If ever there was a perfect drink to solve our collective exhaustion and love of gut health in one fell sip, it’s coffee kombucha. The unexpected (but surprisingly delicious) combination creates a cool, summer drink that’s just made for one of those tacky-cute cocktail umbrellas, but if you want to make your own, you’ll need to put in some time in the kitchen (two week’s worth, to be exact).
Below, you’ll learn all about why sipping on coffee kombucha might be a good fit for your health goals. And, you’ll even walk away with a recipe you can try for yourself. I say: Bring on the brew-tiful ‘buch.
The health benefits of coffee kombucha
Although coffee kombucha really only contains two ingredients (coffee and… kombucha), dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, host of Well+Good’s series You Versus Food, says that the stuff packs a lot of benefits into one glass. “The health properties of coffee and kombucha are twisted together in a coffee kombucha, touted for its beneficial healthy bacteria, B-vitamins, and a boost of antioxidants,” says Beckerman.
Taken apart, both coffee and kombucha have a lot to offer in the health department. Besides giving you that bright-eyed-bushy-tail feeling from the caffeine, coffee also delivers your body nutrients, antioxidants, and the energy you need to go into beast mode for your workouts. Meanwhile, kombucha’s purported benefits include improving digestion, strengthening the immune system, and reducing blood pressure. Put the two together and they seem to be a match made in wellness heaven, but Beckerman says that kombucha-making newbies should proceed with caution.
Why? If you do your mixology just right, you’ll wind up with a refreshing drink, but Beckerman warns there’s a lot of room for error when it comes to working with SCOBY (the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast used in the fermentation of kombucha). “The health risks in this project [when you try to grow your own SCOBY] may outweigh the benefits, especially during a national pandemic. It may be tempting to get crafty with this but if you are not comfortable or skilled making kombucha at home, it may not be worth it,” she says. Basically, there’s a risk that you could grow the wrong kind of bacteria or too much bacteria, which could make you sick.
Beyond that, some may feel deterred by the 1/2 cup of sugar required in the kombucha-making process. To those folks, it’s worth noting what New York City nutritionist Amy Shapiro, RD, previously told Well+Good: “The culture in the bacteria or yeast consumes much of the sugar… If you don’t use enough sugar, the brew will not develop correctly and the right environment will not exist. Much of the sugar is digested and you’re left with minimal sugar at the end.” The sugar is (mostly) for the SCOBY, not for you.
TL;DR: If you don’t feel 1,000 percent secure in your ability to raise your own SCOBY, you may consider Frankensteining this beverage together by buying a bottle of ‘buch and combining it, carefully, with already-prepped iced or cold-brewed coffee. If you happen to be one of those people who feel comfortable growing yeast (that’s cool for you), go ahead and purchase your pet, SCOBY.
To get you started, James Kilpatrick, blogger behind Beanie Coffee, shares his carefully-crafted recipe for French vanilla bean coffee ‘buch.
How to make French vanilla bean coffee kombucha from scratch
- 1 to 2 cups of organic plain ground coffee
- 1 cup of vanilla bean extract
- 1 cup of sugar
- 12 cups of water
- 1 cup of kombucha starter
- First, brew 2.8 liters of coffee by combining 1-2 cups of organic plain ground coffee and 12 cups of water.
- Stir in 1 cup of vanilla bean extract and 1 cup of sugar into your mix
- Once it’s completely cooled, transfer this mix to a fermentation barrel or jar big enough to contain at least three liters of liquid.
- Stir in a cup of kombucha starter.
- Cover the jar with cheesecloth, secure it around the mouth with rubber bands. Store in a dark room out of direct sunlight.
- Wait for two weeks for the fermentation process to finish.
- Once your coffee kombucha is ready, pour it in a different container and store covered in the refrigerator.
- You can serve the kombucha cold or room-temperature. Do not warm it up as it will kill off the live bacteria that make kombucha so healthy.
- Feel free to add in a dollop of cream or some milk if you like to drink your coffee this way! You can even add in a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you’d like.
How and how long to store your kombucha
As mentioned above, you’ll want to store the finished coffee kombucha in the fridge or at room temperature in a glass kombucha jar (like this one). But it’s really important not to let the kombucha get above 82 degrees, which could spoil the beneficial bacteria and make you sick.
In general, homemade kombucha can last between four and five months in the fridge. However, you’ll need to “burp” the kombucha every month or so by opening the cap and releasing the pressure. This will keep the kombucha from exploding all over the white shirt you’ll surely be wearing on the day you decide you want to crack the bottle open.
In short, if you’re looking for a coffee kick that will double as a good-for-your-gut beverage, coffee kombucha is kind of, well, it. Only the most patient among us will make it through the two-week-long process it takes to carefully nurture the SCOBY into drinkable organisms, and you’ll also need to budget time for shipping the supplies you might need. For all your hard work, you’ll wind up with coffee kombucha that you can sip for months to come—and you’ll have some new friends in the form of the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
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