A protein shake in the morning is a great start to the day. There’s no limit to the healthy ingredients you can throw in a shake, so it’s easy to keep it fresh. And the big dose of protein keeps me feeling full all the way until lunch time.
I’m also a red-blooded American, so I like to have morning coffee every day, too. Before I moved to Asia, I homebrewed Starbucks coffee every day for 20 years. To this day, something about a Starbucks coffee just makes the world seem good again.
But when I make a protein shake, it’s usually pretty big. Drinking both a coffee and a protein shake is too much. So for me, it’s better to combine coffee and protein powder into one drink. It’s just more manageable.
Problem is, protein powder doesn’t play nice with hot coffee. Worst case you get a lumpy mess with the powder sticking to both the mixing utensil and the side of the coffee cup. Or else you get a foamy coffee that just doesn’t taste right.
With that in mind, here’s my 7 pro tips for getting coffee and protein powder to mix:
Put instant coffee in your protein shake
Obviously, this only applies if you are indeed making a protein shake anyway. It doesn’t apply if you definitely want hot coffee with a scoop of protein powder mixed in. But this method gets great results, so I am mentioning it first.
If you are a coffee snob and resistant to using instant coffee, don’t be. There are some great-tasting freeze dried coffees available nowadays. I am a coffee snob and, while not as delicious as Starbucks, I am fine with it. And, of course, you can’t beat the convenience of instant coffee.
It’s so easy to toss a teaspoon or two of instant coffee into your shake mix. It blends in that nice coffee flavor without any of the clumpiness or foam you get with mixing with hot coffee. This is my number one recommendation and if you do morning protein shakes, definitely try it.
Don’t add protein powder directly to hot coffee
You’ve probably tried this already, and that is why you are reading this. Some methods work better with hot coffee than others, but none have ideal results.
If you stir it in, the coffee gets clumpy bubbles of protein powder. No good. A blender works better because it gets rid of the clumps. But blenders make the coffee too frothy for my taste. An immersion blender works best and makes cleanup a breeze.
Although I don’t necessarily recommend it this method, here’s a good video on how to best mix protein powder directly into hot coffee:
Mix protein powder in coffee creamer or milk
If you like a lot of milk or creamer in your coffee then you can dissolve the protein powder in it, prior to mixing with hot coffee. Protein powder plays nicely with cold liquids, so this works well. But remember that both milk and cream are already thick with dissolved solids, so it will only accommodate a little bit of protein powder.
After the powder is fully absorbed in the cold creamer, slowly stir in hot coffee on top. This makes a good tasting coffee.
Dissolve the protein powder in cold water, then add hot coffee
But what if you like your coffee black? Or if you want to use a lot of protein powder? Then the best option is to mix it with cold water first. Make sure it blends smoothly, with no lumps, then stir in hot coffee.
This method also has good results, but the coffee may not be as hot as you would like after mixing with cold water. The coffee may then need to be reheated, which can alter the taste. Depends on how sensitive your taste buds are and requires a little experimenting to get just right.
Make iced coffee instead
Protein powder dissolves evenly in iced coffee, making it a great choice. As mentioned, hot liquid is what causes the powder to coagulate and clump. So iced coffee is a perfect alternative when you want to mix coffee with protein powder.
Soy protein powder tastes better
Chances are, you are probably using whey or casein protein powder. By far, these are the most popular. But whey tastes bitter, no? To me it does. Not a great compliment to coffee, or anything else, in my humble opinion.
Why don’t you try soy protein powder instead? I’ve been using soy protein powder for decades because it has a neutral, semi-sweet taste. And soy protein is vegetarian so it is better for you and the environment. Soy protein is also a complete protein, just like animal-based proteins. It contains all the essential amino acids needed by the human body. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Don’t worry about protein denaturing in hot coffee
Many people are concerned that the protein in protein powder is potentially degraded by heat. In a process called denaturation, chemical bonds may break down, rendering the protein less potent.
This, however, should not be of concern because coffee is not hot enough to do this. It takes high heat exposure for a prolonged time period to cause protein to denature like this.
Because protein powder tends to clump and froth when added to hot liquids, it is tricky to get a good tasting cup of joe with it. Try adding instant coffee powder to a protein smoothie for best results. Or mix the powder in cold milk or water before adding it to coffee.
Please let me know in the comments what you think of my recommendations. Do you have a pro tip that you would like to share with my readers? Thanks.
Choose your protein powder
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