Two glasses of coffee with cinnamon sticks

How to Spice Up Your Coffee This Holiday Season

The holidays are back and it’s time to spice up your beverages! That includes your regular cup of joe. Wondering how to do this? Fear not. From Moccocan spiced coffee to cinnamon brews, we have the best recipes for you to put the kick back into your caffeine hit.

Cinnamon Brew

This is a tasty coffee makeover that adds fragrance to your brew. The trick is to add powdered cinnamon to the coffee grounds before you start brewing. The end result is a warm spicy drink that will kickstart your morning.

Ingredients

  • For a 6-9 cup serving: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon will do. 
  • For a pour-over coffee: About 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for every 16 ounces of water.

Instructions

  1. Mix the spice into the coffee grounds in the filter. For a more aromatic brew you can also add a little nutmeg into the brew; mix the nutmeg grounds and cinnamon in the ratio 1:1.
  2. Add sugar or cream and adjust to taste. A more exotic taste can also be achieved by substituting cinnamon with ginger grounds. You can also experiment with a mixture of cardamom and ground ginger for a more herbal taste.

Vanilla Syrup   

Vanilla is one of the easiest spices to come by. With a little know-how you can turn your coffee into flavored drinks using these beans. Vanilla extracts will do for either hot or cold coffee; it can also come in handy when brewing your own cappuccino or latte. 

Ingredients

Vanilla beans (one or several will do depending on your serving)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

The trick here is to dissolve vanilla (extract and the insides) in your sweeter before adding it to your coffee. 

  1. Split the bean long-ways and pour out the insides, scrape off to get every ounce of the creamy spice.
  2. Place the scrapped vanilla insides in a pan, add sugar and water. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved or turned into thick slurry. 
  3. Remove the creamy mixture from heat and add the vanilla extract to enhance the taste. Let the mixture cool down completely.
  4. Use a fine sieve to remove the beans’ fragments as you transfer the slurry into a serving (pourable) container. 
  5. Use the extract to your taste whenever you need to sweeten your coffee. 

The mixture can last for up to 2 weeks by keeping it cool it in a fridge 

Mint Syrup Coffee

Cold brew coffee with mint and sugar

Mint will not only flavor your drink but it will also leave your kitchen with a sweet, fresh fragrance. This delightful recipe calls for a herbal mint of your choosing. We recommend sprig leaves which are known to be highly concentrated with the minty aroma. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 sprig mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Heat the water to boil and add sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the leaves and let them steep in the mixture as it cool down. To get all the flavor by ensuring the leaves are completely submerged.
  3. After 3-5 hours, remove the leaves and store the liquid in a lidded container.
  4. Pour to taste whenever you crave a cup of coffee.

The mixture is good for up to a week if kept cold in a fridge.

Spiced Eggnog Coffee

Adding eggnog in your coffee will add a little over 100 calories to your drink, but the taste is well worth it. Take a cup of this creamy delight in the morning; this will do for most of your energy needs during the rest of the day.

Ingredients

  • A few teaspoons of eggnog
  • A pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the nog in a sauce pan and cook while stirring (do not let it boil)
  2. Add a pinch of nutmeg if you desire.
  3. Pour in a cup of black coffee and you are ready to go.

The drink can be taken with whipped cream for a more holiday feel

Moroccan Spiced Coffee

A touch of African coffee could be the warming up your body needs this holiday. This Moroccan brew ups your coffee’s flavor by adding a bit of peppery taste. Yes, that’s right… ground black pepper corns can be added to beverages. The brew is made spicier by adding freshly ground cardamom, cloves and cinnamon into the mix.

Ingredients

Ground coffee to your taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • A pinch of ground green cardamom seeds
  • 1 cup roasted coffee beans
  • Hot milk, sugar or cream as desired

Instructions

  1. Mix the freshly ground pepper, cardamom ginger, cloves and coffee beans in a blender. Whirl the mixture until it’s finely ground.
  2. Boil 4-5 cups of water.
  3. Pour milk in a saucepan and heat it but don’t let it boil.
  4. Pour the coffee plus spice mixture into the filter and pour the boiling water over it to extract the different flavors. Continue adding the water slowly allowing it to drip through the coffee grounds.
  5. When using a French press: pour the coffee plus spice mixture into the press pot. Pour in the boiling water and let the mixture steep for about 5 minutes. Bring the plunger down and serve.
  6. Add milk and sugar or cream as per your desire.

Spiced up White Coffee

Eggnog with cinnamon stick

A cup of white coffee can be made more enjoyable by adding a few simple spices. The recipe for this requires a one-time serving for a small gathering. Think of this recipe as a better alternative to chocolate flavored coffee. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves
  • A pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk over medium heat (do not let it boil)
  2. Add the spices and stir to make a thick cream
  3. Whisk the mixture if you wish to make a light froth
  4. Pour the cream in a serving container and let your guest add it to their cups of black coffee.

