Since my high school days, where I would rock up late to first period, waltz in with coffee in hand (my teachers must have seriously rolled their eyes at this!) I have had a love affair with coffee. Working as a barista in trendy cafes where drinking copious cups of coffee is the norm, fuelled my habitual coffee drinking and I didn’t give it a second thought.
When I started getting into healthy eating in a big way I embarked on a number of different fasts, cleanses and detoxes – all through which I didn’t drink any coffee. But as soon as the experiment was over, I’d be back to ordering my double shot of caffeine.
There was even a period of 2 YEARS where I didn’t have caffeine at all (or any other warm beverages!) I realized through these experiments that I could actually go without coffee, no headaches, no withdrawals unlike the rhetoric I was hearing from friends and family who said they simply “couldn’t function” or “be productive”without their coffee.
I noticed the effects of coffee more after having a break from it but not adversely. I enjoyed the taste, the ritual, the social aspect, the focus; and it made me wonder why some people seemed to be “addicted” to this ancient bean, and why others could “take it or leave it” whereas other people felt anxious and jittery from it.
Again, Ayurveda has the answers!! Just like all other foods, coffee can be one body’s medicine and another’s poison. So lets get to understand how coffee affects us all differently and what little rituals can make or break your relationship to coffee.
Firstly, quality is key. Organic and fair trade is super important when it comes to coffee. For the ahimsa factor, non-harming to the environment and all those involved with the production. Plus, the fact that GMO beans (non-organic) are indigestible - causing havoc in the gut.
Then we have the quantity key. 1 cup a day is all that is recommended for all three doshas and more details are below but we also need to consider the size of that single cup. Many take-away and reusable cups are actually much bigger than a standard cup so keep it around 250mls, especially if you’re taking milk and sweetness.
Is afternoon coffee ok?
According to Ayurveda, the times of day re associated with the 3 doshas, and working in harmony with these will help maintain balance. Have your coffee between 6-10am, during the kalpha hours to avoid it taking on those excess Vata or Pitta qualities. Pitta time starts (10am-2pm) so coffee in these hours (or any stimulant) can cause excessive and unsustainable energy. Vata flows through the afternoon (2pm-sunset) so coffee in these hours can add to feelings of overwhelm, scattered-ness and forgetfulness.
Coffee & your dosha
* If you do not know your current dosha, hit the quiz here to discover your mind-body constitution
For the person with high Vata…drinking coffee can increase feelings of anxiety, scattered-ness and overwhelm and will result in poor quality sleep (super important for Vata!) so having a break from coffee until you feel stead will help slow the tornado.
For the person with high Pitta…will experience a short-lived satisfaction and stimulation, but will cause impatience, hypercritical thinking and anger. Can show up as skin rashes or irritations as well so keep an eye on this.
For the person with high Kalpha…coffee can help! It will stimulate a heavy, or lethargic mind and body. Since coffee is hot, dry and activating it can help to balance the cool, wet, dense qualities of kalpha.
If you know your dosha in pretty balanced, drinking coffee in moderation (1 cup a day) is neither good nor bad. As life happens our doshas flux and flow according to our external and internal environments so be present to how you feel on a day-to-day basis.
For a balanced Vata person…if you are not experiencing symptoms like dehydration, constipation or dry skin then you are good to go! Enjoy it with a milk of your choice (alternate between nut milks, oat milk or dairy milk) and maybe add a natural sweetener like coconut sugar or honey. This will make your coffee super grounding and nourishing. A max of 3-4 coffees a week (1/ per day) and on your coffee-free days enjoy another warm beverage like chai or macha with milks like above.
For a balanced Pitta person…If you are feeling as cool and calm as a cucumber, try having your morning coffee black and sweet (natural sweetener of course like maple syrup, honey or agave) this will help to keep pitta at bay all day. No more than 1 cup a day, tread carefully and continue to pay real attention to addictive tendencies.
For a balanced Kalpha person…you want to have your coffee black and with no sweetener. Adding milks and sugars can lead to water retention, weight gain and mental fog so enjoy it Italianio style and reap the benefits of positive motivation coffee can give you.
Make your morning beverage a ritual
Be sure to drink a decent amount of warm water before your cup of joe. Give your kidneys and adrenals a chance to hydrate and flush out excess hormones. For Vata and Pitta doshas, eat a nourishing breakfast before your coffee (fruit, protein or grains)
Then, sit down (no drinking on the go) notice the aroma and feeling in your hands. Express your gratitude and enjoy!
Let me know in the comments below what your coffee relationship is like!
To learn more ways to integrate Ayurveda into your daily life, work with me 1 on 1.