Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Of all the vitamins, minerals, and supplements, collagen peptides are relatively new players. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies—that we've known for a long time—but consuming collagen supplements for their array of health benefits is a younger venture (the bulk of the science only dates back about two decades).* We're continuing to learn about collagen supplementation in real time—which is exciting, of course, but it also means there's a ton of conflicting information to parse.
One hot debate is whether you can add collagen to coffee (or any warm beverage, for that matter). Some declare the high temperature can mess with its benefits; others assert it's totally stable, offering up a menu of decadent, collagen-infused sips. What's the right move here?
Find our investigation ahead, based on the latest research.
Can you put collagen in your coffee?
You may have heard that adding collagen to coffee causes its molecular structure to melt because of the high heat—but this is a total myth, assuming you're using high-quality collagen peptides.
"High-quality collagen peptides in powders are temperature stable," says mbg's director of scientific affairs and in-house nutritionist, Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN. For example, we made sure that the collagen in our beauty & gut collagen+ powder has this kind of sturdiness. "What this means is that the collagen powder is quite versatile in its ability to be incorporated into your favorite cold, tepid, warm, or hot beverage, smoothie, or food."
However, collagen is not completely indestructible: "Really high, prolonged temps can be a denaturation culprit," says Ferira. Specifically, collagen can withstand temperatures up to approximately 200 degrees Celsius (or 392 degrees Fahrenheit). Anything hotter than that for a long period of time can potentially damage the integrity of the protein. But here's the thing: Hot liquids (like your morning coffee) usually hover around 100 degrees Celsius (or 212 degrees Fahrenheit) at boiling point—that's not even close to the limit, so there's no need to worry about breaking down the collagen with your piping cup of coffee.
By the way, Ferira adds, the peptide bonds that keep the amino acids together in collagen peptides eventually get broken down by your body, anyway. "If the molecular structure of collagen does happen to get shaken up a bit (e.g., higher baking temperature or adding it to coffee, which is a slightly acidic pH), that ultimately doesn't matter since you actually have to break down the protein into peptides and amino acids to absorb them in your gut," she says. "In essence, your collagen (whether in your daily coffee or something else entirely) is delivering the building blocks, so the "construction" of this collagen "architecture" can reconvene where it's needed in your body." Be it your skin, gut, eyes, bones, joints, et al.
That's not to say you should go ahead and superheat or beat up your collagen peptides ("Love your collagen; be nice to it," Ferira adds), but the structure is pretty strong—definitely strong enough to withstand a warm beverage.
Benefits of adding collagen to coffee.
Collagen and coffee actually make a wonderful duo: "A robust collagen formula added to coffee is not only a fun pairing but one with unique bioactives to boot," Ferira explains. "You not only get the collagen peptides, collagen-supporting nutrients like vitamins C and E (assuming they are provided in your collagen formula), etc., but also the numerous (thought to be hundreds!) of phytonutrients provided by the coffee plant itself. And if it's not decaffeinated, then the native caffeine bioactive is present for its many nootropic and mind/body energizing and focus benefits. Win win."
Some people also find it easier to stick to a regular collagen routine by incorporating it into their morning coffee—that alone makes it a worthy benefit. And from a pure experiential standpoint, a scoop of collagen makes your coffee oh-so-creamy.
Plus, starting a collagen routine has plenty of benefits for whole-body health. Here are some of the highlights:
- Skin: Hydrolyzed collagen peptides can support better hydration, smoother skin, and improved skin quality.* Specifically, research has shown that collagen can support skin elasticity1 and potentially make fine lines appear smaller.* A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial also found that participants' moisture levels in the skin were seven times higher2 than those who did not take collagen supplements.*
- Hair and nails: Collagen supplements provide many of the amino acids and nutrients needed for hair growth.* “Amino acids are the building blocks for keratin, the material that hair is made of," board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., tells mbg about the benefits. This same mechanism makes collagen supplements superb for nail growth as well: One study found that when patients took collagen daily for 24 weeks, it helped support their nail health3, including better growth rates, reduced breakage, and improved appearance.*
- Gut: According to the journal Gastroenterology, collagen supplements may help support the stomach lining4.* Take it from gut health specialist Vincent Pedre, M.D.: "For the same reasons collagen helps build muscle tissue, it serves as an excellent nutrient source for supporting the rapidly dividing cells that line the interior of the gut." Research has also found that levels of certain types of collagen are lower in individuals with digestive challenges5.*
- Joints: Collagen is a structural component of our joints, helping tissues be more firm, elastic, and withstand stretching.* When it comes to collagen supplements, research backs their ability to improve joint mobility and comfort; specifically, one study showed that when athletes regularly took collagen, their overall joint health was supported6.*
- Muscles: In addition to skin, bone, cartilage, and joints, collagen is also found in our muscles. While collagen is not technically a complete protein, it still delivers eight of the nine essential amino acids that can contribute to muscle mass, especially when paired with exercise and a balanced diet.* A small clinical study7 also found that men who took daily supplemental collagen and followed a strength training program gained more muscle mass than those who followed the program without taking collagen.*
How to make collagen coffee + fun recipes.