The mixture will not last even when put in a refrigerator; serve all of it in one sitting.  

Almond Spiced Coffee Blend

Not everybody is up for milk; if you’re lactose intolerance or if you simply enjoy animal products, almond milk will do for a cup of creamy coffee. While you are it why not spice it up with a few ground flavors.

Ingredients

  • Almond milk to your taste
  • 2 teaspoons roasted ground coffee
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • A pinch of nutmeg and cardamom 

Instructions

  1. Add 8 cups of water to your coffee maker 
  2. Add coffee and the ground allspice 
  3. Brew as per machine instructions and use a paper filter to get rid of spice fragments
  4. Add almond milk and sweeter to taste 

Spiced Marmalade Coffee

Bring out the holiday cheer by making some fruit-spiced coffee. Orange marmalade in particular will add a citric-taste and sweet aroma to your brew. So the next time you are at the farmers’ market, be sure to pick up a few ripe oranges ready for marmalade coffee. Add some spices to your shopping list and let the holidays come to life.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup of marmalade
  • 3 cups of water

Instructions

  1. Mix the ground cloves, cinnamon and coffee and place them in your coffee filter. 
  2. Add the marmalade into the coffee in it semisolid form.
  3. Add water and let the mixture brew as per instructions.    
  4. Stir before serving to ensure that the marmalade is well dissolved and thoroughly blended 

Honey Spice Latte

A cup of latter with a small jar of honey

By combining several spices you can create a magical latte. In addition to sugar, add a little honey to your coffee. Honey is packed with amino acids and several other minerals that are extremely beneficial for your metabolism. If you have a sweet tooth you can add some molasses; this will also give the brew a richer texture and add on flavor. 

Ingredients  

  • 1/2 cup ground coffee
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • A pinch of cloves

Instructions

  1. Mix the spices, sugar, honey, milk and molasses in a saucepan.
  2. Cook the mixture over medium heat while stirring for consistency (Do not let it boil). Remove from heat and blend the mixture for a few seconds until it’s foamy.
  3. Add the ground coffee to 5 cups of water in your coffee maker and brew as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Pour the coffee brew into five cups and divide the spicy mixture among them. 
  5. If whipped cream is your thing, use it to garnish this homemade latte.

Cinnamon Mocha Coffee

This is one of those brews that can be quite expensive at your local cafe. So instead of spending precious dollars over just a single cup, consider buying a few spices to brew a serving worth at least 5 cups. 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cocoa 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Mix the sugar, milk, cocoa, and vanilla in a saucepan.
  2. Cook the slurry in medium heat for about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the granules and milk get to blend completely. 
  3. Mix coffee and ground cinnamon in your coffee filter and 4 to 5 cups of water. Brew the mixture according to your liking or the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Serve the hot milk mixture and pour in the cinnamon spiced coffee 

Thia drink can be garnished with whipped cream or with a few cinnamon sticks.

Tips for Better Coffee

Using the recipes above you can whip up a few spices and really go beyond the ‘coffee with cream and sugar’ routine. However, to get the best out of your coffee brew, here are a few tips and tricks to spice it up further:

  • Make patterns on your latte; this is a fun way of getting people into the holiday mood. If a barista can do it, why not you?
  • It takes time for hot coffee to cool down, so when you are pressed for time, just make a ‘cold power’ brew.
  • Use ‘Robusta’ coffee when going for maximum caffeine brews – ‘Arabica’ packs about half the caffeine levels of the former.
  • When using ‘drip’ to make coffee, first run hot water through the coffeemaker to heat it up before you start brewing- this makes the end result more desirable.  
  • Prefer French press over drip coffee when you want a strong brew.

The Take-Away

You can make your coffee time more memorable by adopting the above recipes. These are coffee brewing methods that are meant to make your drink spicy, strong and flavored. Some of the spices that will help you in this include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, peppercorn, cocoa and nutmeg. To enhance the taste of your brew, you can go with natural sweeteners such as honey and molasses. If minty is how you like your cup then try freshly ground green sprig leaves and to cap it all, consider making your coffee fruity by adding some orange marmalade.

Botanical skincare with ingredients

The Best Botanical Ingredients for Smooth, Glowing Skin

While botanicals may have become quite the skin care buzzword lately, these natural ingredients have been used on the skin for decades. Botanical extracts are derived from plants, whether it be the flower, fruit or leaves, and this gives each one some truly powerful and unique properties. 

