Paleo Coffee on The 30 day Paleo Detox Challenge – Day 15

Paleo coffee

Having decided, rather arbitrarily perhaps, being based on the evidence of one day of feeling good, that I’d reached some kind of detox plateau, I thought I’d experiment.

The one thing I’ve really been missing over the last week or so has been coffee so, given that coffee is permitted under the Whole30 rules, I thought it was time to reintroduce coffee…

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Paleo Coffee

And yes, I did say that I was detoxing from coffee for the whole 30 days but, as I explained yesterday, I’ve decided to revise that because I’ve not experienced either the withdrawal symptoms or the benefits I was expecting.

So it’s time for more science!

In a moment, but first…

Is coffee Paleo?

I think it’s only fair to address this one, judging by the amount of suggestions Google throws up, queries such as Is Coffee Paleo Friendly, and Can I Drink Coffee On A Paleo Diet are common. So what’s the answer? Is coffee paleo or not?

Of course not!

Well it should be pretty obvious that paleolithic hunter gatherers didn’t sit around drinking coffee so, in the strictest sense of the words, no coffee is not suitable for a paleo diet!

But on the other hand there are plenty of folks who would argue that coffee is paleo. After all, it’s not full of sugars or other artificial chemicals and no grains or dairy to cause allergy problems. Coffee is, at least, a fairly clean drug.

There’s a price to pay

But yes, as with many drugs, there is a cost. As @jacross put it so excellently in commenting on this Lifehacker post:

Does it fit with paleo? Wrong question.

Does it pass a cost benefit analysis in terms of the totality of its effects and your individual goals? Right question.

Yes, the whole “Is coffee paleo?” question is a fine example of the need to ask better questions. Of course you can drink coffee on a paleo diet, but do you really want to? Do you know what it’s doing to you? Do you know the price?

The cost of coffee drinking

Long term and heavy coffee drinking can take quite a toll on your body. Specifically it has an exhausting effect on the adrenal glands and can affect insulin sensitivity. The result of this interference is often disturbed sleep, fatigue and headaches. Far from the burst of energy you first experienced from your coffee, you end up feeling heavy and sluggish.

Is it worth it?

Only you can answer that question as coffee seems to affect people in different ways. How much do you drink, how strong and how often?  And what effect do you feel it having?

If you’re not sure of what your coffee is doing to you then starting a paleo detox, coffee free of course, will give you a better idea, either as you withdraw the coffee or as you reintroduce it.

Which is what I’m doing today. Like this…

The Paleo Coffee Recipe

So, the legendary caramel latte style paleo coffee I’ve been longing to try goes something like this:

1 cup strong black coffee
1 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp coconut milk

Mess with the ratio to suit, but those are the magic ingredients. Put them all in a suitable container and whiz with a stick blender or whatever you’d use for your regular Bulletproof coffee.

The taste test

Okay, let’s start with the good points…

The aroma – amazing! Smells just like a caramel latte. To be fair it’s quite a while since I had one of those, but really, this smells fantastic. If paleo coffee can be this good then bring it on!

paleo coffee mugFat! Yep, plenty of it. I was hungry, which is why I went for the first one just a couple of hours after breakfast. It did the job nicely, keeping me going for several hours.

And the not so good…

The taste, was….. well the best comparison I could come up with was licking the grill pan. It was foul! Bitter, burnt, gritty, greasy yuckiness!

Oh dear!

It turns out that I’d made my paleo coffee with Cara’s packet of Taylor’s Hot Lava Java – it gets great reviews but it’s really not to my taste.

Attempt two….

bulletproof coffee on a paleo dietSo a few hours later I was hungry again and made a fresh brew of my favorite Italian roast, paleo coffee style. Better, but…! The same gorgeous caramel aroma, but the taste was still pretty unpleasant, not as burnt, but still bitter with an nasty aftertaste.

Oh barnacles! Maybe I just don’t like coffee any more.

Last chance

So the one time I’ve really, really been wanting a coffee is after dinner. It’s only for a bulletproof breakfast that I take anything in my coffee, so I went for a mug of good, strong, Italian roast, black and unsweetened after dinner.

I actually enjoyed it!

Yay!! But a slightly muted celebration; it was OK, nice enough, but not the wonderful, warming, satisfying experience I was anticipating.

It seems that while I still like coffee, as long as it’s black perhaps, it does seem to have lost its magic for me. Quite how I find it more bitter when it has ghee and coconut milk (which is very sweet) in it I don’t know, that’s just strange, but I don’t think I’ll be trying it again soon.

Perhaps when I’m back to trying dairy I’ll try a real bulletproof coffee – black coffee and a big chunk of grassfed butter – to see how that compares to the paleo coffee version.

The science

I did wonder if I’d be able to measure the effect on my body, so I’ve been testing my blood pressure and heart rate throughout the day, taking readings before and after drinking coffee.

Can I drink coffee on a paleo diet?I’m not sure I have anything conclusive, especially without a baseline. The charts suggest my blood pressure should rise through the morning and fall again towards evening – and that’s what I saw, with some variations.

If anything, drinking coffee made my heart rate increase slightly, about 5 bpm, and my blood pressure drop a little.

The only strongly conclusive result, and the one I could feel physically, was that, after eating a large meal and drinking a coffee, my heart rate increased and the pulse was stronger.

The racing, pounding heart I was expecting from coffee never materialised – my resting heart rate increased about 5bpm to an average 52bpm after coffee. After eating it was up to 58bpm.

I shall, perhaps, take more numbers on a day without coffee to get a retrospective baseline.

Anything else to add?

Well yes, actually.

I feel bright and alert, except for a slight, but growing, headache. It started it started sometime in the morning, perhaps after the first coffee, and has been slowly gaining momentum since (about 10 hours). Could be just that I’m tired – only 5 hours sleep last night – but I’m suspicious!

Will I be drinking more coffee?

Good question! And it demands another to know the answer. Let’s use this one: Does drinking coffee pass a cost benefit analysis in terms of the totality of its effects and my individual goals?

Hmmm. Possibly not then!

Well not the paleo coffee anyway. As much as it smells like caramel latte, I just didn’t like the taste. If I need more fat for fuel there are plenty of other ways that seem more appetising right now. Black coffee after dinner – maybe, as I did enjoy that one.

The one thing that concerns me is this headache – if it’s the coffee then no way – it doesn’t taste that good that I’m prepared to risk feeling like this. I do feel quite alert,but I think I’d sacrifice a little alertness for a pain-free head.

And I still don’t know how it might affect my sleep.


More of this tomorrow I think, perhaps with some more numbers, but it’s not looking great. Even if I can drink coffee on a paleo diet I’m not sure I want to now!

So, other than paleo coffee, what have I eaten today?

Smoothie – banana, coconut milk, dates, raisins, sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Paleo Coffee with ghee and coconut milk

Paleo Coffee with ghee and coconut milk

Slow roast pork with garlic, lemon and fennel
Roast carrots
Roast broccoli
– Black coffee after

An apple, probably

Water and coffee

And that’s it!
IanB has been drinking Paleo Coffee today

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