This Is the Only Store-Bought Coffee That Doesn't Hurt My Stomach—Here's Why

Don't tell my parents, but I've been a covert coffee fiend since, uh, elementary school. Growing up, and still to this day, both my mom and my dad were extremely health conscious. They exclusively shopped for groceries at a local, super granola co-op, and if it weren't for summer camp and after-school playdates, the absolute nirvana of Eggo waffles, SpongeBob-shaped Kraft mac and cheese, Lunchables, Capri Sun, Lucky Charms cereal, and other nostalgic snack staples would have been lost on me.

So, as you can imagine, my parents' brains would have completely imploded had they known that, when left to my own devices one summer, I would bike to a nearby convenience store after dance practice to pick up what I thought of as the lunch of champions: Pop-Tarts and a large Starbucks Frappuccino. Are you cringing? I'm cringing.

monk fruit vs. stevia

Photo:

Stocksy

At the time, I thought the sugar and caffeine rush was amazing with a capital A, and while I eventually kicked the Pop-Tarts habit, it took me years to completely bench sugar-drenched coffee beverages from my diet. I loved picking up Oreo Snowdrifts from Caribou Coffee (IYKYK) in high school, and suspicious CoffeeMate creamers were a mainstay in my college dorm room. 

Eventually, however, I realized imbibing absurdly sugary coffee drinks wasn't doing my health or productivity any favors. The rest of my diet was extremely clean, and the wobbly sugar highs and rock-bottom energy crashes seemed to get nastier as I got older and had more grown-up responsibilities on my plate. If I wanted to get a successful workout in after a long day of work, I couldn't afford to crash two hours prior, and if I wanted to make it through a day of meetings and deadlines, I couldn't deal with the brain fog and lightheadedness that almost always accompanied a less than stellar coffee drink.

So, I began experimenting with some alternatives. I trained myself to like black coffee (quality is key on that front), and I'd only choose store-bought drinks that were made with real, wholesome ingredients that I could recognize and pronounce. Oh, and if I was in the mood for something on the sweeter side, I made sure to find options that used natural alternatives like stevia. But, a crazy thing happened. Even when I started choosing "healthier" store-bought coffees, I still didn't feel that great. Not only did I dislike the taste of stevia, but I also found that it gave me stomach cramps. Plus, I still noticed I was experiencing the signature coffee jitters and soul-slumping crashes by mid-afternoon.

monk fruit vs. stevia

Photo:

Courtesy of Super Coffee

You can imagine my excitement, therefore, when I was introduced to Super Coffee a couple of months ago, and every issue I'd ever experienced with other famous coffee companies vanished into thin air. Founded six years ago by three brothers, Jordan DeCicco, Jake DeCicco, and Jim DeCicco (who are all under 30, by the way!), Super Coffee has already become the number three coffee brand in the United States right behind Starbuck and Dunkin' Donuts. Which, of course, is impressive in its own right, but all the more noteworthy when you take into account just how healthy and unique its formulas are. (The brand's keto-friendly, sugar-free options are basically the antithesis to the aforementioned brands' sugary signatures.)

Another fun fact? According to Super Coffee HQ, the brand has helped remove over 4 million pounds of sugar from the American diet since 2016 with a goal of 5 million for 2021. Impressive, no? If you're a coffee and wellness freak like me and have been on the hunt for a new significantly more health-conscious option, keep scrolling. Below, I'm sharing five reasons Super Coffee is the only store-bought bottled coffee I'll drink these days, and I'll also include more details about its signature blends and ingredients.

1. It Uses Monk Fruit Instead of Sugar, Stevia, or Shady Sweeteners

As I mentioned above, even though stevia is touted as a healthier, more natural alternative when it comes to sweeteners, I'm not actually a fan. According to Claire Virga, a registered dietitian with Rooted Wellness, both stevia and monk fruit are derived from plants and are referred to as non-nutritive sweeteners because they do not provide the body with carbohydrates or calories. Both are significantly sweeter than regular table sugar, stevia being roughly 200 to 300 times sweeter and monk fruit being 150 to 200 times sweeter. 

While both stevia and monk fruit can be smart alternatives for anyone looking to cut back on their overall sugar and calorie intake and manage their blood sugar, Virga notes that monk fruit may have a slight advantage over stevia due to its antioxidant content. "Monk fruit is extracted from the monk fruit, a small, green fruit found in Southeast Asia, and it gets its sweetness from a group of antioxidants called mogrosides," she explains. "Because it contains antioxidants, consuming monk fruit sweetener may help reduce inflammation within the body and therefore reduce the risk for certain chronic diseases." However, since the majority of research on the benefits of monk fruit in humans has been done on animals, Virga says it's hard to definitively say whether or not the sweetener provides true health benefits.

