We adore the Duchess of Sussex, so when Meghan Markle invests in a new consumer product, we are absolutely interested in learning more. So imagine our excitement when we learn that she just invested in Clevr Blends coffee, which touts “the world’s first oat milk wellness latte.” Did we mention that the price is a steep $28 per bag of latte mix? What’s going on here? Our intrepid correspondent Julie Chang Murphy decided to get some answers. She’s interviewed an experienced dietitian to get the scoop on whether the trend of a “super” coffee latte enriched with adaptogens is the new secret superfood for healthy living. You know, like a coffee dusted with Moon Juice. We even have some informed recommendations on the best functional ingredients we can add to our morning coffee to get the day started on a healthy note.
could coffee be the secret key to healthy living?
January always seems to bring out the aspiring ascetic that lives inside each of us. No more carbs, alcohol or shopping. Basically, no more fun.
But one thing is for sure — we are not giving up our morning (and afternoon) brews. The sensory-rich ritual provides an easily accessible micro-luxury. Especially in the sluggish winter months, a strong cup helps us start our day with a dose of much-needed stimulation.[white_box]
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And study after study has shown there are numerous physiological benefits to drinking coffee too. Diane Vizthum, M.S., R.D., research nutritionist for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine states that “coffee contains antioxidants and other active substances that may reduce internal inflammation and protect against disease.”
Similarly, Dr. Robert Shmerling, Senior Faculty Editor for Harvard Health Publishing, has written of the link between coffee drinkers who have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and colon, uterine and liver cancers. Not bad for a humble cup of Joe, right?
So unless you’re drinking 8 cups a day, there is no reason to give up on coffee this year. In fact, coffee can even be better for you this year than it has been in the past.[white_box]
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We’re talking about the emerging trend of adding adaptogens to coffee. We turned to Carol Marie Fiorito, a Certified Holistic Health Coach, to help us make sense of the adaptogen ecosystem. She has been advising her clients how to incorporate functional nutrition in their lives and use food as medicine for almost 20 years. Fiorito is also leading a holistic wellness reset, just in time for the new year.
What is an adaptogen?
Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that produce a non-specific response, normalizing overall physiology and supporting the immune system and brain to do their jobs. “Plants are wise sentient beings; native traditions knew this,” Fiorito said in our interview.
The conversation sparked memories of my own Chinese upbringing, when my mother would brew herbs and roots bought from New York City’s Chinatown. Full disclosure: they tasted awful, but they worked!
Though the leaves, berries and roots of plants have been used in Chinese culture and other indigenous traditions for thousands of years, the Western world did not take the idea seriously until the ’70’s. Fiorito noted that the Russians conducted top secret experiments with adaptogens, searching for and studying ways it could help their Olympians, military and astronauts perform better. Very Cold War James Bond kinda stuff.
She recommends taking them on a daily basis as it takes some time for build-up to happen and for the body to develop a relationship to the herbs. Which is why adaptogen mix-ins with coffee offer such an elegant solution. It’s a great combination and delivery system, since many people are consuming coffee daily already. And because adaptogen-enriched coffee is non-toxic, you can’t really overdose.
Fiorito cautions that it is important to remember that each body is unique, so for maximum results, an herbalist can prescribe the best “stack” for one’s particular condition and constitution.[white_box]
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Which adaptogens should you consider adding to your coffee?
Because the marketing of adaptogens up to this point has been so targeted to a specific goal (better quality sleep or more energy, for example), you might be under the impression that you have to pick one or the other.
Fiorito cleared up that misunderstanding. You can mix them and match them with abandon! Adaptogens can and do work synergistically, and “help your body do what it knows how to do best.”
That explains the powdered formulas like Clevr Blends, a business that Meghan Markle just invested in. And the already-popular brand Moon Juice. Both of these brands offer products combining multiple plant sources.[white_box]
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Fiorito’s longtime favorites? Ginseng for mental clarity and to stabilize mood. Reishi mushrooms, which help regulate hormones and promote relaxation by addressing adrenal fatigue, which is so common in our stressful modern lives. Ashwagandha, which are bitter berries that are “pure examples of an adaptogen” in that they support multiple systems in the body to perform their functions — from the nervous system to the immune system. Lastly, Rhodiola is a root that in addition to encompassing the benefits of all of the above, also helps regulate blood sugar.
I felt chills when she noted that in America, we have a “culture of over-consumption, without intention.” These herbs can help nourish our bodies and also address chronic low grade stress.
Thinking of giving adaptogen-enriched coffee a try?
Here are five notable brands to explore.
1. Four Sigmatic
If the extra step of measuring and dosing is too much at 7am in the morning — we get it! Four Sigmatic, a popular adaptogen-enriched coffee brand found at Whole Foods, takes the guess work out with Ashwagandha Lion’s Mane and other adaptogens already mixed into the single-serve ground coffee packets. BUY NOW: $49 for a 4-blend pack.
The Clevr brand is the one that attracted the interest (and investment) of the Duchess of Sussex. This organic Colombian arabica coffee is blended with oat milk and coconut cream, then powered with adaptogens, mushrooms and probiotics. It includes Ashwagandha, Reishi, and Lion’s Mane mushrooms. All you have to do is add water! Choose from four flavors: Matcha, Chai, Coffee and Golden Turmeric. BUY NOW: $69 for the starter kit.
3. Moon Juice Brain Dust
Moon Juice Brain Dust is a blend of Lion’s Mane, Ginkgo, Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Astragalus and Maca. Take one teaspoon of this and add it to your coffee to aid in alertness and concentration. BUY NOW: $38.
4. Taika Oat Milk Latte
For on-the-go ease, Taika makes a lightly sweet coffee in a can – Taika Oat Milk Latte – with the ideal amount of caffeine and Theanine for focus. Ashwagandha for calm. Lion’s Mane for clarity. Cordyceps for energy. And Reishi for immunity. BUY NOW: $59 for a case of 12.
Rasa is an organic, fair trade coffee. Sourced solely from women-owned and -operated farms, and available in three distinct versions, each one is blended with a signature formula of adaptogens to balance out the nervous system and adrenal impacts of the coffee. The taste is balanced, sweet and chocolatey with an earthy note. BUY NOW: $28 per bag.
The super latte may become the new superfood
That’s what we learned from an expert dietician about why coffee enriched with adaptogens, like Clevr Blends coffee super lattes or Moon Juice, could be the new secret superfood trend for healthy living.
What do you think about all this?
I’m guessing these brands taste a whole lot better than my mother’s brews in our childhood kitchen (no offense, Mom!) As with anything health-related, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before experimenting with new herbs — especially if you’re pregnant or nursing. Stay safe and strong out there, dear reader.
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This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links.
Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, and fitness. Julie lives in New York where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing. And spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.