis of 11 studies in 2022, researchers concluded that there was a clear association between consuming spicy foods and chili peppers and increased metabolic health, which translates into faster weight loss and a reduced risk of developing diabetes.

These same researchers also found that that folks who consume more spicy food and chili peppers have significantly less risk of death from heart disease and lower blood pressure. Indeed, a paper published in 2015 that analyzed half a million Chinese adults found that the folks who ate spicy foods — including chili peppers — three or more times a week had a significantly reduced risk of death, compared to those who didn’t eat much spicy food at all. 

In the last several years, scientists have also been studying the ways by which capsaicin appears to slow the growth of cancer cells in the lab. Though researchers don’t know how the extract works within an actual human body just yet, they have watched it bind to the outer membrane of some cancer cells and lodge itself in — appearing to trigger chemical changes in the surface of the cell. Although more research is needed to confirm whether capsaicin could actually kill cancer within a human body, top hot pepper expert David Popovich, PhD, has said one theory is that capsaicin triggers a type of cell “suicide” that encourages some cells to be recycled into new ones.

What kind of hot sauce works best in coffee?

Tabasco in coffee? Just say no

Osborne 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.

Sriracha in coffee — that’s a ‘yes’

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. (If you don’t love sriracha, check out these other tasty hot sauces without vinegar.)

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 or MCT oil for weight loss. Fellow spice fans, however, should absolutely give it a try.


For more on how coffee can boost health and weight loss:

Weight Loss Coffee: Discover Dr. Bob Arnot’s ‘Lean Roast’ Secret + Other Fat-Burning Tips

Women Over 50 Are Going Crazy for Protein Coffee — And Weight Loss Is Only One Reason

Adding the New Flavored ‘Skinny Syrups’ to Water Is Helping Women Lose 200+ lbs

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