In the summer, a jolting glass of cold brew cuts through the oppressive heat. In the dreary winter months, there’s nothing quite like curling up under a blanket with a piping cup of coffee.
While coffee has powerful antioxidants and numerous health benefits, that doesn’t mean it’s always healthy.
Sugar, artificial flavoring, pesticides – how you prepare and consume your coffee can make all the difference in the world.
Here’s what you should avoid and 10 ways to make healthy coffee that tastes amazing.
To Improve Health, Start with Your Coffee
According to the latest surveys, 62% of people living in the United States drink coffee every day. (1)
Gourmet coffee might be a nice treat, but do you think homemade coffee is best? 79% of people agree with you. Meanwhile, only 36% of people choose to get their coffee fix from cafes. (No, the numbers don’t add up because people drink multiple cups of coffee every day.)
If you’re a big coffee drinker, looking to your morning (and afternoon) cup is the best place to start improving your health.
Is Black Coffee Healthy?
Black coffee is the healthiest way to take your coffee.
A serving of plain-old black coffee only has five calories per serving – no sugar, no fat. You get all the powerful antioxidants of coffee without any of the bad stuff.
Your friends may have you believe that black coffee is like pineapple on pizza.
Okay, maybe not quite as contentious but definitely a love-or-hate-it thing.
You can actually train yourself to enjoy black coffee.
- Only purchase high-quality beans. Plain black coffee always tastes better when it’s made from small-batch and locally roasted beans. Choose the mom and pop stuff over Maxwell House.
- Brew it stronger (or weaker). If you don’t like black coffee because it always tastes too watered down, try brewing your coffee stronger – it will taste more like espresso. At the same time, if you don’t really enjoy the taste of coffee at all, you may want to brew it a little weaker to get used to the taste.
- Drink it fresh and piping hot. Black coffee doesn’t taste great after it’s cooled to room temp. Make sure not to leave your burner on either which can make your coffee tasted burned.
- Look for pre-flavored coffee. Some coffee brands make pre-flavored coffee with no sugar and natural flavorings from plants like vanilla.
Ingredients You Should Never Add to Your Coffee
The first step towards creating a healthy coffee is knowing what to avoid.
The ingredients below are absolute no-no's if you want your coffee to improve your health rather than hinder it.
1. Added Sugar
Step away from the sugar cubes and your blood sugar won’t get hurt.
Many people rely on sugar to cut through the bitter taste of coffee but sugar can cause your blood sugar – and energy – levels to spike. Unfortunately, this also leads to a crash.
Over time, excessive sugar consumption can put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, inflammation, and a wide range of other health problems.
If your coffee gets you going in the morning but sends you crashing in a few hours, sugar may be the reason why.
2. Processed Creamers
Processed creamers are bad on so many levels. First of all, they contain – you guessed it – more added sugar.
Not only that, but store-bought processed creamers also hide nasty hydrogenated oils and a ton of unrecognizable ingredients. Yuck.
If you can’t give up your creamer, look for brands that only use organic ingredients, don’t add sugar, and source their cream from grass-fed cows.
3. Artificial Sweeteners
It’s not as simple as just choosing the sugar-free brand-name creamer because these all contain dangerous artificial sweeteners. If you’re adding your own artificial sweeteners like Splenda, now is a good time to stop.
Studies haven’t determined the safety of consuming artificial sweeteners every day. Plus, diet drinks can actually increase your risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes by 36% and 67%, respectively.
4. Premade Drinks in General
You can annoy the Starbucks barista into next Tuesday but you’re still not in 100% control of how your drink is made.
Almost every blended beverage from coffee chains comes from a bagged mix or powder so there’s no real way to control your sugar and fat intake.
Lattes, frappes, chillers – they all tend to be loaded with empty calories from unhealthy fat and simple sugar.
If you spend a lot of time in cafes, you’re better off ordering a black coffee with some room and mixing some cinnamon in at the drink counter.
