The Ingredient That Will Change Your Spaghetti Sauce Forever

There are some kitchen staples that seem to exist in so many types, it can be hard to keep track — and one of these is pasta sauce. Just within the genre of tomato sauce alone, there's marinara, puttanesca, amatriciana, vodka, and more, per Food & Wine; that's not even getting into oily sauces like pesto or creamy sauces like alfredo.

Apart from the sheer number of sauces with which you can choose to slick your pasta, there are a whole bevy of variations on the standard recipes. Some cooks swear by adding a spoonful of sugar to overly acidic tomatoes; others like to add a glug of red wine for increased depth of flavor. But have you ever heard of sprinkling some instant coffee granules into your spaghetti sauce? It's a thing, and it just might revolutionize your pasta nights.

Coffee bolognese sauce was a thing back in 2015

Bolognese sauce is a meaty tomato sauce featuring ground beef or pork that, traditionally, is simmered for hours, according to Lidia's Italy. Perhaps due to its proximity to Italy, birthplace of bolognese, Britain is awash in versions of the dish that citizens refer to as "spag bol," an abbreviation of spaghetti bolognese, as The Guardian explains. Often derided by Italians as being inauthentic, Brits nevertheless love their spag bol and indulge in it often.

Back in 2015, the British grocery chain Sainsbury's ran a campaign suggesting that customers add some instant coffee to their spag bol, as reported by BuzzFeed at the time. The suggestion launched a bit of scandal on Twitter, where people from around the world reacted incredulously to the idea of mixing coffee with spaghetti sauce. As a result of the brew ha ha (get it?), BuzzFeed reached out to Sainsbury's to ask: Are you serious?

"The coffee adds an underlying depth of flavor that helps to balance the sweetness of the tomato-based ragu," Cath Wilkins, head of consumer PR for food at Sainsbury's, told the outlet, back in 2015. Adding that doing so was "rather like adding chocolate to chili con carne."

To employ this trick at home, Sainsbury's suggested dissolving a teaspoon of instant coffee in chicken or beef stock, then mixing it into bolognese (via Live Play Eat). So the next time you want to put a twist on basic spaghetti sauce, why not reach for your jar of instant coffee?