A liquid diet is certainly not what we intend for ourselves each morning. We love our soaked oats, chia pudding and avocado toast. But, one way or another, we wind up with a desk full of glassware – coconut water, coffee, green juice. Get our team together for a meeting, and there is never a shortage of a perfect dozen glasses, bottles, cups and carafes.
Some of this has to do with our lemon water ritual, some with our green-juice obsession, and, lately, it’s the coconut water that’s to blame. But, for the most part, this “beverage overwhelm” has to do with coffee. We’re choosy about how it’s brewed, what we pair it with and, most importantly, where it’s from, but coffee is always in the mix. Here are a few factors that go into how we choose our brew and how to upgrade your own…
Espresso v. Drip
Strange as it may seem, espresso actually has less caffeine than brewed coffee. Dark roasts have less caffeine than lighter roasts, as well. The longer coffee grounds stay in contact with water, the more caffeine is absorbed. Skip the cup of joe and go straight for an Americano instead!
TCM Picks: If you’re having whole-bean coffee ground, grind for an espresso machine. If ordering a simple cup of coffee, order an ‘Americano’ instead: a shot of espresso in hot water. Just as delicious, and just a little less caffeinated.
Direct Trade Beans
Beyond just fair trade – which is vitally important – we love direct trade beans. Direct trade is the ultimate farm-to-cup experience. Coffee sold straight from individual farms give us, as drinkers, , the satisfaction of knowing that more of our dollars are going back to the farmer, and empowering the coffee farm to grow healthy, high-quality beans.
TCM Picks: Target Direct Trade coffee. It’s not all about big or small, folks. We love when big biz makes small choices for big good, and Target is the leader in the direct trade of coffee space.
Let’s be honest, very few of us drink our coffee straight. That means that half the battle of having healthy coffee really comes down to what you’re putting into it. Skip the syrups, skip the sugar, and sweeten your cup with a less dense, healthy-for-you sweetener. Stevia is your coffee cup’s new BFF. Get the rough, powdered kind (our fave, at least) for the most sugar-like consistency. While real sugar will only exacerbate any of coffee’s jittery effects, stevia actually helps to balance the body’s blood sugar. This is a major health bonus – especially if coffee is a daily habit.
TCM Picks: Stevia In The Raw. We keep easy, one-serve stevia packets in our handbags at all times, because we feel a slight panic if we’re served coffee at a restaurant without these!
For us, this isn’t an everyday habit, but – believe it or not – raw, grass-fed butter is a superfood like no other and coffee’s perfect match. Most people call coffee with grass-fed butter ‘Bulletproof Coffee’ for the brand that repopularized this healthy trend. Vitamin-rich, organic and clean-sourced butter in a cup of joe is one of the biggest energy boosts we’ve ever experienced – without the jittery coffee effect. The rich fats in butter help your body burn caffeine more evenly, in a way that’s actually more healthful for the body. These same fats help the body to absorb coffee’s famous antioxidants too!
TCM Picks: Grass-fed butter can be found at many health food stores and many European brands are grass-fed. If you want to learn more before ladling all that fat into your morning brew, read our piece on it here.
And we’re not talking about non-dairy creamer! Dairy foods seem to be at the center of many health concerns these days. And while we’re not anti-dairy in the least, the quality of milk you should be drinking is hard to come by at a coffee bar. For that reason, we’re big fans of almond, hemp and coconut milk. These nutrition-rich nut and seed milks are more often free from chemical additives and un-real food substances, and full of minerals, vitamins and protein.
TCM Picks: We love Pressed Juicery’s Vanilla or Chocolate Almond Milk and, every so often, we like to make our own!
We often drink our coffee decaf – but not without considering the method in which the decaf coffee was made. It’s just not natural for those little beans to go without their zip and the method by which decaf is created truly matters. If you’re going to drink decaffeinated coffee make sure it’s been Swiss water processed. This process is non-toxic, whereas other decaf beans can actually contain additional heavy metals from their decaf processing.
TCM Picks: You can buy a variety of decaffeinated beans from direct trade or fair trade farms. Most of the time, you just need to ask.
Spice It Up
That silly little cinnamon shaker at the coffee bar is more than just an urban add-on for the latte obsessed. Cinnamon, a superfood spice, actually helps the body to maintain stable blood sugar. That means that, if the coffee gods have tempted you into a seasonally-flavored latte, or if you’re simply looking to counter the effects of caffeine in general, a sprinkle of cinnamon can actually go a long way in contributing to the healthy nature of your cup!
TCM Picks: Virtually any ground cinnamon will do. Keep a little on hand at home and seek it out at your local coffee bar. A little goes a long way and, after a sip or two, you’ll be hooked on the added dose of flavor!
This post is brought to you by Target. With helping hands, Target is committed to building healthy and sustainable communities.