10 Ways to Make the Healthiest Coffee (That Also Tastes Great)
We know, this post has sounded like quite a bummer so far. We promise you don’t have to give up everything you love about coffee to enjoy more health benefits. Use the tips below to make a cup of healthy coffee that you’ll love.
Try a few out and see what you like best.
1. Pump It Up with Collagen
As an added bonus, collagen powder is completely flavorless so you can easily make it a part of your coffee routine.
2. Choose Plant-Based Milk
Unsweetened coconut milk, cashew milk, and almond milk are all great alternatives to cow’s milk which is packed with natural sources of sugar.
Many people love the creaminess coconut milk provides. Almond milk, on the other hand, sometimes adds a bitter aftertaste.
3. Indulge in Grass-Fed Butter
Nope, this trend isn’t going away – and for good reason. If you add store-bought creamer to your coffee, you’re already getting more fat than you bargained for so why not go the healthy route instead?
Including some tasty fat from grass-fed butter can help avoid spiking your blood sugar and provide something a little more satisfying than black coffee.
4. Don’t Forget the Protein Powder
Who says you can’t use protein powder to sweeten and cream your coffee? You could even blend your cup of coffee into a smoothie for a delicious and stimulating protein shake.
Always choose protein powder made from organic ingredients without added sugars or artificial sweetener.
5. Choose Stevia or Other Natural Sweeteners
Stevia is one of the best natural sweeteners for coffee because it doesn’t have much of a flavor. Unlike table sugar, studies show that stevia may actually lower your insulin and blood sugar levels. (3)
If stevia isn’t your thing and you just have to satisfy that sweet tooth, add a drop of maple syrup or honey which both contain nutrients and antioxidants. White sugar gives you nothing but blood sugar spikes and empty calories.
6. MCT Oil Is Your Weight Loss Friend
If you’re on keto, you already know about the awesome power of MCT oil so skip on down. If you’re not doing the low-carb thing, you can still take advantage of MCT oil.
Studies show that these medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) can improve weight loss efforts in several ways, fuel brain cells, protect against chronic brain illnesses, provides an instant energy source, and so much more. (4,5,6)
7. Medicinal Mushroom Powders Provide Extra Benefits
If you haven’t embraced the power of medicinal mushrooms you’re missing out.
Increasing research shows that mushroom extract powders can improve cognitive function, defend against age-related diseases, boost workouts, and much more.
It’s easy to add mushroom powder to your coffee with a splash of coconut milk. Enjoy!
8. Flavor with Cocoa Powder
Once you get ahold of nearly fat-free and unsweetened cocoa powder, you’ll never let go. At about five calories per serving and the same rich mocha flavor you love, you can’t go wrong. (7)
Cocoa powder has numerous health benefits, too. From easing symptoms of anxiety and defending against Alzheimer’s to fighting diabetes and reducing your risk of heart disease, cocoa is the superfood we never deserved. (7, 8)
9. Choose Organic Coffee Beans
You want antioxidants and caffeine.
You don’t want pesticides.
Unfortunately, conventional coffee is one of the most heavily treated crops with pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, insecticides – you name it.
Plus, organic coffee just tastes better. No one orders the flavor “roasted herbicide” at Starbucks, right?
10. Turn It into a Meal
Why not blend your coffee into a smoothie to make it a meal? Brew your coffee the night before and let it chill, make your own cold brew, or freeze coffee into cubes.
Toss your coffee into the blender with some protein powder, unsweetened coconut milk, MCT oil, and a spoonful of cocoa powder for a delectable and surprisingly hearty breakfast.
The Bottom Line
Coffee, on its own, is arguably one of the healthiest foods Americans consume. A vast majority of Americans don’t get to eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables but at least 62% are getting important antioxidants with coffee!
At the same time, how you prepare your coffee is truly what matters.
What will it be? A cup of healthy coffee packed with good fats and nutrients to keep you going or a sugar bomb topped with whipped cream that sends you crashing?
-spread the spores-