OK fine we’ll put the damn hot sauce in our coffee, are you happy now? First it was a hot sauce made for coffee, which upon closer inspection was more of a semi-sweet flavoring with a touch of heat and sounded actually pretty ok in a latte. But you give a Scoville and they take a mile. Now people are saying to put actual, bona fide hot sauce in your coffee, and so we had to try it.
For our taste test, we followed the recipe from a recent Well + Good article. Created by chef Morgan Osborne, the director of culinary development at Archer Daniels, the key to making a tasty coffee with hot sauce is discernment and judiciousness. First, you’ll need to select the right roast profile. Light or medium is the desired roast level, per Osborne, because the bitterness of darker roasts can overpower the flavor of the hot sauce. And you can’t just slather up a cup of joe with any old spice paste, you need to choose something that isn’t vinegar-based. Vinegar “is too sharp and it undermines the flavors of the heat.” Osborne recommends Sriracha, the iconic SoCal-by-way-of-Vietnam-by-way-of-Thailand-sauce with a fascinating history, created in Los Angeles in the early 80s by Huy Fong Foods founder David Tran.
To aid in the warming effect, the recipe also calls for toasted cardamom pods to be added during the brewing process along with a teaspoon of vanilla extract post-brew. To that, add a light touch of heat—perhaps just 1-2 drops of your preferred hot sauce to start, though you may be tempted to up the ante (I ended up adding 5).
Brewing with cardamom pods is an aromatic wonderland, resulting in a layered, nuanced drink redolent with notes of cardamom and vanilla. The spice sneaks up on you: just before the exhale, a nice little tingle hits the back of your throat. You don’t taste the hot sauce so much as you feel it ever so slightly. It’s delicious.
At the end of the day, coffee is an ingredient that can be enjoyed on its own or in addition to other ingredients—sometimes in surprising, unfamiliar ways. Capsaicin in any beverage or food product will enhance the sensory experience. I never experienced it in my morning brew and you know what? It was a delightful spin that really shook up my Tuesday morning.
But don’t take our word for it. Give it a try yourself. Head over to Well + Good to get the complete recipe and spice up your morning coffee routine, and be sure to read Alan Yeh’s “A Brief History of Sriracha” to learn more (this NPR piece is great as well for an additional dive into the beloved sauce’s origins).
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.