You can get as creative—or as low-lift—as you please. Here, you'll find our favorite collagen coffee recipes:
Simple morning coffee.
Adding collagen to your morning coffee routine doesn't have to be a giant undertaking; it's as easy as stirring in a spoonful and sipping away. A high-quality collagen powder will dissolve into any liquid, and if you have an unflavored variety, you might not even detect it in your drink.
Simply add a scoop of your favorite collagen powder (here's our list of picks, if you need inspiration), and stir well. If you'd like even more of a creamy concoction, you can pour the mixture into a blender or use a handheld milk frother for extra smoothness.
Take the same method from recipe No. 1, but swap the unflavored collagen for chocolate. It creates this deliciously rich and creamy blend. Our beauty director, Alexandra Engler, especially loves this simple recipe for a sweet pick-me-up. "To make my morning cup extra special, I always add a dash of milk and one scoop of mbg's beauty & gut chocolate collagen+. The chocolate option is naturally flavored and sweetened with premium organic cocoa powder and organic monk fruit, which makes the coffee "rich, smooth, and decadent without being too saccharine," she says.
On that note, make sure to find a collagen powder that doesn't use any artificial sweeteners—while these are meant to candy-coat the taste, they can often leave behind a saccharine flavor. Check your collagen for natural sweeteners (like organic monk fruit extract, organic coconut sugar) instead of the artificial stuff or sugar alcohols that can be hard on some people's gut.
Chocolate collagen frappe.
Another chocolate option, this healthier take on the traditional frappe is just as rich and decadent. It's also easy to get creative with proportions in the recipe, depending on how strong you like your coffee. Just make sure to brew your coffee in advance so it's fully chilled.
To make this dreamy, frothy frappe, place 1 cup chilled coffee, ¼ cup milk of your choice, ⅓ cup coconut cream, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1½ cups ice cubes, and 1 scoop collagen powder into a blender and mix until smooth.
Cinnamon roll latte.
This cozy, cinnamon aroma will surely lure anyone out of bed. Paired with vanilla extract, it nails that subtly sweet taste without the blood sugar spike, and the frothed collagen mixture makes it extra creamy.
In a medium saucepan add 2 cups milk of your choice, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract over medium heat. Add 1 scoop of collagen to the milk mixture. Once the milk is warmed up and collagen is mixed in, pour the milk/collagen mixture into a glass or bowl and use a frother to create the milk foam (you can also pour the mixture into a blender to froth it). Next, pour some coffee into a mug, then add the milk foam on top of the coffee, sprinkling some extra cinnamon on top if you'd like.
Pumpkin spiced latte.
Here's a great tip to get that pumpkin-spiced flavor without any added sugar: Simply add those flavors (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove) to your coffee grounds before brewing. As you (or a machine) send hot water through the grounds, it will extract the flavor from all those warming spices. We should note: This hack works best with pour-over methods, a French press, and classic coffee pots (you might not want to try it with an espresso machine).
To make your pumpkin-spiced-infused coffee, add a large pinch of spices (again, that's cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove) to the grounds you use for one cup of coffee. Make it as subtle or spicy as you like. Once your coffee brews, stir in 1 scoop of collagen powder, or toss the mixture into a blender for an extra-smooth consistency.
Let's bust the collagen coffee myth: You can totally add collagen to your brew without messing with its structure, especially if you're using high-quality collagen peptides. An important final point, even if you're not planning on adding collagen to warm beverages: "Whether hot or cold or somewhere in between, the quality of collagen peptides is what matters," adds Ferira.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.