Wondering which botanical ingredients you should be adding in to your skin care routine? Here are 10 of the best.

Grape Seed

Derived from the seeds of grapes, grape seed tends to appear as either an extract or an oil in skin care products, and can also be taken as oral supplements.

Whichever one you go for, this botanical has some incredible skin-boosting properties, such as:

  • Contains potent antioxidants – not only does grape seed contain vitamins C and E, but it is also high in plant compounds known as OPCs. These have been shown to have 20 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E, along with 50 times that of vitamin C
  • Anti-aging benefits – when applied to the skin, grape seed bonds with collagen to strengthen it. This then makes a huge difference to smoothness, wrinkles and elasticity
  • Reduces sun damage – when applied to the skin before sun exposure, grape seed is able to help protect against the sun’s UV rays, boosting the way in which a sunscreen works. Some studies also suggest that grape seed can even protect against cancer
  • Softens and moisturizes the skin – grape seed is a rich moisturizer, but is also extremely gentle

Aloe Vera

You have likely heard of, or even used, aloe vera before, but did you know that this plant contains more healing compounds than most of the other plants out there?

This is why aloe vera is often referred to as the miracle plant, as there are so many different issues that this botanical can treat. 

Dripping aloe vera juice into a clear jar

When it comes to the skin, aloe vera is most commonly used for its calming and soothing properties, which is why you will often find it formulated into products for sensitive skin. 

In addition to this, aloe vera has a few other benefits, such as: 

  • Speeds up wound healing – due to its anti-microbial properties. This is also why the gel is a common treatment for sunburn 
  • Hydrates the skin – aloe vera has the ability to store huge amounts of water, as this helps the plant from drying out in the desert. These water-storing abilities translate to the skin as intense doses of moisture and hydration 
  • Packed with antioxidants – aloe vera contains a number of nutrients, and many of these are powerful antioxidants that can help to treat skin cell damage while preventing premature aging 
  • Can treat acne – this is thanks to the plant’s anti-microbial properties, as well as the way in which it can calm inflammation 
  • Has anti-aging effects – many of its nutrients, including vitamins C and E, are key when it comes to keeping the skin looking youthful

No matter your skin type, and whether you are suffering from acne, psoriasis, or anything else, aloe vera is a botanical that can probably help. 

Witch Hazel

If you have oily, acne-prone skin, then you have probably already heard of, or even used, witch hazel before.

The botanical itself comes from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel shrub, a plant that is native to North America.

Why is it such a popular acne treatment?

Because, firstly, witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory. This means that not only can it reduce acne breakouts, but it can also treat other inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.

Witch hazel is also an astringent.

What does this mean?

That it causes the tissues in your skin to contract, resulting in the opening of your pores shrinking. This then prevents oil, bacteria and everything else from settling into your pores and causing breakouts.

If all of that wasn’t enough, witch hazel is also packed with tannins. These are plant compounds that boast antioxidant properties, meaning that they are able to neutralize free radicals in the skin. Research shows that tannins are also able to act as an effective barrier on the surface of the skin, preventing unwanted particles from entering into the skin’s layers.

Chamomile

A plant that produces small flowers that look similar to daisies, chamomile has long since been used for its healing properties. 

Cup of chamomile in water surrounded by loose chamomile flowers

As you probably know, chamomile tea is often consumed for its calming effects, and these are the same benefits that your skin will experience when this extract is applied topically. 

In a way, the skin effects of chamomile are quite similar to that of aloe vera, with chamomile also being an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich and skin-soothing ingredient. 

Just like aloe vera, chamomile is great for healing the skin, and is also often used for treating burns. It is also hydrating and gentle, making it ideal for all skin types, even for babies. 

Green Tea

While all of the teas are fantastic for your skin, green tea is just that little bit more powerful, making this the tea to go for. 

Studies show that green tea contains the most potent of all the antioxidants known to mankind. Known as EGCG, this antioxidant not only has anti-cancer properties, but is also a fantastic anti-aging compound. 

Green tea is also highly anti-inflammatory. This is due to the polyphenols, known as catechins, within the extract. 

If you’ve got acne, green tea can help with this too since it is an antibacterial agent, while those with dry skin will love the hydrating properties of this botanical. 

Do you suffer from puffy eyes and dark circles? 

Green tea contains tannins that are able to shrink blood vessels, reducing puffiness and redness, which is why this ingredient is often used in eye creams and serums.

Rose

Roses are quite an amazing plant, and so many parts of this plant are beneficial when it comes to the skin. 

