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What Is Maca Coffee? | Benefits, Side Effects & How To Make It

a cup of maca coffee with a rose beside it

Ever heard of maca? Or maca coffee?

If you haven’t, you’re not alone.

Maca is one of the latest adaptogenic wonder plants to gain popularity in recent years. To be fair, it has been traditionally used in Peru for thousands of years to boost energy, improve mood, and charmingly, increase libido. Now, imagine being able to add this magical ingredient to your morning cup of coffee.

It's like nailing two birds with a stone - maca coffee combines the benefits of maca and the energizing effects of traditional coffee!

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about maca, its benefits, and how adding maca to coffee can help you start your day on a high.

What is Maca or Maca Powder?

Maca is a cruciferous vegetable native to South America. It's also known as Ginseng Andin, Peruvian Ginseng, Lepidium mevenii, and Lepidium peruvianum. Sometimes you'll see maca referred to as a maca root. Maca root looks a bit like a large radish with an exterior resembling a potato.

The maca plant is considered an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps your body respond more effectively to stress, anxiety, and fatigue/tiredness.

Maca root is more well-known in Peru, where it's been used both as a source of food and as a medicinal plant. We'll cover more of the specific health benefits in the sections below.

Maca root comes in a variety of different colours. It's common to find red maca, yellow maca, and even black maca powder.

Maca powder, on the other hand, is simply harvested, dried, and powdered maca root. You'll find just as many varieties of the maca root powder available – black, yellow, or red maca powder.

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So, Can You Mix Maca in Coffee?

Yes, you can! You can add maca powder to your coffee, tea, or any other beverage of choice like a delicious maca latte. Try adding it to your cakes, energy or protein bars, and baked goodies. You can even experiment with its flavours in different cuisines. Try adding cacao powder, dairy, or spices like cinnamon to enhance the taste of your maca coffee.

A dosage of 1.5 to 3.5 grams of maca powder taken by mouth daily appears safe for healthy adults for a duration of 6 to 16 weeks. More research is required to establish maca powder's long-term effects.

What Does Maca Taste Like?

Some people say that maca tastes like "nutty", "caramel-ly" or "butterscotch-y". It's easy to understand why it's seen as a good alternative to coffee but without the caffeine. On the flip side, many people actively dislike the taste of maca, describing it closer to the taste of rotten wood shavings! As always, taste for yourself, to determine whether you could potentially enjoy its taste in regular coffee or other favourite beverages.

What Are the Health Benefits of Maca Powder?

Maca coffee made solely from the root of the maca plant helps you harness the benefits of maca without you having to deal with the side effects of caffeine. Maca has been associated with the following potential health benefits based on existing early research:

  • It may help boost fertility and improve libido and sexual function. In a specific study from 2020, 2 grams of maca taken daily for 12 weeks was seen to increase semen concentration but with no appreciable variation in semen motility. There is some evidence to suggest that women with depression-induced sexual dysfunction may experience improvement with maca supplementation. More studies are required in this area.
  • Studies suggest that maca can help relieve some of the symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, and interrupted sleep.
  • Maca may help provide an energy boost and improve moods in some people.
  • Maca may also provide other health benefits such as fighting inflammation, improving wound healing, and preserving cognitive function.

The Types of Maca and Their Specific Benefits

maca coffee in a ceramic cup on a wooden table

As was previously discussed, maca powder is available in three vibrant colours: yellow, red, and black. These distinct hues not only add visual appeal but also indicate the different nutritional and adaptogenic properties that each type possesses.

Yellow Maca

Yellow maca, the most abundant type, is best for daily consumption. It has been known to improve energy, mood, mental health, fertility, sexual function, and metabolic function, and reduce stress-induced inflammation.

Red Maca

Red maca is rare and is considered feminine. It assists in improving conditions such as anxiety, adrenal fatigue, osteoporosis, circulatory issues, hypoxia, and chronic inflammation. Red maca nourishes, regulates, and strengthens the female reproductive organs, and in men, the function of the prostate. Furthermore, red maca was shown to be the most effective at improving female fertility and libido and strengthening bones in post-menopausal women.

Black Maca

Black maca, the rarest type, represents masculine or external energy and is used to improve brain function, energy, physical performance, and mental focus. For men, black maca increased sperm production and function as well as male libido.

In combination, all three colours of maca can have significant health benefits. By understanding the differences between the colours, people can choose the right type of maca for their specific health needs. For example, women looking for more internal hormonal balance and harmony can try a 3 coloured blend enriched with high doses of red maca. Meanwhile, men looking for more energy, stamina, and endurance can try a blend enriched with high doses of black maca.

