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Ayurvedic Coffee Elixir

· Cook

Do you love coffee? 

A cup of coffee in the morning can make for a great start to the day. I personally grind it every morning and then make a small espresso in my old DeLonghi espresso machine.  

But even though I love coffee, I don't enjoy the negative effects of it. The bitter, acidic, dry, heating and astringent qualities of coffee is not something I want to be left to deal with long after I had my one and only cup. But Ayurveda can help with this.  

Ayurveda teaches us that food can be a medicine or a poison, depending on the type of person ingesting it, the time of day it is taken, among many other factors.

According to Ayurveda, everything around and within us consists of five elements - Space, Air, Fire, Water & Earth. These five elements are the basis of the three Doshas - Vata, Pitta & Kapha. The three Doshas govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfilment. (Learn more about Ayurveda and the Doshas here). 

In short, Vata consists of space & air elements, Pitta of fire & water elements and Kapha of water & earth. (Find out what dosha you are through my Dosha Quiz here).  

We already learned that the main energetic qualities of coffee are heat, dryness, acidity and astringency. With this in mind,  coffee would seem to mainly aggravate and increase two doshas - Vata and Pitta. In fact, if you are experiencing an increase of pitta dosha, characterised by hyperacidity and skin imbalances, to name a few, then I recommend drastically reducing or completely avoiding the use of coffee. Vata predominant individuals should really be wary of coffee and try to avoid it altogether. 

It is true that individuals with Kapha predominant constitution are least likely to experience the negative after-effects of coffee consumption. In fact, the bitter and astringent qualities of coffee will help balance this constitutional type and provide energy and motivation. So if you are someone who is Kapha predominant - go ahead and enjoy your cup of coffee! However, I would still advise to exercise caution and limit consumption to once per day only and not on a daily basis or with regular breaks. 

For the rest of us, there are fortunately some great Ayurvedic solutions, which will counteract the negative effects of coffee, making it not only more digestible but, for some, also medicinal. This recipe is based on these solutions, or antidotes, as described in Ayurveda. 

First of all, I am using cardamom - a great aromatic spice that supports healthy digestion, helps balance acid levels in the stomach and the downward flow of energy in the GI tract. Cardamom helps pacify Vata and pitta doshas and removes excess Kapha from the stomach and lungs. This allows for more of a grounding effect and will negate the anxious feelings that coffee otherwise brings. Cardamom also has a cooling energy, which helps to soothe coffee’s tendency to increase pitta in the body.

Secondly, I am adding healthy fat to my coffee making it more nourishing and lubricating. This practice is also known as "bulletproof". Adding a half teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil and blending it into your coffee will help to counter the dry and acidic effects of coffee, offering a blend that won’t take as big a toll on the nervous system or digestion.

Finally, I am adding fresh ginger to stimulate the digestive fire and to add a pungent quality to the brew. This will also help clear any congestion and boost immunity. Ginger is also one of the main ingredients in Chukku Kappi, a South Indian herbal drink that helps boost immunity and relief symptoms of cold and flu. You can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger if you don't have fresh.

I am using soaked and peeled almonds due to their sattvic qualities, helping induce calmness and strength. If possible, soak the almonds overnight and then for a few minutes in very hot water to pop them right out of their skin.

You can also add tulsi leaves and 1/2 - 1 tsp ashwagandha powder to increase the medicinal properties of this drink - further calming the mind and balancing the nervous system.

I've used maple syrup as a sweetener in this recipe, but you can use any other natural and non-refined sweetener of choice such as jaggery, coconut sugar, agave or honey.

You will need a coffee machine (I used an espresso machine) for this recipe. A cafetière may also be sufficient. Use an organic blend or better still, grind your own organic beans just before making your coffee.

You will need a blender for this recipe and a pestle & mortar to grind your cardamom seeds. Alternatively, you can use already ground seeds but I highly recommend grinding your own for aroma and maximum benefit.

Make the process of making your morning cup of this coffee elixir a true ritual - do not rush. Put on relaxing music, visualise the day ahead and add each ingredient with the love you deserve. 

AYURVEDIC COFFEE ELIXIR

(serves 1)

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 peeled almonds (soaked overnight or 30 min in hot water)
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
  • 1/2 inch fresh root ginger (peeled)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup plant milk (or non homogenised dairy milk)
  • 1 shot of espresso coffee (preferably from freshly grounded coffee beans. I used organic, dark roasted beans)
  • 1/2 cup filtered freshly boiled water
  • 2 tsp maple syrup

METHOD

1. The night before, soak 10 almonds in fresh, filtered water. Drain the water in the morning and soak in hot, boiled water for a few minutes before adding the almonds to the blender. This will allow almonds to easily 'pop' out of their skins. Add to blender.

2. Using pestle & mortar grind your cardamom pods and add to blender.

3. Peel and roughly cut fresh ginger. Add to blender.

4. Add vanilla powder and sea salt to a blender.

5. Warm up your milk - use the stove or milk frother that comes with an espresso machine

6. Make fresh coffee using your preferred method. I do not recommend using instant coffee for this recipe.

7. Add milk and coffee to the blender.

8. Add freshly boiled, filtered water to the blender.

9. Add 2 tsp (or to taste) of maple syrup or another natural sweetener.

10. Blend all ingredients on 'smoothie' setting or for 1 - 1/2 minutes on 'high'.

11. Pour into your favourite cup/mug.

12. Sit back, relax and ENJOY! 

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