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How do you drink coffee on the paleo diet?

What is the paleo diet?

The paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, is a way of eating that mimics the diets of our hunter-gatherer ancestors from the Paleolithic era. It focuses on foods that can be hunted and fished, such as meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Processed foods, sugar, dairy, legumes and grains are avoided since they were not part of ancient diets.

Coffee is a controversial food on the paleo diet. While it’s not technically a paleo food, many people on the diet still enjoy drinking coffee in moderation. Here’s a closer look at coffee and the paleo diet.

Is coffee allowed on the paleo diet?

Coffee beans themselves are seeds of the coffee plant and would not have been consumed by Paleolithic humans. However, many people choose to include coffee in moderation while following a paleo diet for these reasons:

  • Coffee has some health benefits when consumed in moderation, including antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds.
  • It may boost energy levels and enhance cognitive function.
  • Many followers find it difficult to eliminate all caffeinated beverages.
  • Decaf coffee is still an option on the paleo diet if you can’t tolerate caffeine well.

So while coffee itself would not be considered a paleo food, having a cup of black coffee without any additives is generally thought of as acceptable by most paleo dieters. The key is keeping it minimal and avoiding additional ingredients that are not paleo-friendly.

Tips for drinking paleo coffee

Here are some tips for enjoying coffee on the paleo diet:

Choose high-quality coffee

Opt for organic, single-origin coffee beans if possible. Lower quality coffee is sometimes mixed with fillers or artificial flavors. Higher quality beans will give you better flavor without extra additives.

Brew it black

Brew your coffee black without adding cream, milk or sweeteners. Full-fat dairy products are restricted on the paleo diet. Nut milks like coconut or almond milk are palo-friendly alternatives but have additional calories.

Skip the sugar

Don’t add sugar, honey or artificial sweeteners. Sugar is not part of a paleo diet. Small amounts of raw honey could be used but should be minimized. Avoid artificial sweeteners, which are highly processed.

Limit your intake

Coffee has some noted benefits, but should still be consumed in moderation on a paleo diet. Limit yourself to 1-2 cups per day maximum to prevent adverse effects from too much caffeine or acidity.

Try herbal teas too

In addition to coffee, herbal teas are a great paleo-approved way to get an energy boost or satisfy a craving for something warm to drink. Try teas like chamomile, peppermint, earl grey or green tea.

Use paleo creamers sparingly

Although black coffee is recommended, there are some paleo-friendly creamer options if you just can’t drink it black. Full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream add richness without dairy. Nut milks like almond or cashew can also be used sparingly.

Healthier paleo coffee creamer recipes

If you choose to add a creamer to your coffee, here are some paleo-approved recipe options:

Coconut milk creamer

  • 1 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Pour into a jar and refrigerate up to 1 week. Shake before adding to coffee.

Vanilla nut milk creamer

  • 1 cup raw cashews or almonds, soaked overnight
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Drain the nuts after soaking. Blend all ingredients together on high until very smooth and creamy. Strain through a cheesecloth or nut bag. Store chilled up to 4 days.

Whipped coconut creamer

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Open the can without shaking and scoop out the solid coconut cream into a bowl. Using a hand mixer, whip the cream until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and cinnamon. dollop into coffee drinks.

Paleo-friendly coffee alternatives

If you find you can’t tolerate coffee well on the paleo diet, there are some alternatives to get your caffeine fix:

  • Green tea: An excellent source of antioxidants like EGCG. Opt for organic loose leaf varieties.
  • Black tea: Contains less caffeine than coffee. Choose organic black breakfast blends.
  • Matcha green tea: Provides steady caffeine delivery. Mix the powder with hot water.
  • Yerba mate: A coffee alternative made from a South American plant. Try loose leaf or tea bags.
  • Guayusa tea: Contains caffeine made from the leaves of an Amazonian holly plant.
  • Kombucha: A fizzy probiotic tea that offers a small amount of caffeine.
  • Decaf coffee: Look for high-quality beans that use chemical-free methods.

Potential drawbacks of coffee on a paleo diet

While reasonable coffee intake is allowed on paleo, there are some potential downsides to be aware of:

  • Acidity: Excess acidity from coffee can cause digestive issues for some people.
  • Nutrient inhibitors: Compounds in coffee may impair mineral absorption like iron and zinc.
  • Dependency: Frequently drinking caffeine can lead to withdrawal headaches if stopped suddenly.
  • Dehydration: Coffee’s mild diuretic effect can contribute to dehydration.
  • Sleep issues: Drinking coffee late in the day can disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Unknown mold toxins: Coffee beans may contain mold like ochratoxin A.

Staying within 1-2 cups of black coffee per day can help minimize any issues. Those with chronic illnesses should be especially cautious with coffee intake.

Tips for transitioning to paleo coffee

Switching to black paleo coffee can be a big change if you’re used to adding cream and sugar. Here are some ways to make the transition easier:

  • Gradually cut back on added sweeteners and creamers over time.
  • Cold brew your coffee for a naturally sweeter, smoother flavor.
  • Try adding a dash of cinnamon for extra flavor.
  • Use paleo-friendly creamers like coconut milk minimally.
  • Drink your coffee alongside a paleo-friendly breakfast.
  • Always opt for high-quality, organic coffee beans.
  • Consider herbal teas like peppermint or green tea on some days.

Sample paleo coffee drink recipes

Once you get used to black coffee, try out these fun paleo-approved coffee drinks:

Iced paleo mocha

  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • Ice cubes

Combine hot coffee, cocoa powder and coconut cream in a blender until smooth. Sweeten with maple syrup if desired. Pour into a glass filled with ice and enjoy.

Coconut latte

  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1⁄4 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon

Heat the coconut milk mixed with vanilla extract and cinnamon in a small saucepan or microwave until hot. Pour into hot coffee and mix well. Top with extra cinnamon.

Paleo cappuccino

  • 1 shot espresso
  • 3⁄4 cup hot water
  • 2 Tbsp frothed coconut milk

Brew a shot of espresso and pour hot water over it. Spoon frothed coconut milk gently on top. Dust with cinnamon.

Is decaf coffee paleo-approved?

Decaffeinated coffee can be part of a paleo diet, but there are some important considerations:

  • Check the decaffeination method. Opt for Swiss Water Process instead of chemical solvents.
  • Choose high-quality beans to avoid poor taste.
  • Drink in moderation. Even decaf has some caffeine.
  • Avoid flavored and artificially sweetened varieties.
  • Watch out for acid reflux, digestion issues or restlessness.

Overall, decaf coffee is seen as more paleo-friendly than regular since it removes most of the caffeine. But it’s still best minimized to avoid drawbacks.


While coffee itself wouldn’t technically have been consumed by Paleolithic humans, it can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a modern paleo diet. Stick to high-quality, organic beans and avoid adding sugars, dairy or artificial sweeteners. Limit intake to 1-2 cups per day due to caffeine and acidity concerns. Paleo coffee alternatives like herbal tea can help switch it up as well. With some adjustments, coffee can be part of a healthy paleo lifestyle.