There’s nothing quite like starting your day with a delicious, steaming cup of coffee; it's comforting, energizing, and also has an impressive array of health benefits.
However, some people just don’t like the taste of plain black coffee and prefer to change up the flavor with cream or sugar. But the sad truth is, cream and sugar are not making your cup of coffee any healthier. They’re also just plain boring.
So, we’re here to help you spice up your morning routine with some alternatives that will make your coffee tastier AND healthier.
Here are 9 unorthodox ideas for what to add to coffee—beyond cream and sugar. Because you’re much more interesting than that, right?
Let’s start with something nearly everyone has in their pantry right now: salt. While adding salt to coffee might sound just plain wrong, it’s actually a simple hack that will cut the bitterness of coffee and add a pleasant “salted caramely-ness” to your favorite cup of Joe. (Heck, adding a pinch of salt is a main step in Alton Brown’s coffee brewing manual. As if you needed any more convincing.)
Just add a few granules of salt (ideally coarse sea salt) to your coffee grinds before using your preferred brewing method. (We recommend trying with espresso for ultimate creamy goodness.)
You can also use salt in a pinch (heh) if you’re on a family vacation and only have access to the bitter tar that is your mother-in-law’s favorite coffee.
Fresh rosemary is another mind-blowing addition to a fresh cup of coffee. In addition to providing a delicious piney flavor, this herb also infuses coffee with extra antioxidants and concentration- and mood-boosting properties. Exactly what the doctor ordered in the wee hours of Monday morning, am I right?
Take a 3-inch sprig of fresh rosemary, slide your hand down the stem to shuck off the leaves, add the leaves to your coffee grounds, and proceed with your brewing process. We love a French Press for this one! Sip and savor this herbal elixir and resulting brain buzz.
3. Orange Peel
This recipe was inspired by the delightful culinary mix of dark chocolate and orange (Terry’s Chocolate Oranges from Britain, to be exact). Combining citrus and coffee may seem like a mortal sin, but in places like Italy, espresso is often served with a lemon or orange peel on the side. Adding orange brightens the coffee’s flavor, counteracts the bitterness, and adds a pleasant citrus scent.
Orange peels also have even higher levels of Vitamin C than the flesh, so this is a great recipe to try when your immune system needs a boost.
Grab an organic orange and zest the peel until you have about a teaspoon of orange zest, then add the zest to the coffee grounds and brew as usual (French Press or Aeropress works well here). Indulge in the citrusy-chocolatey goodness.
Cardamom is a spice commonly used in the Middle East, most notably in sweet and savory recipes like garam masala, chai tea, and Turkish coffee.
When added to coffee, it creates a spicy/sweet combination that warms you straight to your soul. It’s almost as good as Grandma’s cookies… almost. Cardamom is also a powerhouse spice that touts potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. What’s not to love?
Simply add a few pinches of ground cardamom to your brewed cup of coffee. Or if you’re really feelin’ fancy, you can add the whole pods to your whole coffee beans before grinding. Whoa.
Ginger is one of those spices you either love or hate, but if gingerbread cookies are your jam, then you’ll like this one.
Ginger is in the same family of spices as cardamom and lends a similar warming property to your morning cuppa. Ginger is widely known as a digestive aid and is soothing to the GI tract. If you’re someone that struggles with tummy troubles and coffee, you might want to try this method. (You also might be drinking crummy coffee… just sayin’.)
Before brewing, add 1 tsp ground ginger or a few slices of fresh ginger root to your coffee grounds. For fresh ginger, opt for a French Press method. Voila! liquid gingerbread.
Everyone and their sister is on the turmeric train right now. But we’re not hatin’. Turmeric is a spice that touts an incredible array of health benefits, and we even use it in our joint and recovery formula, Kion Flex, because of its ability to support recovery and joint health. It’s the real deal.
Alright, we’ll be honest. Turmeric doesn’t taste that good in coffee. Sorry. But it does add some awesome health benefits. Try throwing in a ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric to your coffee grounds before brewing. If you’re not one to "suck it up in the name of health," add a good coconut milk creamer to your brewed coffee, and then sprinkle in some ground turmeric for a golden milk-esque experience.
7. Peppermint Oil
You’re suddenly in the Christmas spirit. You’re humming Jingle Bells and dreaming of a cozy, crackling fire. But then you realize it’s June. What’s one to do? The answer is obvious: Add some Christmas flair to your coffee! Okay, maybe that’s not so obvious, but still. Peppermint oil not only adds an interesting winter-esque feel to coffee, it can also aid digestion, and the aroma is known to reduce stress and promote mental clarity and alertness.
Proceed with caution, people. Peppermint oil is potent stuff. Just add a single, measly drop to your coffee grinds and brew as usual. If you don’t want to overdo it on the minty-ness, opt for a brewing method that uses a paper filter. And make sure you’re using food grade peppermint essential oil that’s safe for ingestion.
Cayenne is another interesting coffee addition, but it’s clearly not meant for the faint-hearted coffee lover. Capsaicin, the main component in cayenne peppers that gives them a spicy kick, is known to increase circulation, suppress appetite, and may even boost metabolism. If you’re looking to improve body composition and lose fat, adding cayenne to your morning cup of coffee can give you the kick-in-the-caboose you’re looking for.
To harness cayenne’s fiery flavor, drop in a tiny pinch of ground cayenne pepper to your grounds before brewing. Unless you’re one of those Flamin’ Hot Cheeto lovin’ weirdos, less is more here. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
9. Vanilla-Flavored Ice Cubes
Not a fan of hot coffee? Live in a hot or humid climate? Simply a consumer of delicious, refreshing beverages? This one’s for you. Many people have had their fair share of vanilla coffee drinks, but how about coffee with vanilla-flavored ice cubes? Now that’s a novel idea. Pure vanilla, aside from tasting and smelling divine, touts health benefits ranging from improving anxiety and depression, lowering cholesterol, and even reducing fevers.
To make the ice cubes, combine 6 ounces of almond or coconut milk, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, and (optional) 2 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup. Add the mixture to an ice cube tray, and let it sit in the freezer overnight. The next morning, brew your coffee as usual, let it cool, and then add ice cubes. Ahhh… Pure vanilla-induced bliss.
It’s official: With all of these options, you have no reason to ever drink a boring cup of coffee again.
Want a mental pick-me-up? Try adding rosemary or peppermint oil.
Feeling the sniffles come on? Add some orange zest.
Need some digestive support? Throw in a dash of ginger or cardamom.
Don’t care about taste and just want those health gains? Turmeric or cayenne is where it’s at.
Just want your coffee to be delicious? Sprinkle in some salt or make iced coffee with vanilla ice cubes.
However you choose to spice up your morning routine, a good cup of coffee always starts with the beans. Unfortunately, most commercially-sourced coffee beans are sprayed with pesticides, often contain mold, are over-roasted, and simply don’t taste that good. Not exactly a health-promoting drink.
Kion Coffee is here to change the coffee game. Our beans are 100% Certified Organic; independent lab tested for mold, mycotoxins, and other contaminants; and roasted to maximize antioxidant levels. It’s truly crafted for health, AND it tastes amazing.