As a Paleo nutritionist, I am frequently asked if coffee is Paleo. My answer is almost exclusively yes, although there are times when coffee itself can detract from a person’s overall wellness, and thus should be avoided. This is particularly true in cases of food sensitivity to coffee, caffeine, or acidic foods, or in times when someone is trying to recover from autoimmune disorders, adrenal fatigue, or other like health issues where coffee and caffeine can truly hinder the body’s ability to recover.
That being said, if you’re one of the millions of people who don’t have any of those issues, then coffee can definitely occupy a place in your Paleo diet. I personally love a good, strong cup of black coffee, with no frills, but there are plenty of you who don’t like it plain and want to know, how can I jazz my coffee up and still keep it Paleo? Here are 10 great ways to add some flavor and awesomeness to your cup of joe, all without compromising any of the Paleo, real food values
1. I like it creamy: Coconut milk or coconut cream are both excellent coffee creamers because they’re so rich in and of themselves. Swirl them in with your black coffee, and you won’t even miss plain creamer. If you like sweetened creamers, you can add in some coconut sugar or maple syrup with your coconut cream/milk, and you’ll have a healthy alternative to milk-based creamers and refined sugars. Almond milk also works as a coffee creamer, although it’s naturally not as creamy as coconut products, although some prefer the nutty taste of almond milk to the more distinctive coconut flavor.
2. I like it sweet(er): Maybe you don’t need the cream, but you definitely need the sugar! You’re in luck, because numerous Paleo sweetener options work super well in coffee. Coconut sugar, raw honey, maple syrup, and date sugar all make perfect 1-for-1 substitutes for your usual refined sugar. If you tend to prefer the sweet n’ low thing, try using liquid stevia (which comes plain or in multiple flavor options) to make your coffee a little easier to sip.
3. I like it nutty: Maybe you’re a fan of hazelnut coffee, or any of the other nutty flavors, but don’t want artificial flavors to get there. Try this: brew your coffee like normal, and then with a hand whipper, a bullet, or a blender, zap in a few teaspoons of your nut butter of choice plus a little coconut oil to make it nice and smooth. Almond butter, hazelnut butter, and even pecan butter all work well to give your coffee that roasted nutty deliciousness that you crave.
4: I like it pumpkiny: Ahh, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Well, you can totally Paleoize this by adding in some real pumpkin (pureed—about 1 tablespoon per 12 oz of coffee), some maple syrup (1-2 teaspoons), and some coconut milk (about 1 tablespoon, maybe 2 if you like it creamier), with just a pinch of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Blend it together and get your fall flavors on, regardless of the time of year. Top it with some Paleo whipped cream and some nutmeg to rival any Starbucks around the world.
5: I like it frothy: Warm 1/2 cup of coconut milk, 2 teaspoons of ghee, and 3 teaspoons of honey. With a whisk or a whipper, blend together until they’re frothy. Add your black coffee, whip some more, and enjoy this frothy coffee beverage that will fool anyone into believing it can’t be Paleo. Alternatively, you can use almond milk or any other nut milk with similar results!
6: I like it bulletproof: While it may be somewhat controversial as to whether bulletproof coffee is Paleo or even good for you, there are plenty of people who love to get their morning cup of joe with a hefty dose of fat. You can Paleoize this, for even the purest of Paleoites, but using ghee and coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of each, melted and mixed into a single cup of coffee. Add a bit of coconut cream if you want to add more fat and more creamy goodness.
7: I like it as a cappuccino: Prior to my Paleo days, I was a sucker for a good large cup of French vanilla cappuccino. Yep, it was loaded with caffeine, sugar, and tons of artificial flavors, but those were the days when I didn’t know and didn’t care. In the near-decade since I’ve been Paleo, I’ve always missed my cappuccino days, so last year I set about replicating the taste in a 100% Paleo form. While this falls far more under the “dessert” category, if you too crave cappuccino, you’re in luck, because it takes less than 5 minutes to whip this thing up. All you have to do is combine 12 oz of strong, dark brewed coffee with 1 tablespoon of ghee, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of coconut cream, 2 teaspoons of raw honey, 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar, and 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Like I said, this is not a “health” food, since it packs quite a sugary punch, but it works for a special treat on occasion! I even served it to a non-Paleo person who said it was the best coffee beverage they’d ever had.
8: I like it spiced: You don’t have to complicate things to make your coffee tasty. Try adding a teaspoon of cinnamon to black coffee, or nutmeg, ginger, or even a pumpkin pie spice blend. If you just need a little flavor, this will certainly do the trick. Of course you can also add any of the Paleo sweeteners plus coconut milk/cream, almond milk, or other nut milk, if you really want a sweet n’ spicy start to your morning!
9: I like it as a dessert: Much like the cappuccino recipe above, any cup of coffee can easily be converted into a delicious after-dinner dessert drink by playing around with coconut cream, Paleo sweeteners, and any possible flavor combinations you could desire. I personally love a good mocha, which can be made like this: 12 oz of brewed coffee, 1 tablespoon of coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of coconut cream, 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of raw honey, and anywhere from 2 teaspoons to a tablespoon of raw cacao. Some like it to taste more milk chocolatey, while others will prefer more of a dark chocolate taste, so this is one of those where you need to taste it as you make it to get the right balance. You can also add some vanilla extract, some stevia, or some cinnamon to take it up a notch. If you prefer a caramel beverage instead of chocolate, you can combine brewed coffee with 2 tablespoons of coconut cream, a tablespoon of ghee, and then maple syrup and coconut sugar to taste. For some, it might only be a teaspoon of each, but you may need more if you want a truly strong caramel flavor.
10: I like it cold: If your favorite thing in the world is iced coffee, you can still enjoy the same luxury while keeping it Paleo. Brew your coffee like normal and then place it in the freezer for about five to ten minutes while you prep the other stuff. If you like black iced coffee, all you need to do is wait until the brewed coffee cools down. If you want iced lattes, then you can essentially take any of the above recipes, prepare them cold, and blend them with your coffee when it has cooled down. Keep in mind that coconut milk and almond milk will work best in iced coffee beverages, because coconut cream needs the heat of the coffee to blend in well. Alternatively, you can make any of the above beverages and then quick chill the whole thing in the freezer until it’s cold, and whip one more time before serving. These are delicious when topped with our coconut whipped cream!
P.S. Not a coffee person? Any of the above combinations can be prepared with black tea for some equally as delicious results!