8 Healthy Coffee Recipes That Are Better Than Starbucks

There’s no question about it. Coffee is good for you.

Those who don’t like black coffee, of course, commonly add milk, cream and sugar – even if that also means adding calories, fat or carbs to their brew. 

There are healthier alternatives to milk and sugar, though. And we’re not just talking about avoiding calories or carbs; many coffee additives contribute additional health benefits to an already healthy beverage. 

Believe it or not, there are even ways to create delicious coffee drinks that are almost identical to the ones Starbucks baristas serve up – made with ingredients that are much better for you.

Let’s dig into coffee, health, and healthy coffee recipes.

The Health Benefits of Coffee

Being able to stay awake and alert might not count as a “health benefit” – unless, of course, the coffee drinker is behind the wheel. Staying alive while driving could certainly be called a health benefit.

Caffeine’s ability to provide energy, focus and wakefulness is one obvious “benefit” of drinking coffee. Here are the proven health benefits of caffeine and coffee that aren’t as obvious.

Important Source of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that prevent free radicals from damaging cells and causing disease.

Coffee is not only loaded with antioxidants; it’s the largest dietary source of the compounds for most adults, containing even more of them than foods like berries, spinach and artichokes.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Coffee has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and that’s a very big deal.

Anti-inflammatories don’t just reduce the pain of inflammation. They appear to be beneficial for patients suffering from inflammatory and autoimmune diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and lupus.

Also important: reducing inflammation in the body may lower coffee drinkers’ risk of developing heart disease and some types of cancer.

Type 2 Diabetes

Lower levels of inflammation in the body help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes – but coffee does even more on that front.

Diabetes risk has been shown to be even lower for people who drink high amounts of coffee each day. One study found that each additional daily cup of coffee lowered the risk of diabetes by 7%, and was likely to lower blood sugar levels as well.

Brain Function

The stimulant effect provided by caffeine does more than wake you up. Research has found that it also boosts mental performance, brain function, and alertness.

There’s even more good news. Studies show that coffee protects against degenerative neurological conditions and diseases that cause deterioration in the brain, like Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and dementia.

Even More Benefits

Coffee contains numerous vitamins and minerals that the body needs for proper function. It also helps people stay hydrated and may be linked to weight loss.

And perhaps most importantly, there have been studies claiming that coffee drinkers are likely to live longer thanks to the caffeine they consume.

What Can You Put Into Coffee that’s Healthy?

Lots of things.

Many people add protein powder (or protein coffee creamers, like Super Creamer) to their morning coffee. That may help them build muscle, improve athletic performance and stamina, and even lose weight.

Keto dieters often add MCT oil (or coconut oil) and healthy fats to create so-called bulletproof coffee. MCTs help the body produce ketones for energy and may provide a brain boost. Healthy fats are important replacements for carbohydrates in the diet.

Those who take their coffee light may add in plant-based milk like almond milk or oat milk instead of a dairy product. Non-dairy milks are lower in carbs and provide additional vitamins or fiber, and they’re a great replacement for milk in hot, iced or cold brew coffee.

Collagen peptides are usually added to coffee to provide extra protein, but that protein powder can provide added benefits for skin and hair while supporting joint health.

Herbs and spices commonly used in the practice of Ayurvedic or other alternative medicines, like cardamom, ashwagandha powder and cayenne, can be added to coffee. They contribute extra nutrients along with potential benefits ranging from stress relief and mental focus to digestive assistance, and possibly even cancer prevention.

And adding cinnamon to coffee can elevate the brew’s antioxidant benefits while spicing it up at the same time.

Some people simply add “a splash of this or a dash of that” to boost the health and wellness benefits of their coffee. Others go all out, using healthy coffee recipes that combine beneficial ingredients with ones that taste delicious.

Here are the recipes we really like. Most are gluten-free and vegan.

Best Healthy Coffee Recipes

Some of these recipes will provide substantial, additional health benefits. Others will add fantastic flavors – or even replicate your favorite coffee shop drink – using only natural and healthy ingredients.

Either way, you may never settle for an “ordinary” cup of coffee again.