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What Is Maca Coffee?

Maca coffee is available as a standalone product. It's different from mixing maca powder into coffee and is usually sold as a caffeine-free alternative. To make it, maca root is processed the same way as coffee beans to give it a coffee-like flavour. In general, maca helps increase energy naturally, so maca coffee is seen as a good coffee substitute, although the taste may be a bone of contention for coffee lovers.

Are There Any Special Benefits to Maca Coffee?

Maca coffee made from the root of the maca plant helps you access the potential health benefits of maca root minus the side effects of the caffeine found in coffee. Maca coffee is a caffeine-free beverage, but because it helps increase energy, it's seen as a natural alternative to regular brewed coffee.

If you drink coffee regularly but find it difficult to tolerate the unpleasant side effects of caffeine, such as headaches, insomnia, dehydration, palpitations, and so on, it may be worth giving maca coffee a try.

Maca coffee may potentially help with the following although more research is needed to substantiate its effects on humans:

  • Improve libido, sexual function, and increase fertility
  • Relieve some of the symptoms of menopause
  • Boost energy and moods in some people
  • Fight inflammation and boost wound healing
  • Preserve cognitive function
  • Full of iron, amino acid, and fibre

Maca Coffee Side Effects

If you're making maca coffee by blending maca powder and coffee, you could potentially experience the side effects of caffeine. Because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, you may experience the following side effects if you consume caffeine in high doses or you're sensitive to caffeine:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Palpitations (heart beating faster)
  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety
  • Dependency

Since research on maca powder is in its early days, we do not have concrete information on potential long-term side effects. In general, avoid maca powder if you have thyroid problems or any form of hormonal medication, because of its effects on hormones.

How to Prepare Maca Coffee

Simply mix 1 to 2 tbsp maca powder in boiling water with a sweetener (honey, jaggery, sugar) and dairy option (cow milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc.) of your choice. The taste of maca on its own may not appeal to everyone's palate, although it's seen to have the closest taste profile to coffee. You could consider adding ground coffee powder if preferred and other ingredients like cocoa powder or raw cacao powder and spices like cinnamon to help improve the taste and flavour.

Conclusion

Maca is associated with several health benefits although research is still in its early days. You can enjoy the potential benefits of maca by mixing maca powder into your coffee or favourite beverage. Alternatively, simply prepare coffee from maca root powder alone to get an energy high minus the caffeine jitters!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How much maca powder should I put in my coffee?

You can add 1 to 2 tbsp of maca powder to your coffee to enjoy its health benefits and energy-boosting properties.

Q2. Does maca increase testosterone?

Some early research suggests that maca may help boost sexual function, libido, and fertility. The rumour around testosterone may come from the fact that maca may help optimize hormone function. Alternatively, you could look at taking the herb ashwagandha together with maca, as ashwagandha has shown some benefits in improving testosterone levels.

Q3. Can you drink maca coffee every day?

Maca is traditionally considered a health food and a medicine in its homeland of South America. It is seen as safe to consume daily, however, we do not have much scientific research to support it at this time.

Q4. Is maca coffee halal?

There is limited information available regarding the halal status of maca coffee. However, maca root itself is considered halal and commonly consumed in Muslim communities. It is important to note that the production and processing methods of maca coffee may vary between brands, so it is recommended to check the ingredients and processing methods before consuming if halal certification is necessary.

Q5. Is maca coffee good for diabetes?

Some studies suggest that maca extracts may have a positive effect on regulating glucose and lipid metabolism, which is beneficial for individuals with diabetes. Maca has also been found to have a low glycemic index, making it a suitable alternative to coffee and other caffeinated beverages for individuals with diabetes. However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of maca coffee on diabetes.

Q6. What's the difference between maca in coffee vs. maca powder?

There isn't much difference between the maca per se in either. Maca powder is simply harvested, dried, and powdered maca root. And maca coffee is simply coffee that contains powdered maca. At the same time, coffee does contain caffeine, whereas maca powder doesn't. Some people can be sensitive to even small amounts of caffeine experiencing side effects such as headaches, anxiety, jitteriness, and insomnia, in addition to feeling awake, refreshed, and alert. Refer to our list of side effects for both (earlier in this article) to understand how each can affect you individually.

Alternatively prepare maca coffee using the maca powder available in the market, which is made from maca root and doesn't contain coffee or caffeine. Check the label to be sure.

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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