Coffee – The Good Stuff

Coffee vs. Cocoa

Ok, now I love my coffee, wasn’t always the case back in 2002 I drank tea my dear. But one of my 1st jobs as a coach was opening a city club at 4:30am in the morning, the smell of brewing coffee soon lured me over the road as they opened up first thing in the morning as I searched for a pick me up come 8 o’clock, even though at 1st I despised the taste of coffee it performed its job admirably!

Since then, like many of you, coffee has been a part of the morning ritual.

I love to start my day with a black coffee with cinnamon, coconut oil or cream, don’t get me wrong I also like a salted caramel latte from Starbucks from time to time too but that’s a treat right?!

Little did I know then that its benefits stretch a lot further than just a morning buzz!

Here’s just few of Coffee’s other benefits:

• High anti-oxidant content. More than tea!

• Lowers blood pressure!! Wait back up…LOWERS blood pressure?? Yes at first you will get a rise in blood pressure, but it will return to normal once the caffeine is metabolised. It lowers blood pressure over time as caffeine has been shown to improve the health of blood vessels.

• Fat burning. Increases metabolic rate.

• Performance enhancer. Caffeine directly impacts the muscles to enhance power output. Not only that, reaction time, verbal memory, and visuo-spatial reasoning are enhanced also.

• Lowers risk of disease. A host of studies show decreased risk of diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, cardio vascular disease and lowered risk of various cancers such as pharyngeal, breast, liver, colon, and prostate cancer.

Pretty impressive right? So you can feel good about having your coffee in the morning.

However for the past 3 weeks ive decided to knock my morning cuppa Joe on the head!

But with all those health benefits I hear you asking why?

Well I just felt like it, I felt like I needed the break from relying on that buzz from the caffeine you get in the morning and not to have to rely on caffeine as a wake up, giving the opportunity to really focus on recovery as well to prove to myself im not a slave to a drink, I do not need it to function!

Plus taking the caffeine out now for a period of time will increase its effectiveness when it is later reintroduced.

So what have a substituted it with…

My magical morning elixir.

Start the day like an Aztec.

In replacement of my coffee, every morning ive been making myself my modified Aztec beverage.

Quite simply hot cacao.

Here are just a few reasons why I chose to swap my coffee for cacao and why I just might not go back!!

1. ANTIOXIDENT DENSITY – Cocoa’s concentration of antioxidants are three times stronger than that of green tea alone and four to five times stronger than that of black tea. However unlike the Aztecs I like it hot! Having it hot as in “hot chocolate” was created by the Spanish when they nicked it off the Aztecs, having it hot is also increases its antioxidant release.

2. BLOOD PUMPING – improves blood flow and helps lower your blood pressure and improve heart health.

3. PURITY – cocoa is a single ingredient, it contains much less fat and sugar per serving compared to the 8-10 grams of fat in a standard chocolate bar. Although a regular chocolate bar is relatively antioxidant dense, a chocolate bar is a multi ingredient food, the health benefits are outweighed due of the combination of fats and sugars also present.

4. BRAIN HEALTH – associated with number 2 – the flavanoids in cacao increase nitric oxide production like coffee, aiding in blood flow and increase oxygen to the brain!

5. SUPER COMPOUND COMBINATION – Combines well with other super healthy compounds like;

– Cinnamon – a nutrient partitionining compound that improves insulin sensitivity actively aiding the body’s ability to store nutrients like carbs in muscle instead of fat.

– Honey – a better choice than sugar, although metabolically it will act pretty much the same so in terms of fat loss treat honey the same as any other sugars, however it contains some nutritional value and antioxidants, anti inflammatory and disinfectant properties.

– Chilli powder – obviously adds a spicy kick but chilli powder is famed for its health benefits as an anti inflammatory, pain reliever and immune booster amongst a host of others.

How to make it!

How I make it – warning! Its gotta a kick, its a little bitter but surprisingly moorish and if you like to experiment I urge you to try this little concoction too.

The simple quick morning kick version – 1-2 heaped teaspoons of pure cacao powder, ½ teaspoon honey to sweeten, pinch of chilli powder that’s it, makes 1 cup! Chocolaty spicy, slightly bitter, slightly strange but trust me after a few your hooked!

Per cup:

Protein = 1g
Carbs = 6g with honey – 0.4 – 1g without
Fats = 2g

The Sunday afternoon feet up version:

Needed – 1 cup of milk! 1-3 heaped teaspoons cacao, 2-3 squares 85% dark chocolate squares, 1-2 teaspoons honey, pinch of chilli powder or ½ chilli pepper deseeded too and let infuse, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.


1. In a small saucepan melt chocolate with a little of the milk. Whisk in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

2. Remove from heat and let flavours infuse for 10 minutes then strain.

3. Cheeky optional extra that my grandma loves!! Add a little shot of brandy to your mug and top the spicy modified Aztec delicacy!

4. Enjoy in front of roaring fire.

Tip: If you want to keep it as low carb as possible exchange milk for almond or hazelnut milk. You can also swap for coconut milk which will also lower the sugar content but it will up the fat content which is definitely not a bad thing seeing as there largely saturated and mct’s, but just so you know.

The alternatives:

A date with the Aztecs – 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk, 3/4 cup water, 3 soft pitted Medjool dates, 1 tablespoon cacao powder, Dash of cinnamon.

Put all ingredients in the blender and puree until very smooth, gently heat in a pot on the stove.

Hot snickers – 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 heaped teaspoon cacao, 10-15g chocolate whey protein, pinch of cinnamon, ½ can coconut milk, ½ cup water.

Blend up and gently heat in a pan, strain for smooth / leave for crunchy.

Maybe this just serves as a reminder that there are way more things for us to try right under our nose. Hiding in plain sight around the markets and health store and even the supermarkets just waiting to be discovered are herbs and spices and ingredients that mean living healthy is in no way living boring. Go mix it up, grab a few ingredients and try and improve my version of the Aztec hot chocolate!!

Dan Thorpe