Coffee is my homeboy. Without it, I don’t think I could piece together a coherent sentence or put on mascara without stabbing my own eye out any time before noon.
And if you’re anything like me (statistics show about 50% of you are), you have a rough time gettin’ started in the morning without your cuppa joe, too.
The good news is, research on coffee pretty much proves it’s the best thing ever. In addition to turning zombies into functioning human beings, the modern form of black gold helps boost metabolism, improve athletic performance and prevent chronic illnesses – including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
But that’s not an excuse to head to Starbucks and load up on the latest quadruple shot frappuccino topped with extra whipped cream and caramel. In fact, that’s pretty much the best way to undo coffee’s positive benefits. As amazing as coffee’s caffeine and antioxidants are, you can still drown out the good with added sugars and trans fats.
A lot of people love adding butter to coffee, but there are other ways you can hack your coffee routine and amp up your health. If coffee by itself is good, consider this your blueprint for coffee 2.0.
Hack Your Coffee With a Light Roast
If you’ve never thought twice about the roast of your beans, now’s the time to start. Studies have shown the more you roast, the more they’re toast. In other words, dark roasted coffee beans end up with lower levels of antioxidants than lighter roasts (and may end up with less caffeine content, too).
According to Dr. Peter Martin, the director of the Vanderbilt University Institute for Coffee Studies (because apparently that’s a thing), the compounds responsible for coffee’s health benefits are chlorogenic acids. With a bit of roasting, the antioxidant power of these compounds improves, but there’s a tipping point whereby they break down again. By choosing a lighter roast, you can ensure a higher antioxidant intake.
Grind Up Some Spice to Hack Your Coffee
Hopefully you’re already skipping sugar In your coffee, but if drinking black joe is killing your morning mojo, give your cup a kick by adding some extra spice. The trick here is to grind the spices with your coffee beans, so when you brew your coffee, the flavors are infused into your java. Try any of the following:
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a health powerhouse packed with antioxidants that helps regulate blood glucose and can even help keep you feeling full longer.
Cardamom: Relatively unknown in the U.S., cardamom is a popular coffee and tea additive in India and other Asian and Middle Eastern countries. It offers a unique spicy-sweet flavor (if you’ve ever had chai tea, you’ll recognize it) that’s perfect for perking up your coffee.
A few spicy cardamom pods go a long way, as they’re packed with the mineral manganese, and have been scientifically proven to improve blood circulation. One study even indicated the spice could help reduce the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer, which pretty much sold me on the spice. I’ve already had two basal cell carcinomas, so if cardamom can reduce my risk of getting more, I’ll take it!
Turmeric (or curcumin extract) and black pepper: If you’re dealing with chronic inflammation, this one-two punch of turmeric and black pepper might be just what you need in your morning coffee.
Turmeric, by itself, is considered a powerful antioxidant that may help reduce the incidence of cancer. Its most powerful compound is curcumin – an anti-inflammatory agent that appears to help with everything from arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease to reduced risk of heart disease and depression.
That said, turmeric itself only has about three-percent curcumin, so to really harness the anti-inflammatory benefits of the compound, you may want to use a curcumin supplement or extract when making your coffee. While you’re at it, go ahead and throw a couple black peppercorns in with your brew. Black pepper helps improve absorption of curcumin in the body by up to 2000%.
Cayenne Pepper: The caffeine in coffee is already a metabolism-booster, but cayenne pepper could be that extra somthin’-somthin’ to take your calorie burn to the next level.
Cayenne pepper boasts the compound capsaicin, which has been proven to boost calorie burn in the two hours following consumption. Plus, it works as a natural appetite suppressant, which could keep cravings under control. Try adding a mixture of cayenne pepper and cinnamon to your coffee for a red hot-like flavor and spice.
Ginger: Ginger, like turmeric, is packed with anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants, which can help reduce muscle-related soreness when used on a regular basis. Also, ginger is known for its ability to reduce nausea and other gastro-intestinal problems, including chronic indigestion.
Whatever you decide to do, you’re bound to enjoy the new flavor and the amped up benefits of your coffee.