Gelatin has made a recent resurgence in popular culture, especially among the health food crowd. While it’s been around for centuries, gelatin was particularly popular in the American diet for much of the 20th century, until it fell out of favor around the 1980s. But it seems to be back and better than ever, rebranded as a superfood and making its way back into our diets, including coffee.
Yes, coffee! Believe it or not, gelatin is a great source of collagen and amino acids, and boasts several other health benefits as well, including anti-aging properties. Adding it to your coffee is an easy way to not only get your daily dose of the good stuff, but it can also help you to feel more satiated so your tummy won’t be rumbling during that morning meeting.
Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are. I thought there was surely no way I would ever be using the words “gelatin” and “coffee” in the same sentence, let alone in the same cup. But here we are. And I’ve got to say, I’m on board!
So first off, what is gelatin anyway? Well, it starts with animal byproducts like skin, bones, cartilage, and tendons, which are then treated and mixed with hot water. This mixture is filtered, purified, concentrated and dried, and sold in either powder or sheet form. Needless to say, it is not vegan or vegetarian-friendly.
If you’re turned off by what gelatin is, think about it this way: many of us today have the privilege to consume the best animal products of our choosing on the market, but this wasn’t always the case. Historically, and for some folks still today, you couldn’t afford to not use every bit of the animal you consumed. Ultimately, using these animal byproducts to make gelatin creates less waste and produces an ingredient that humans can benefit from.
Let’s count the ways that consuming gelatin can improve your health or add to a healthy diet.
- Gelatin is a good source of amino acids, which our bodies don’t produce on their own, so it’s important we get them from food sources.
- Collagen, which gelatin is made from, is great for joint health.
- Studies have shown gelatin could improve blood sugar control.
- Gelatin can help improve collagen production, which can help skin look and feel more firm.
There are two simple ways to add gelatin to your morning coffee. The first involves mixing milk and gelatin in a saucepan and pouring it over your freshly brewed coffee. The other option is even simpler. Add gelatin and milk/cream to an empty mug, stirring to get the lumps out. Then pour your coffee over top and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
While I wish it was as simple as stirring a spoonful of gelatin powder into a cup of coffee, that will only result in lumps. Still, the above methods are very simple and can be completed in the time it takes to brew a pot of coffee.
The best part is, as long as you buy the right version, gelatin has no flavor, so you won’t notice any difference in the taste of your coffee when adding it in. Just be sure you don’t buy any of the flavored versions, which can be tasty in their own right but might not be great in combination with coffee’s strong flavor.
You may notice a change in your coffee’s texture, however. Gelatin naturally acts as a thickener, so this is no surprise, but when using a small amount, it actually can make your coffee a bit smoother and silkier. I definitely don’t consider that to be a bad thing!
If you’re an iced coffee fan, I’ve got good news for you. Coffee jelly is a unique and tasty way to add gelatin to your coffee, while also making it feel like a bit of a treat. Coffee jelly is actually more of a Jell-O than a jelly, but nonetheless, is a combination of gelatin and coffee that is typically enjoyed as a dessert. Coffee jelly has been popular in America and the United Kingdom but has really taken hold in Japan, where it is still common today.
But these bouncy cubes of caffeine can also be added to a nice glass of iced coffee for a fun twist on your morning brew. All it takes is gelatin, coffee, water, and sugar, and you’re ready to whip some up. Once heated up together, the mixture then has to set and once it does, you get the satisfaction of slicing your gelatin slabs into cubes. Enjoy them on their own, with a whipped topping, or in your iced coffee. There are no wrong answers here; the more creative, the better!
Gelatin is hard to recreate, but depending on how you intend to use it, there are a variety of options you can use instead. Whether you’re opposed to using gelatin for dietary or ethical reasons, or if you’ve just happened to run out, these substitutions may have a similar effect on your beverage or dish, but may or may not have the same nutritional benefits:
- Agar agar – an effective vegan alternative
- Vegan gel – an effective vegan alternative
- Pectin – creates similar, but slightly different results
- Instant clear gel – creates similar, but slightly different results
- Cornstarch – useful as an alternative thickener for sauces, soups, and stews
- Arrowroot – useful as an alternative thickener for sauces, soups, and stews
It might seem like a foreign concept, but adding gelatin to coffee has a convincing host of benefits. Gelatin is relatively inexpensive and easy to come by, so you don’t have much to lose by giving it a try. Even if you prefer not to add it to your everyday diet, coffee jelly is a perfect way to mix the two flavors. Either way, it’s never a bad idea to broaden your horizons and try something new. It could turn out to be your next favorite thing!