Since coffee is a staple in my morning routine (I try to indulge in my first cup 90 minutes after waking, following the advice of Andrew Huberman, PhD, professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine), it’s also a great opportunity to add more flavor and nutrients to my morning, which brings me to the best spices to add to coffee. Sprinkling dried spices and even fresh herbs into a cup of joe can infuse it with extra flavor and health benefits, so if you’re looking to spice up your coffee game, these are the best items in your fridge and pantry to reach for.
This one is no surprise, given the ubiquitous dried cinnamon shakers next to the milk carafes at most coffee shops. But it also just makes sense. Cinnamon is warming and toasty; a nice compliment to the sometimes bitter notes of coffee. Plus, cinnamon is a known antioxidant powerhouse able to help fight inflammation.
For the best flavor and optimum nutritional benefits, get out your smallest grater or microplane and add a dusting of fresh nutmeg to your coffee. Like cinnamon, this warm fall flavor adds a dessert-like essence to your drink, but it can also support liver function, fight inflammation, and potentially work as an antimicrobial as well.
If you’re shaking up a cold brew or iced coffee drink, try taking a page from a bartender’s book and crushing some fresh mint into your glass before adding your joe. This vibrant herb adds a sharp, refreshing flavor to rich, complex coffee or espresso. Plus, mint aids digestion, boosts your mood, and supports brain health among its many benefits.
A little goes a long way when it comes to adding vanilla to your coffee, as the extract (a type of bitter, believe it or not) has a strong flavor that can border on alcoholic tasting. But if you add a small splash to your cappuccino or latte, you’ll love the rich, creamy flavor. Just be sure to use pure vanilla, not imitation.
Aside from their anti-inflammatory properties, cloves have a rich, deep, almost licorice-like essence that will give your morning drink a festive flavor. You can add whole cloves to ground beans to infuse the flavor as the coffee brews or add a touch of ground cloves directly to your mug.
Cardamom, another inflammation-fighting spice, has a lovely floral flavor that’s light and sweet. It’s delicious in iced and hot coffee drinks, and you can add whole pods to your beans or a sprinkle of ground spice to flavor your drink.
Dried ground ginger has a much more intense flavor than the fresh stuff you find in the produce aisle, but if you love ginger tea, you need to try a dash of the spice in your coffee. It’s zingy, fresh-tasting, and packs extra anti-inflammatory benefits that’ll help support your immune system.
Lavender lattes seem to have taken over cafe menus, and it makes sense. The floral flavor is a wonderful match to the dark, dense flavors of coffee. You can reproduce the barista-style drink at home by adding dried culinary-grade lavender to your coffee or espresso beans before brewing to benefit from its stress-relieving, brain-boosting, inflammation-fighting effects.
We couldn’t discuss spiced coffee without a nod to the ever-popular PSL. But it’s easy to overlook the fact that it’s a blend of several anti-inflammatory spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sometimes cloves). To get the effect of a cafe-brewed latte at home without the excess sugar, try adding a dash of pumpkin spice blend to your home-brewed joe. Apple pie spice is just as tasty!
A dash of chili powder that’s not overly smoky will add a lovely hit of heat to your coffee if you’re in the mood for something spicy in the morning. Like a dash of hot sauce, adding chili powder to your coffee gives it an extra splash of antioxidants. Add a scoop of cocoa powder for a hot take on a mocha.
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