What is the Ayurvedic view on coffee? And what kind of Ayurvedic properties does coffee have? Coffee is kind of controversial in health circles. Some sources say coffee is bad for you; others say coffee has many benefits. As always the Ayurvedic answer is more nuanced: whether coffee is good for you very much depends on a number of factors. (You didn’t think I would write an anti-coffee blog post, did you? ;-) )
Ayurvedic properties of coffee
First of all the Ayurvedic properties of coffee. All foods have certain effects on the body and mind. In Ayurveda every food is described according to its taste, energy, aftertaste and special effects. And every one of the properties of a food is described in relation to the effect on your Ayurvedic mind-body type (dosha). That’s very simply explained how Ayurvedic nutrition works.
So what’s the deal with coffee and Ayurveda?
- Taste: pungent and bitter
- Energy: hot
- Post-digestive taste: pungent
- No special effects
- Dosha: VP+ K-
TIP: Does this sounds like Chinese to you? Read my intro on what is ayurveda and take the dosha test to know which Ayurvedic type you are!
The coffee gene
Recent research has found that there actually is a coffee gene.
If you have a greater expression of this gene it is more difficult for you to digest coffee. You will experience more negative symptoms after drinking it, so as a result you will drink less coffee. If you have a lesser expression of the gene you will digest coffee more easily and probably drink more of it.
Here’s a little self test. Which situation applies to you most?
Anxious and shaky
You get anxious and jittery easily after drinking coffee (excess Vata). If you have coffee in the afternoon you have difficulty falling asleep and sleeping through the night (excess Vata). You may get heart palpitations or high blood pressure after drinking it (excess Pita). It may cause diarrhea and/or heartburn when you drink it (excess Pita). You metabolise coffee slowly.
A good kick
You can have coffee with food. Coffee without food will likely give you the above symptoms; but if you have it with food you’re good! A cup of coffee will likely give you the exact kick that you need in the morning or afternoon. You digest coffee normally.
You drink coffee like water. Coffee never makes you feel shaky and you can drink all the coffee you want. You can drink it at night and still fall asleep easily. It promotes your digestion in a good way. You digest coffee easily.
Your Ayurvedic type and coffee
According to the Ayurvedic properties of coffee, it is Vata and Pitta increasing, and Kapha reducing. This means that if your Dosha is Vata or Pitta dominant, you will likely like coffee very much (or its effects), but drinking it might bring your Doshas out of balance.
Coffee effects on Vata
Coffee increases Vata. Excess Vata dosha will cause or increase symptoms like restlessness, anxiety, insomnia and constipation.
(You may think coffee helps you with your bowel movement, but it’s the opposite. It’s the same as with long term use of laxatives: after a while of daily usage of a laxative, your natural bowel movement disappears and it only works with the laxative/coffee, making you completely dependent on it. Just so you know ;-) )
Pitta and coffee
Coffee increases Pitta Dosha. Excess Pitta will cause or increase symptoms like heartburn and hyperacidity (stomach pains), ulcers, inflammation, high blood pressure, heart palpitations and diarrhoea. If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms, it may be best to stay away from coffee for a few days.
Read more: 11 signs of aggravated Pitta
Coffee and Kapha Dosha
If you are Kapha dominant, coffee can be good for you! (in moderation, of course). Yay Kaphas! Coffee is a stimulant and it is drying. It will reduce lethargy, depression and low blood pressure; symptoms that kapha is sensitive to. Coffee will give you more energy and it may also help your digestion work better.
The right way to drink coffee
Coffee and spices
To make coffee more easily digestible for you as Vata or Pitta you can add spices like cinnamon, cardamom or ginger.
Coffee and milk
Adding cow’s milk (full fat, always organic, without additives) or a plant based milk is also a good idea. Bring on the latte or cappuccino!
Ayurvedic bulletproof coffee
And you can go for a bulletproof coffee and add ghee (clarified butter). Clarified butter is more easily digestible than regular butter because it doesn’t contain any lactose or casein. If you are vegan you can also make your coffee bulletproof with organic extra virgin coconut oil.
Ayurvedic coffee recipes
For better digestion of your morning coffee, try one of these Ayurvedic coffee recipes!
Bulletproof cardamom coffee
Take a cardamom pod and crush it with the flat side of a knife so it opens.
Put the whole pod in a cup. (If you don’t have pods you can sprinkle 1/8 tsp cardamom powder in your cup.)
Pour coffee in your cup.
Add half a teaspoon of coconut oil or ghee and stir.
Another of my favourites:
Warm some coconut milk and whip it so it becomes frothy.
Pour coffee in your cup.
Add the coconut milk froth.
Sprinkle some cinnamon on top or stir your coffee with a cinnamon stick. A tradition here in Portugal (albeit a disappearing one).
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