These are just a few of the products that can be made with roses: 

  • Rose water – a great cleanser and toner 
  • Rosehip oil – incredibly hydrating and moisturizing 
  • Rose extract – gentle but potent 

No matter which type of rose product you choose, they all share similar properties, such as: 

  • Antibacterial – this makes rose an effective cleansing agent, especially for those who suffer from acne 
  • Anti-inflammatory – roses are fantastic for reducing redness and swelling while calming the skin 
  • Antioxidants – roses are packed with antioxidants, including especially high levels of vitamin C 
  • Astringent – roses have astringent properties, meaning that they are able to tighten up the pore openings 
  • Moisturizing – roses contain an array of natural oils that help to soften and condition the skin 

As you already know, roses also have a beautifully distinct scent. For this reason, many skin care companies choose to use this botanical instead of a fragrance in their products. 

Marine Algae

Often referred to as the superfood of the sea, algae, along with seaweed and kelp, is fantastic for the skin. This is something that is becoming more and more widely known, with over 40% of millennials in the USA already using a skin care product containing marine algae.

Marine algae floating freely in the ocean

So, what makes algae so effective?

To begin with, algae is one of the most nutrient-dense crops in the world. These are just a few of the nutrients that can be found in marine algae: 

  • Vitamins A, B, C, D and E 
  • Minerals including copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, zinc, iodine, calcium and phosphorus 
  • Amino acids and proteins 
  • Peptides 

What does all of this do for your skin? 

Quite a bit, such as protecting against cell damage, hydrating the skin, nourishing the skin with antioxidants and providing the skin with plenty of anti-aging compounds. 

There are many different types of marine algae out there, and while they all share some similarities, they also each have their own distinct properties. 

Jojoba

Jojoba is a plant that is native to North America, and the oil that is derived from it is already an extremely popular skin care botanical. 

Why? 

Well, most importantly, the structure of jojoba oil mimics that of the sebum that is naturally produced by the skin. This means that jojoba is an oil that can even be used by those with oily skin. Rather than exacerbating oiliness, jojoba oil tricks the skin into thinking that it has produced enough oil, resulting in its sebum production slowing down.

Thanks to its unique structure, jojoba oil also has the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin than other oils, meaning that it can bring about more significant changes. 

What does it actually do once it is in the skin? 

A number of things, such as: 

  • Antibacterial properties – able to kill bacteria and fungi on the surface of the skin 
  • High in antioxidants – can fight free radicals, while its vitamin E helps to heal the skin 
  • Noncomedogenic – this means that it won’t clog up your pores 
  • Anti-aging benefits – jojoba oil can help to increase the rate at which your body produces collagen 
  • Speeds up wound healing – the oil encourages skin cells to bind back together again after they have been damaged and separated 
  • Anti-inflammatory – calms and soothes the skin, making it especially effective for eczema and psoriasis 

Jojoba oil is extremely gentle and safe, meaning that not only can it be used by all skin types, but it can even be used on the more sensitive parts of the skin, such as around the eyes. 

Oats

While oats may not be as exotic as some of the other ingredients on this list, this botanical has some amazing skin-boosting properties. 

You probably already know that oats are a great ingredient to use if you need to soothe and calm your skin. This is due to the botanical’s anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties, both of which are so effective when it comes to treating conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dry skin and itching. 

It is also packed with antioxidants, proteins and lipids, all of which help to protect the skin from damage while encouraging skin cell healing. 

Wondering if you can just apply the oatmeal in your kitchen to your skin? 

Technically, yes, but this won’t have much of an impact. The oat extracts contained in skin care products consist of molecules that are small enough to be absorbed by the skin, and this is something that won’t happen with standard oatmeal. 

Pomegranate

Pomegranates have been around for over 3000 years, with ancient cultures being well familiar with the health benefits that this juicy fruit can bring. 

Loose pomegranate surrounding a small vial of pomegranate extract

When it comes to the skin, pomegranate has a number of effects, including: 

  • High in antioxidants – research shows that pomegranate is very capable of protecting skin cells from damage. It also contains ellagic acid, which increases the rate at which the body produces its own antioxidants 
  • UV protection – while it shouldn’t replace your sunscreen, studies show that pomegranate is quite effective when it comes to protecting the skin from UV damage and sunburn 
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – this is down to the omega-5 punicic acid in pomegranates 
  • Anti-aging benefits – pomegranate is able to boost skin cell regeneration, as well as circulation, both of which keep the skin looking youthful 
  • Moisturizing properties – not only is pomegranate highly moisturizing, but the skin absorbs it easily, and it does not leave a greasy feeling behind
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals – these include everything from vitamins C and K to potassium, iron and zinc 

As more and more people are recognizing the benefits of botanicals, these ingredients can now be found in such a wide range of skin care products. They are able to help with so many different skin concerns, making it well worth incorporating more botanicals into your skin care routine whenever possible.