For best results, be sure to use high-quality coffee beans and natural (or organic) ingredients.

1. Almond and Vanilla Coffee

We’ll start with one that couldn’t be simpler.

  1. Brew a 24-ounce pot of coffee.
  2. Add ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon of almond extract. Serve hot or over ice.

Vanilla provides additional antioxidant effects and can ease stress; almond extract contains protein, vitamins and minerals.

2. Cashew Coffee (courtesy of pinchofyum.com)

Cashews are full of healthy fats. This frothy coffee is dairy-free and delicious.

Blend together:

  • 1½ cup freshly brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • One tablespoon honey
  • Pinch of coarse sea salt

If you let this coffee chill to make iced cashew coffee, the ingredients will separate. Giving the drink a good shake will recombine them perfectly.

3. Hot Ginger Coffee (courtesy of tasteofhome.com)

Ginger can help fight colds and flu. It helps with digestion and can ease stomach distress, it may lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and it may even help prevent some types of cancer. It’s also tasty.

  1. Add one tablespoon of chopped crystallized ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and one tablespoon of grated orange zest to six tablespoons of ground coffee (not instant coffee).
  2. Brew with cold water as usual. Add garnishes if desired.

4. High-Protein Maple Coffee (courtesy of sweetrusticbakes.com)

This isn’t an ideal recipe for keto dieters, but it provides a protein boost without using supplements like protein powder. Maple syrup substitutes for sugar or other sweeteners.

  1. Combine one tablespoon of creamy peanut butter and one tablespoon of pure maple syrup.
  2. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds, stirring to ensure the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add the mixture to eight ounces of freshly-brewed coffee and blend for 30-45 seconds, until the coffee is creamy and light-colored.

5. Dairy-Free Mocha Vanilla Latte (courtesy of joyfoodsunshine.com)

We’ve waited long enough to get to those coffee drink recipes that have made Starbucks a $90 billion company – and have changed many Americans’ lives.

  1. Blend one cup canned coconut milk for 30 seconds, to ensure the proper consistency.
  2. Then add and blend for 3 minutes:
  • One cup brewed coffee
  • One tablespoon cocoa powder
  • One tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Adding a shot of espresso will make this latte recipe extra potent for a morning pick-me-up. Iced coffee fans can turn this into a delicious iced mocha latte by chilling the coffee and milk overnight before preparation. Vegans can substitute maple syrup for honey.

6. Iced Vegan Cinnamon Caramel Macchiato (courtesy of paleohacks.com)

Making a delicious macchiato at home isn’t as difficult as you might think.

  1. Brew ¼ cup strong coffee or espresso.
  2. Make caramel sauce by blending ½ cup canned coconut cream, one tablespoon coconut sugar, one teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
  3. Place ½ cup ice cubes in the bottom of a glass. Add one cup unsweetened almond milk.
  4. Pour the coffee over the milk, then drizzle the sauce on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.

7. Low-Calorie Almond Milk Frappuccino (courtesy of justapinch.com)

Believe it or not, this yummy coffee drink only contains 15 calories. It does require a little advance work, though, since you have to start by making coffee ice cubes. That adds a few hours to the total time it takes to make this frappuccino, but it’s worth it.

  1. Prepare two cups of strong coffee, cool, pour into ice cube trays, and freeze.
  2. Combine and blend:
  • 10 coffee ice cubes
  • ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • One package Stevia
  • 2 ounces of sugar-free vanilla syrup
  • You can even top this with homemade whipped cream if you don’t mind adding another 15 calories or so.

8. Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte (courtesy coffeeaffection.com)

You knew we weren’t going to forget this all-time coffee shop favorite.

  1. Prepare two ounces of strong brewed coffee or espresso.
  2. Combine in a small pot and heat for two minutes, while stirring:
  • 3 ounces unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • One teaspoon honey
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Froth one ounce unsweetened almond milk.
  2. Pour the coffee or espresso into a cup, pour the milk/pumpkin mixture over it, and top with the frothed milk.
  3. Garnish with cinnamon, nutmeg and/or pumpkin pie spice.

Written by Ben Knox

8 Min read

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