By Beth Lipton
The debate about whether or not coffee is good for you is just about over (whew!), but even something as rich, robust and amazing as coffee has room for improvement.
Purists may be all about black coffee, but for us mortals who like to lighten it up, historically the choices for what to add were limited to dairy, thin nut milk or “nondairy creamers” with less-than-delicious ingredients like corn-syrup solids, vegetable oil, and unpronounceable additives.
Luckily, some smart companies have started to catch on that healthy people who drink coffee might be looking for alternatives. Read on for a few that actually amp up the health benefits of coffee.
Pro surfer Laird Hamilton is riding the healthier-coffee wave (sorry) with his Laird Superfood Creamer, a dairy-free, vegan, soy-free creamer. It’s made from coconut milk powder, Aquamin (a seaweed-derived mineral-rich supplement), and coconut and red-palm oils. It comes bagged in powder form, so you spoon out what you want. Though the package calls for 2 teaspoons per cup of coffee, we found we needed more like twice that for a creamy cup, so it was good that it wasn’t premeasured. Also, the creamer has coconut sugar in it, so it may not be your, um, cup of tea if you prefer your beverage unsweetened. Laird also sells a liquid creamer, but it requires a blender to mix thoroughly. ($16.95 for a 16-oz. bag, available online.)
If you like a liquid creamer, Califia Farms Better Half Unsweetened is for you. This soy-, dairy- gluten- and carrageenan-free product is made mostly from almond milk and coconut cream. The unsweetened kind still adds a touch of sweetness thanks to the coconut. It takes quite a bit to get your coffee really creamy, but this is a convenient, tasty option in liquid creamers. ($8.99 for 2 16.9-oz. containers, available online.)
Nutpods Dairy-Free Creamer is carrageenan-, dairy-, soy-, gluten- and sugar-free, made from almonds, coconut cream and a tiny bit of stabilizers like acacia and gellan gums and sunflower lecithin. The original unsweetened variety has a creamy, neutral taste and, conveniently, it’s shelf stable until opened. As with the others, it takes a generous amount to lighten coffee, so it’s a good thing that it comes in a 4-pack. Also available in French Vanilla and Hazelnut flavors. ($14.95 for 4 11.2-oz. containers, available online.)
Bulletproof coffee—that luscious concoction from Dave Asprey that blends coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil—has proven itself to be more than a passing trend. But since the brew requires a blender, taking it on the road can be a hassle. Enter Instamix, which has all the additions to the coffee distilled into a powder. Simply sprinkle into a bottle with your coffee and shake to mix. It isn’t as creamy and luscious as the real thing, but it does the trick in a pinch, and it’s 1,000 times better than the sad shelf-stable creamer next to the hotel-room coffee maker. ($29.95 for 14 single-serve packets, available online.)
These convenient little liquid packets from Know Brainer carry MCT oil and organic ghee and a few other ingredients—none of which are sugar or artificial sweeteners. It’s also available in hazelnut, French vanilla and mocha, for those who like a flavored brew, and it comes in casein- and lactose-free versions for the dairy-free set. With all the good fats in there, it makes your cup filling and energizing. For those who like their coffee light, this isn’t very creamy, so you may want to try one of the others. ($18 for a 9-pack of a single flavor or $12 for a 6-packet variety pack, available online.)