Coffee is often depicted as an unhealthy drink but this can be true of anything if not consumed correctly. You may be surprised to know that coffee has many medicinal benefits and the latest research suggests that it may be protective against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular disease.
In Ayurveda, coffee can be a health promoting drink but it is not suitable for everyone and there are certain rules to follow to enhance the benefits and reduce the aggravating effects.
From the Ayurvedic perspective coffee can be aggravating to Vata Dosha. This can be felt as palpitations, shakiness, light headedness, digestive disturbance, insomnia and many other symptoms. For many Vata dominant people or Vata aggravated people it may be best to simply avoid coffee but for those that do enjoy the occasional coffee here are five Ayurvedic tips for consuming coffee…
- Add some spice: When I was studying Ayurveda my teacher introduced me to cardamom coffee. The simple addition of crushed cardamom seeds has an amazing effect on balancing the taste of the coffee and reducing the aggravation of Vata. You can add other spices too, as they do in many countries, specifically from Malta to India (e.g.cinnamon, fennel & cloves).
- Add hot milk: Milk is heavy and dense and has a calming or grounding effect on Vata Dosha. It is sweet tasting which reduces the bitter taste of the coffee. Milk is also mildly sedating as it contains melatonin and tryptophan. Make sure you heat the milk to assist with digestion and assimilation)
- Time it right:According to Ayurveda different Doshas are more dominant at different times of the day and year. During the day choose Kapha time (6-10am) as you can get the stimulating benefits of coffee with the grounding effects of Kapha. During Pitta time (10-2pm) it is easy to get over stimulated and during Vata time (2-6pm) the aggravating effects of coffee are worse. Seasonally, early Winter (November – December) and Spring (March-April) are the safest seasons as Kapha is dominant, however be careful during Summer (May-June), Rainy Season (July -August) and Autumn (September-October) as Pitta can easily be overheated. During late Winter (Jan-Feb) Vata is aggravated in the environment so use extra caution as coffee increases Vata.
- Don’t overdo it: Coffee is Rajasic by nature and may cause hyperactivity both physically and mentally. It is also heating and stimulating and therefore you should not exceed 1-2 coffees per day.
- Quality over quantity: Choose the best quality coffee you can get! Choose organic, freshly ground & hand roasted. Avoid instant coffee as one should not consume the bean but the essence of the bean so drip brew/filter or espresso coffee is best.
To see how coffee may effect you, take our Dosha quiz.
About the author – Doug Hyde
Doug is an Ayurvedic practitioner, therapist & teacher and the co-owner of Satmya. He was first introduced to Ayurveda in 1998 and has pursued his passion for this ancient science ever since. Read more here