overdo it with more robust spices like turmeric, cayenne, star anise, and clove

Photo by Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash

I like my coffee black, plain and simple. Don’t get me wrong, I like all coffee and espresso, including milk-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, but my morning go-to is a black cup of brewed coffee. For the longest time, I was an overall supplement skeptic. I was confident in my balanced diet and didn’t think that I was missing anything nutritionally. In the fall of 2019, this changed.

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It began with my gastroenterologist pointing out that I probably wasn’t getting enough fibre. As I started my fibre-related research, I learned that many people, whether they had a balanced diet or not, are deficient in nutrients. I also quickly concluded that fibre alone might not improve my gut health. I learned that even the type of fibre matter.

The more complicated my supplementing and healthy eating became, the less I wanted to do it. I started looking for shortcuts, and the best shortcut I found was adding ingredients to my coffee. It may not be a plain and simple morning pick-me-up anymore, but it’s better than cleaning a blender multiple times a day.

First, I highly recommend getting a handheld frother. The easiest way to mix any powder into your coffee is by putting the powder into your mug with enough coffee to cover the powder and then using a handheld frother to blend it. This method also avoids the hot liquids in blenders accidents you may remember from when bulletproof coffee first became trendy. And it won’t make your drink cold like other mixing methods. I have better luck blending powders into hot liquids, but if you want a cold beverage, just use enough hot water to blend.

Collagen

When I first started taking collagen, I did it inconsistently. I never went beyond reading the container’s directions, which advised to just mix one scoop of the powder into your favourite beverage. It was easy enough, and I often blended it into smoothies or stirred it into oats.

Then I saw a segment on my mom’s favourite talk show and had an “oh” moment. The nutritionist on the show drank the collagen before her workout and took it with a high amount of vitamin C. I had always been taking it after working out and didn’t realize vitamin C was necessary to make it work. I wasn’t concerned about supplementing vitamin C, but I did wonder how I was going to get the collagen into my body before working out since I don’t eat then. I started mixing it into my coffee, which I’ve been doing daily for months now. With most brands, you can’t even tell the collagen is there.

Here’s an article on the benefits of collagen.

MCT Oil

I first heard about MCT oil from a vegetarian co-worker who complained about how they didn’t get enough fat in their diet and had to start drinking oil. I was gobsmacked, “You don’t get enough fat?” I didn’t know this was possible. Shortly after, keto blew up, and the bulletproof coffee trend was all the rage. Enter the question of late-2017, “You put butter in your coffee?” These two questions rattled my long-held beliefs about healthy and unhealthy fat. By 2019, I was happily throwing a tablespoon of MCT oil into my coffee. I was overworked, overtired, and had read an article that touted the energy-boosting benefits (amidst other perks) of taking MCT oil. No more afternoon crash? I’ll try that.

In 2020, I discovered that I could get MCT oil in my collagen. No more oil floating on top of my coffee? It sounded too good to be true. I became curious. The MCTs must come in a powder form to be able to go into the collagen. This product entered my daily routine:

Not only was there no oil residue, but it was more cost-effective to buy the collagen and MCT powder separately. And the powder had the same amount of MCTs as the oil and 3g of fibre. An added benefit, the flavoured powders tend to overpower the unusual flavour that some collagens will give your coffee, making your coffee into a treat again and not a supplement concoction you just have to get into your body.

The easiest way to mix any kind of powder into your coffee is by putting the powder into your mug with enough coffee to cover the powder, and then using a handheld frother to blend it.

Adaptogens

I haven’t personally tried adaptogens in coffee yet, but it’s on my list.

Adaptogens are a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress, improve immune health, fight fatigue, enhance concentration, and balance hormones. The first time I heard about adaptogens was in a sponsored message for Four Sigmatic, a mushroom coffee mix. Some of their mushroom coffee mixes boast about adaptogenic qualities or adaptogen ingredients. You may not know it (I know I didn’t), but there’s a good chance you’ve already tried adaptogens. Turmeric, maca, shiitake mushrooms, reishi mushrooms, and matcha are all considered adaptogens.

You can purchase powdered adaptogens to add to the coffee you already brew at home. Coffee can serve to mask the strong taste some adaptogens have, a win-win in any situation where you want your coffee to taste exactly like what it is, coffee! The most common adaptogens to add to coffee that I’ve seen are maca powder, chicory root, and ashwagandha powder.

Cocoa

Cocoa is bitter, and even as a black coffee drinker and dark chocolate eater, I have to add a teaspoon of sweetener (don’t hate me, but I usually use white sugar) to my coffee. I put a tablespoon of cocoa in it. But, the benefits are worth it. Here is an article touting cocoa powder’s nutritional benefits, including improving brain function, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, and improving overall mood. Plus, cocoa powder is high in fibre, with a tablespoon containing between 2 and 3 grams. If you don’t feel up to using straight cocoa powder, you could always melt a square of dark chocolate into your coffee instead.

Spices

I feel like my go-to spice is a common one. I almost always add cinnamon to my coffee. But I think many spicy candidates are left behind when you’re brewing your morning cup. Have you ever considered adding cayenne pepper, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, lavender, star anise, or clove to your coffee? All of these spices on their own, some even in small quantities, promote significant health benefits. For example, many spices are high in antioxidants, act as digestive aids, and may have antibacterial/antifungal properties.

Are you looking for an easy way to get various beneficial spices into your coffee at once without having to open multiple containers? Pick up a pumpkin spice or gingerbread spice mix (I always make sure mine is sugar-free). You won’t be disappointed by the flavour boost these mixes will also bring to your coffee.

Here are a few of my favourite combinations:

  • Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and turmeric (or use a pumpkin spice or gingerbread spice blend and add turmeric)
  • Cinnamon, clove, cocoa (I sweeten this one with white or brown sugar or add non-dairy milk)
  • Cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne (I add non-dairy milk to this)

If you use a pour-over coffee maker or french press, you can add the spices to the ground coffee. Spices are also great to add to ground coffee when you’re making cold brew. Otherwise, you can mix them into your cup, which you could also use a frother to reduce grittiness (I tend not to drink the last sip of coffee). Remember, a small portion of spices can go a long way. You can easily overdo it with more robust spices like turmeric, cayenne, star anise, and clove.

What are you going to add to your morning coffee (or tea!) tomorrow?

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