Although I may forget to pop my morning multivitamin, there’s one thing I never start my day without: a trusty cup of joe. Since we’re all about making our morning routines as efficient as possible, we’ve been experimenting with a few ways to combine the two. Studies show that drinking coffee has major health benefits beyond helping us snap out of our morning comas—like reducing our risk of type 2 diabetes. And, since it’s typically the very first thing we put in our bodies each day, so why not discover how to make coffee healthier and sneak in a dose of nutritious benefits while we’re at it?
Scroll on for our favorite ways to brew up a special cup of vitamin coffee—the benefits (and added flavor) are just too good to keep drinking #basic black coffee. From boosting mood and energy to protecting your heart, to enhancing your brain cell functioning, we’re all for adding these eight natural boosts to our daily caffeine routine.
If you want to maximize flavor without adding extra calories, sprinkle a dash of cinnamon into your cup. It can add some seasonal flavor (sans sugar), while delivering a powerful, and delicious, dose of antioxidants. Having been used in natural medicine for thousands of years, cinnamon is loaded with protective compounds (all 41 of them!) and has one of the highest antioxidant activity of any spice. It’s also packed with manganese, iron, and calcium –which help to boost your immune system (winter colds be gone), lower your blood sugar, and even cut your risk of heart disease.
Serve: Stir 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon into your cup of coffee, or brew your coffee with 1 tsp. of cinnamon mixed right into the grounds. You can also brew your coffee with a cinnamon stick so the spice has extra time to infuse.
If you like to sweeten your coffee, you don’t need to depend on sugar and processed creamers. Try a few drops of pure vanilla extract instead. It’s classified as a brain superfood for its ability to boost mental performance, mood, and overall brain health. Vanilla has also been proven to relieve stomach aches and digestive issues, reduce joint pain, and relieve stress.
Serve: Add a few drops of pure extract to your cup or pot of coffee. You can also add a vanilla bean to your coffee grounds so the flavor infuses before you brew.
Coconut milk is the perfect add-on if you’re lactose intolerant, cutting out dairy for dietary purposes (i.e. the Paleo diet), or just want a low-calorie milk substitute. You’ll also get a healthy dose of vitamins C, E, and B, antioxidants, magnesium, and iron—all of which work towards promoting healthy bones, teeth, brain, kidneys, and heart health.
Serve: Add a teaspoon or two of organic, unsweetened coconut to black coffee. If you want it extra sweet, you can add some maple syrup—vanilla extract and cinnamon are great with it, too!
One of the usual suspects at my house, ashwagandha powder is perhaps my favorite way to brew up a morning cup of coffee with an added punch. This stuff is not just another adaptogen trend—this incredibly healthy medicinal herb has been used heavily in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, increase energy levels, and improve concentration.
Serve: Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons into your coffee. You may want to combine this with some cinnamon and coconut oil since it can have a pretty strong flavor. I like to add it to my coffee with almond milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a cap full of vanilla extract. I then blend it all together to achieve the perfect frothy, nutrient-packed cup.
You’ve probably heard of the butter coffee craze by now, and for good reason. Celebs, athletes, models, and health bloggers alike claim adding the buttery, fatty goodness in their coffee gives them more energy, improves brain function (bye, brain fog!), and helps in weight loss, particularly for those on the keto diet.
Serve: Add a small amount of Bulletproof, MCT Oil, or melted butter to your coffee and blend. If you decide to slide a slice into your morning joe, try using grass-fed butter, which has a higher amount of omega-3 and vitamin K than regular butter.
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body and is an essential building block for skin, nails, organs, hair, tendons, ligaments, bones, and cartilage. It’s credited with providing the elasticity, suppleness, and regeneration of our skin but as we age, collagen production decreases, and our skin begins to thin and lose elasticity and moisture leading to fine lines and wrinkles. Studies show adding a dash of this beauty powder to your coffee can help keep your skin looking hydrated and wrinkle-free, give your liver a boost at flushing out your system, reduce inflammation, and support joint health. Win, win, win.
Serve: It comes in powder form, so you can stir a few tablespoons into pretty much anything (coffee, smoothies, yogurt) to get a major protein boost that will help you kick-start your day—and your dewy glow!
Cardamom, like ashwagandha powder, has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. A spice commonly added to coffee in the Middle East, cardamom gives coffee an exotic flavor similar to ginger (they’re in the same family), and is packed with nutrients. A two-tablespoon serving has just 36 calories, is loaded with fiber, essential minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds. Research found cardamom contains compounds with the potential to kill cancer cells and stunt new cancer cell growth. Powerful stuff.
Serve: Sprinkle a pinch or two into a cup of brewed coffee, or add a few whole cardamom seeds to your coffee beans if you grind yours before brewing.
If you really want to spice up your daily caffeine routine, add a dash of cayenne into your morning brew. Trust us, not only will it wake up your taste buds, but it will also give you a nutrient boost early on in your day.
Cayenne has been used to manage stomach problems, lack of appetite, and circulatory issues for thousands of years in Native American medicine. Recent research shows that it may relieve pain from headaches, help digestion, and even prevent heart disease. It’s pretty much a coffee-obsessed, spicy-food lover’s dream.
Serve: Sprinkle a dash or two of cayenne into your coffee and stir. Some like to first blend with milk and sugar, so the pepper is not too overwhelming. Central American and Middle Eastern cultures even like to add melted chocolate! Sweet and spicy for the win.
Note: if you are susceptible to acid reflux or other digestive issues, you may want to avoid this one.
How do you make your coffee healthier? Share your favorite ingredients or coffee alternatives with us below!
This post was originally published on February 19, 2020, and has since been updated.