Personally, I find monk fruit to have less of an aftertaste and to be less sickeningly sweet compared to stevia, and it also doesn't seem to bother my stomach in the same way that stevia does. "Stevia is known to cause gas and bloating in certain individuals because of the way it is broken down by bacteria in the colon," Virga confirms. "Additionally, stevia is often mixed with other artificial sweeteners, such as sugar alcohols, which are also known to cause digestive issues." Therefore, if you are going to go with a product that has stevia, Virga recommends looking at the ingredient list closely to be sure you are selecting a stevia product that is not mixed with other ingredients that could exacerbate any stomach irritation. 

So, to come full circle here, the fact that Super Coffee is sweetened up with monk fruit, instead, was super appealing to me. "Monk fruit became the main sweetener for Super Coffee because it is all-natural, great for your health, and it tastes amazing," share the DeCicco brothers. "Some people may find an initial aftertaste compared to regular sugar, but we find that it goes away after a few sips once your taste buds gain familiarity with it as a new sweetener."

2. It Adds Protein + MCT Oil for Crash-Free Energy and Healthy Fat Burning

I'm an early riser and an early exerciser. For me, there's nothing better than knocking out a run or workout practically the second I wake up in the morning. That said, I absolutely always have to have coffee first (it's an addiction, I'm sorry), and I've run into a few issues in the past. Issue A being that straight black coffee kills my appetite and gives me energy at first, but midway through my workout I'm all of a sudden shaky, tired, and a little nauseous from having sucked it down on an empty stomach. And when I've tried to self-correct and eat a small snack or drink something more substantial, it feels too heavy, and I still end up feeling weird and nauseous.

But once again, Super Coffee saves the day. Enhanced with strategic additions like MCT oil and protein (it even has plant-based options), each bottle is low-calorie and provides the balanced energy and lift I was craving without weighing me down. My fave ready-to-drink bottles of Super Coffee have 200 mg of caffeine, which is comparable to having about two cups of coffee. If you're someone who's sensitive to caffeine, I recommend starting with just one-half of a bottle. 

"In all of our beverage and creamer products we use a combination of protein and MCT oil which is a healthy fat that your body burns for fuel," the brothers tell me. "This combination of protein and MCT oil has increasingly positive effects on total health and energy level which supports the caffeine boost from our Colombian coffee."

3. You'll Find Health-Boosting Vitamins and Amino Acids in Certain Products

Additionally, if you're someone who is less about the pre-packaged life and more about the ground coffee or pod life, you're in luck. Super Coffee makes both, and in addition to tasting really, really good, both products are loaded with extra health-improving ingredients. "We use a blend of vitamins and amino acids such as L-theanine in these products to provide more focus, clarity, and immunity support than any other coffee on the market," share the brothers. "When you put it all together, you're getting healthy, enhanced coffee products that taste great, are great for you, and are priced affordably as compared to other mainstream products on the market."

4. They're Constantly Improving the Formula

It's no secret that Super Coffee has become a huge success, and while lots of founders might feel less motivated to keep the magic going and continue to build on and improve products, the DeCicco brothers represent the opposite. Regardless of the fact that Super Coffee did $4 million in 2018 sales and $55 million in 2020 (and is on track to double that in 2021) or that they've secured shelf space at over 30,000 retailers and have an impressive VIP list of investors including Jennifer Lopez, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Schwarzenegger, the DeCicco brothers show no sign of stopping.

"We actually improve our formulas every year and sometimes twice per year. We never believe it's perfect, and we always believe it can get better," says Jordan DeCicco. "With that said, our products are infinitely better today than they were six years ago, and we are confident they will only get better going forward."

5. They're Built on Positive Vibes Only

Photo:

Courtesy of Super Coffee

As someone who has exposure to literally hundreds of beauty and wellness products daily (you should see my inbox) one thing that will always, always, always separate a brand from the pack is how it chooses to use its influence and momentum for the greater good. Whether it's giving back in some way or encouraging a healthy, positive being, it's of paramount importance—at least in my eyes, anyway! The peeps over at Super Coffee seem to agree, and last month, it made an exciting flex when it launched its nationwide Add Something Positive Campaign with the goal of igniting—and perpetuating—a movement of positive energy.

To accomplish this, the brand is asking consumers to spread positive energy through "deliberate acts of positivity" with a TikTok challenge kicked off by fitness influencer Demi Bagby along with other content creators who will produce content on Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. "Super Coffee was born from the idea of removing negative ingredients and replacing them with positive ingredients," says Jim DeCicco in a press release for the campaign. "As we continue to thoughtfully build the Super Coffee brand, it's important to us that we are deliberate with our choices and let our values drive our decisions. This Campaign is a reflection of who we are as a brand; it's our belief that if we see something that can be improved upon, we might as well add something positive."

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