Looking to give olive oil coffee a run for its money is a different type of condiment we usually reserve for a good ol’ potato salad: mayonnaise. Yes, we’re talking about mayo in coffee—let’s let that sink in for a minute (literally?).
According to the University of Kentucky football quarterback, Will Levis, downing a cup of coffee with a heaping glob of mayo is the way to go. Before you run for the hills screaming bloody murder, we’ve called in the experts—two coffee pros and a sports dietitian—to see if there’s any benefit to sipping on this unlikely combination or if it’s one of the easiest ways to ruin a cup of joe.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 20, 2022
@espn The Will Levis specialty ☕️ (via @will_levis) #mayo #coffee #drink #football #nfldraft ♬ original sound - Slv_Soundss
Why you should (or really shouldn’t) add mayo to your coffee, according to an RD
First things first, let’s talk benefits (or lack thereof?). According to Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, the lead registered dietitian for the Kansas City Chiefs, if fuel is the endgame, perhaps Levis is on to something.
“Mayonnaise is a source of fat and therefore energy, so yes it would provide additional fuel to a cup of plain coffee,” Bonci says. However, she notes that adding mayo for "extra fuel" is no different than adding cream, half and half, or even butter to a cup of joe—which is probably why this recipe has been deemed "bulletproof coffee 2.0" in some circles. In other words, like most things, mayo-filled coffee should probably be consumed in moderation.
“Leave my coffee alone!”—Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, the lead registered dietitian for the Kansas City Chiefs
That said, Bonci acknowledges that mayo could add a unique creamy mouthfeel to the coffee, which might be appealing to some. However, if it were solely up to her, she would rather consume this condiment mixed into a tuna salad or slathered on a slice of bread. “Leave my coffee alone!” Bonci says.
What coffee experts really think about mayo in coffee
For the sake of giving the most honest (and thorough) review of this trend, Maciej Kasperowicz, a Q grader, coffee expert, and the director of coffee at Trade Coffee, gave it a shot for himself. His reasoning? “So, I think Will Levis has basically said he was doing this as a joke, so I don’t think there’s much reason to take this seriously. That said, egg coffee is a thing—in Vietnam, for example—and mayo is basically oil that's been emulsified with eggs, so that’s maybe a reason to not totally dismiss it,” Kasperowicz says. He has a point.
“Long story short, I did try it. It tastes exactly like coffee and mayonnaise, which is only slightly gross. That said, I’m not going to do it again any time soon. And while it only tastes slightly gross, it looks very gross. Like little mayo noodles in your coffee,” Kasperowicz says.
Now the fun part: Kasperowicz’s taste test. “Long story short, I did try it. It tastes exactly like coffee and mayonnaise, which is only slightly gross. That said, I’m not going to do it again any time soon. And while it only tastes slightly gross, it looks very gross. Like little mayo noodles in your coffee,” Kasperowicz says. Talk about eye-opening.
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Genevieve Kappler, a coffee expert, roasting technologist, and the director of coffee and brewing at Roasting Plant Coffee, also has expertise to add about this trend. She chalks it up to Levis’s likely attempt to mask the flavor of bad-tasting coffee. “The caffeine-stimulating effects, or even the need for a coffee boost before a game or workout, may have made his need for coffee more important than the taste,” Kappler says.
Her theory is that he stumbled across mayo as a solution to subdue the really burnt and extremely harsh, bitter, and metallic flavor of coffee that was sitting on a hotplate for hours. “Maybe one day mayo was the only thing available to disguise the taste of bad coffee—no creamer or sugar—so he dared to try mayo,” Kappler says.
“Maybe one day mayo was the only thing available to disguise the taste of bad coffee—no creamer or sugar—so he dared to try mayo,” Kappler says.
But according to Kappler, there might be some scientific (and logical) reasons why Levis might enjoy this unexpected duo. “Salt, like sugar, diminishes the perception of bitterness on your tongue. Salt has the property to lower the solubility of the bitter compounds of coffee on the tongue—the tongue has 25 receptors for bitterness—and your taste buds won't detect them as much,” she says. Kappler also notes that the high fat content in the mayo may lessen the harshness of the coffee even more than milk, making it more palatable to some.
That said, Kappler says there’s absolutely no need to add mayo to coffee if you start with fresh, high-quality coffee. “Fresh beans that are freshly roasted to bring out all the beautiful natural flavors for a taste that is naturally silky, smooth, bright, and never bitter—no mayo or cover-ups needed,” Kappler says.
How to make your morning coffee for optimal energy:
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