I’m all about the coffee! And the coffee-joy starts for me before I even taste the rich goodness. The moment I touch that warm mug or hold that paper cup as I walk down the street feels so satisfying. Visiting local coffee shops is a favorite date for me and my husband and a must-do on any vacation. In fact, just this weekend we visited an amazing local coffee shop in the new town we moved to recently (and split a beverage – see tip number 7 below 😉.) So I’m here to let you know, I’m with you in that coffee-loving attitude. I hear you. I also understand you want to make your coffee healthier. And I’m about to give you 7 ways to do just that.
Don’t worry, you can still enjoy your coffee fix without loads of sugar, artificial sweeteners, or fake creamers. Today is about giving you some options to clean up your coffee. So, if you want some ways to make your coffee healthier and still find it satisfying…this one is for you, my coffee-loving kindred spirit.
Ways to Make Your Coffee Healthier
1. Skip the sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Skip the sweetener altogether.
Obviously, no sweetener at all may be the obvious health choice typically recommended. Along that note, a few of the suggestions below may actually help you enjoy unsweetened coffee. However, if unsweetened coffee isn’t for you, read on.
Choose Honey or Maple Syrup and Limit Your Amount.
Change from sugar or artificial sweetener to a less-refined choice such as honey or maple syrup. (Remember honey is twice as sweet as sugar so half as much will give you the same level of sweetness.) Overtime, you can work to gradually cut back on the amount of sweetener you use and allow your taste to adjust.
At home my favorite way to sweeten coffee is with a small splash of maple syrup along with a little half and half. That’s it, and it’s delicious! I can drink coffee black, but it’s not my preference so I just limit the amount of sweetener that I do use.
This is my usual Starbucks or coffee shop order: Medium roast (Pike Place at Starbucks, Hazelnut brew at Panera) brewed coffee with room for cream. Starbucks keeps pure honey packets in their condiment stations and I simply add a honey packet (instead of sugar) and half & half. For coffee shops without honey I will add a packet of raw sugar which is very easy to find.
Sweeten with Dates!
Another idea that may take more time and effort is you can sweeten your coffee with dates. I’ve done this with making homemade frappuccinos in the blender. Or here is a recipe that looks great for date coffee creamer made with dates and coconut milk!
2. Simplify your latte.
Next week I have a post coming on different drink orders recommended by Dietitians at Starbucks. You will see a popular trend in that post is ordering a simple latte, plain – no syrup. Coffee and milk make a perfect morning or afternoon beverage and may even help satisfy you a little longer, since the milk has the benefit of protein and fat (unless you get nonfat – not my personal preference.) However, leave off the syrup and you are leaving a ton of sugar behind! You can mix in your own honey or even raw sugar packet – or request the barista to do this for you. This will give you a delicious latte, lightly sweetened. Enjoy!
3. Try a new variety of black coffee.
Mix it up with some fun new coffee flavors or roasts. Places like Whole Foods and Fresh Market always have delicious roasts both flavored and unflavored. Even target has some delicious roasts, including a large selection of organic coffees that I enjoy. I love to buy different ones and try them at home. This keeps it interesting without needing to use the flavored creamers for new varieties.
4. Order a specialty drink with less pumps of syrup.
If you love the specialty drinks, order less syrup! Many people choose to cut their pumps in half, ordering it “half sweet,” but you can definitely choose to cut it down even more, especially if you are enjoying a larger size. Chances are you may not even notice a difference, but even if you do I feel certain your tastes will adjust quickly. Typical beverages at Starbucks, for example, have 2 syrup pumps for Short, 3 for Tall, 4 for Grand, 5 for Venti. However, you can do this at any local coffee shop as well by asking how many pumps they typically do or simply order half the pumps. Trust me, I love to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha during the holiday season, and I’ve found I love them even more with only 1 pump of syrup.
5. Add a dash of flavor: cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin spice.
A dash of cinnamon can go on many coffee drinks: Lattes, cappuccinos, regular brew, whatever you love. It helps add flavor without sugar! Most coffee shops have cinnamon you can sprinkle on top of your drink, but you can also brew your coffee at home with cinnamon, nutmeg or pumpkin spice sprinkled on top of the grounds before brewing.
Very rarely, but occasionally, I will sprinkle in a small bit of cocoa powder along with honey or maple syrup. It’s my way of making a mocha out of brewed coffee that not only keeps me from crashing later, but also saves me several dollars.
6. Skip the flavored creamers and choose half and half, milk of choice, or coconut cream.
I know, the flavors seem super fun. Who doesn’t love the sound of…caramel turtle creamer or coffee that turns into a cinnabun?! However, most of them are full of a long list of ingredients including refined sugar and really aren’t “cream” at all. I personally use half & half in my coffee as I feel the fat helps to tone down the bitterness of the coffee. Coconut cream is another option to tone down your coffee. You’ll just want to make sure you get it mixed in good and it takes a little more effort than half and half.
7. Limit your portions.
If you are enjoying a drink that is sweetened; simply be mindful of your amount. If you are drinking coffee at home or the office you could simply stick with 1 cup that is minimally sweetened, and if you have additional coffee drink it black. Or, drink it black most days adding sweetener for a special treat. Figure out what balance looks like and feels right for you.
At the coffee shop you can stick with a smaller beverage size! For example, Starbucks offers a “short” size which is 8 ounces but not listed on their menu. If you plan to order your favorite seasonal drink, choosing the short instead of the grande cuts the amount in half.
My husband and I have only ever ordered separate coffees on a handful of occasions. (We probably had a B1G1 coupon 😂.) First of all, we are just too cheap (and, honestly, this is probably why we started doing it 11+ years ago in the first place.) But second, it helps us enjoy a special beverage in an amount that feels more right to us while still satisfying! You can also always split with a friend by asking for an extra cup and end up saving some money as well.
Make Your Coffee Healthier
Just like any change – taking the time and effort to make your coffee healthier doesn’t happen overnight. Just making one small change can be a great way to start. So pick your first small step. Will you try honey in your coffee tomorrow? Or perhaps you will simply start by cutting back on the amount of sugar you use (a definite win!) Whatever you choose, giving yourself a coffee win will help to keep you motivated and make the next step of improvement.