December 5, 2019

Coffee or Tea? How to get your Morning Started according to Ayurveda.

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I was talking with a friend the other day, debating about coffee versus tea.

I recently made the switch to tea, and he is a lifelong coffee fanatic. We talked about the benefits and drawbacks of each, and at the end, he confessed his love for Americanos.

I told him, “My best friend is also a Vata and she loves Americanos too!” and he replied, “What is a Vata? And why do we both love Americanos?”

I decided to explore the doshas and their tendencies, and recommend some coffee and tea drinks for each of them.

For many of us Western yogis, our knowledge and practice of yoga is purely physical and it exists solely on our mat, in a yoga studio, or in the gym. When the hour or so is over, so is our practice. The origins of yoga come from the Vedic culture that is thousands of years old and encompass all aspects of life.

Ayurveda is one of the ancient systems of wellness, and the physical yoga we know in the West is an offshoot. Ayurveda means the “science of life” and it prescribes ways to live to keep yourself in balance with your true nature.

So, what is your true nature and how do you keep it balanced? In Ayurveda, to know yourself, you begin by knowing your dosha, or your natural proclivities. If you don’t yet know your dosha, take a free dosha quiz here or here. Keep in mind that most of us have aspects of all three doshas, but one or two are typically predominant.

The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Here is a quick primer on each:

Vata is connected to the elements of air and space, which are cool and dry. Vata types are typically small and petite or tall and lanky, and have a hard time putting on weight. When in balance, Vatas can be quick to learn, and are interested in many things. When out of balance, they can be forgetful and have a hard time sleeping.

Pitta is connected with the elements of fire and water, which are hot and wet. Pitta types are strong and their weight can fluctuate. A balanced Pitta can be determined and focused, and they are often goal-oriented type A personalities. When a Pitta is out of balance, they will be quick to anger, run hot, and can have digestion issues like acid reflux.

Kapha is connected with earth and water elements, which are slow and wet. Kapha types are typically taller and have larger, sturdy frames. Kaphas in balance are consistent, can be calm and patient, and they like to take their time with decisions. When a Kapha is out of balance, they can become lethargic, and they often get colds or coughs with accompanying mucus.

Now that you know your dosha, take a look at some fun coffee and tea drinks that may help you stay in balance.


Vata types can have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time, and an overdose of caffeine doesn’t help that. One cup of regular coffee, decaf coffee, or tea are great choices. If the more delicate Vata digestion can tolerate it, add dairy, almond, or coconut milk. Even better, add some cream or half and half for extra grounding, and cinnamon for warming.

Café drinks to avoid: double or triple espressos or iced drinks.

Café drinks to try: Americano with a dollop of cream or milk of your choice.


Pitta types love to get revved up for the day, but really, decaf or tea is best for them. Their natural high-energy state doesn’t need much of a boost. Adding dairy, almond, or coconut milk can be cooling to already warm pitta and dairy milk can calm any aggressive pitta energy. Add a pinch of ground cardamom to lower acidity.

Café drinks to avoid: double and triple espressos.

Café drinks to try: matcha or chai latte with coconut milk.


Slower moving Kapha types can benefit from a little caffeine charge. For this type, skip the milk, or if you must, use just a bit of low-fat dairy, almond, or rice milk. Add a bit of turmeric or ginger for warming, and maca for extra energy.

Café drinks to avoid: iced, blended, creamy drinks.

Café drinks to try: flat white with low-fat milk or almond milk.

Try the above suggestions and see how you feel. If you have a combination of two doshas, see where they overlap. For example, a Pitta-Vata type might do well with a half-caffeine Americano with almond or coconut milk. If you’re really interested, find an Ayurvedic specialist to help guide your explorations.

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