Hugh Jackman's Laughing Man Coffee. (Image: DC)
A cup of coffee can be a cherished daily ritual or act as a pick-me-up after a busy day. But a freshly brewed cuppa is more than a beverage now; as a speciality drink, it’s a wellness brew. Small wonder that a number of famous people like Snoop Dogg, Jimmy Butler, Hugh Jackman and The Weeknd have launched coffee companies.
Speciality coffees with added unconventional ingredients are gaining popularity for a variety of reasons, including flavour and health advantages.
Jennifer Aniston, a superstar who can create a health and wellness frenzy, has been promoting speciality coffee as a lifestyle choice. The actress starts her day with a cup of hot coffee mixed with collagen powder, which keeps her complexion glowing and her bones strong, while imbuing her with an overall radiance.
Collagen is a protein that can be found in bones, tissue and cartilage. Should you really combine it with coffee? According to experts, the combination is unlikely to hurt you.
To stay slim, Harry Styles of One Direction drinks coffee with butter (Bulletproof coffee).
"Wellness coffees are gaining a lot of importance because people think that by adding a few ingredients or food supplements believed to have health benefits, the regular coffee can become a healthier brew" says Dr. V Mohan, Chairman and Chief Diabetologist at Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre. "The idea of a caffeine-free coffee is a good one because caffeine does have addictive properties apart from producing gastritis, tachycardia, palpitation etc."
A new trend brewing
The combination of coffee with adaptogens and superfoods marks a paradigm change in age-old morning routines. The focus has shifted from a caffeine shot to improved general wellbeing. Plant-based milk options, and addition of plant materials like spirulina, ashwagandha and moringa are trending, according to Sridevi Jasti, wellness and lifestyle coach and founder, Vibrant Living. "People who are addicted to caffeine might as well add some superfoods to it," she goes on to say.
Bulletproof coffee, a frothy drink with added butter, is a favourite of a slew of Indian celebrities, like Bhumi Pednekar, Sidharth Malhotra, Rakul Preet Singh and Jacqueline Fernandez, who are frequently photographed posing with this daily cuppa. Mushroom coffee, lemon coffee and rose petal beetroot latte are other popular variations.
"Selecting the right option to align with your dietary preferences is important," says N Lakshmi, Senior Dietician, Kamineni Hospitals, adding, "Ingredients like spirulina, ashwagandha, moringa, and medicinal mushrooms offer diverse potential health benefits, besides creating a unique and flavourful coffee experience."
When flavour meets health
Butter Coffee (Bulletproof Coffee):
Butter coffee is prepared by blending hot coffee with unsalted butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows, and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.
The healthy fats from butter and MCT oil, provide long-lasting energy that improves concentration and cognitive performance. These fats also help to reduce appetite, promoting a more restrained diet. MCT oil may improve fat-soluble nutrient absorption, enhancing overall dietary intake. It can help people on a ketogenic diet too," says Lakshmi, though she warns that due to its high calorie content, it is important to consume it in moderation.
Lemon coffee is made by adding freshly squeezed lemon juice or lemon zest to your regular cup of coffee.
"Lemons are high in Vitamin C, which supports the immune system and helps the body produce collagen, which promotes good skin. Additionally, they encourage healthy digestion and revitalises you by stimulating digestive enzymes. Lemons are a useful complement to a well-balanced and health-conscious diet because of their antioxidant content. Lemon coffee is low in calories and can be a delightful and nutritious addition to your daily routine," says Lakshmi.
A cup of wellness
"Caffeine, a natural stimulant found in coffee, boosts cognition and focus. It improves physical performance and has been linked to a lower incidence of depression. It increases the production of neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine. It also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by controlling blood pressure," says Dr Manoj Kutteri, Medical Director and CEO of Atmantan Wellness Centre. But these loaded coffees are not all good. "It’s like wine, which is good for some people because of the presence of resveratrol, but also unhealthy because of the alcohol and sugar content," he notes.
"Although drinking coffee has numerous benefits, it’s vital to be aware of potential disadvantages as well. Excessive coffee consumption or sensitivity to its main constituent, caffeine, can have a variety of negative effects," says Dr. Manoj.
Overconsumption of coffee can result in sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep and interrupted sleep patterns, which can leave you restless and angry.
As a result, blood pressure and heart rate can also increase.
In addition, some people who drink too much coffee feel agitated, uneasy and even anxious.
A person who depends on coffee for energy may experience headaches, tiredness and mood swings, as withdrawal symptoms when consumption is reduced or stopped.
Additionally, consuming too much coffee may affect your digestive system and raise the risk of stomach ache and acid reflux. Coffee tolerance differs from person to person, so it's important to pay attention to your body’s cues and drink it responsibly.
A "good" coffee
N Lakshmi looks at some ingredients which make the regular coffee a health drink:
Spirulina is a nutrient-dense blue-green algae that is high in protein, vitamins and minerals. It promotes general wellness and is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. To add spirulina to your coffee, mix it with a little hot water to make a ‘spirulina shot’, but be careful not to add too much since it has a strong flavour.
This adaptogenic herb may help lower stress and increase energy levels. You can add it to your coffee as a tincture or powdered extract. Start with a tiny amount and adapt to your taste preferences.
The leaves of the Moringa (drumstick tree) are considered a superfood that is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Mix some moringa powder into your coffee. Its earthy, mild flavour pairs well with the bitterness of the coffee.
Varieties like reishi, chaga, lion’s mane, and cordyceps, which have medicinal properties, can be purchased as extract or powder. You may blend them into coffee or soak them to make tea. Start with a modest amount and gradually increase it to the level you’re most happy with.
Pre-packaged wellness coffee blends including these nutrients are readily available on the market.
A word of caution:
Although some nutrients have health advantages, they may not be suitable for everyone. Therefore, it is advisable to speak with a nutritionist before making any major dietary changes, especially if you have specific medical issues or are on medication.